[plug: TOWERS Realty has helped dozens of companies secure a downtown venue during SXSW.]
It’s coming up to the time of year again when tech, film and music fans descend on Austin for SXSW.
With every year, SXSW seems to grow bigger and more unpredictable, but bits of information are starting to trickle in about what will be happening and where.
Here’s a quick rundown of what we know is in the works so far:
- This year, Sixth Street blocks, from Brazos to I-35, will be closed to traffic for more than a week, from March 8 to March 17.
- Filter Magazine has Bar 96 and Lustre Pearl for Interactive, and the Rainey Street district will be subject to police emergency closure from March 8 to March 17. (It’s rumored that Google Village will return somewhere)
- East Fifth street, on the east side of I-35, will be closed from March 13 to March 17.
- Pandora is setting up shop in Antones (former) space at Lavaca and Fifth again. In 2012, Pandora founder Tim Westergren kicked off a “Pandora Discovery Den” there.
- VICE is back again, setting up for mayhem off the beaten path on the west side of 3rd and I-35, where a current Crossfit gym is.
- Spotify is hosting an event at Cenote Coffee, which is on the east side of I-35 on Cesar Chavez.
- The Carmelo’s parking lot, at Red River and Fifth, is being converted into a mega music stage for title sponsor Doritos.
- Skype is planning something in the lot at 7th @ Trinity Street.
- Red Bull has the parking lot fronting I-35 @ 6th Street
The Statesman also just posted a preview of what to expect from the Interactive fest, which it notes was “once a modest offshoot in the ’90s focused on multimedia” and as we all know, later gave birth to Twitter.
Twitter was buzzing with complaints from attendees last year about the clogged roads, resulting in people missing many of the panels and events they came to town for. It’s said that’s what led to the decision to divert some of that programming to Las Vegas, this August. We’ll see how it impacts this year’s events.
Traffic aside, it’s inevitable that this year’s SXSW will continue to beg the question about how much capacity there is in downtown Austin for increasingly large events, particularly amid the non-stop construction. The City recently released data that said special events, such as SXSW and the Formula One Fan Fest, grew from 108 in FY10/11 to 136 FY11/12, up 26%.
Admittedly, it is a “good” problem to have and certainly one of the perks of living in Austin, as well as a huge financial contributor on almost every level of the social ladder.
For us downtowners, this is a blessing and a curse as it impedes many of our habits and routines. But it is certainly undeniable that there is an electric charge in the air when SXSW starts rolling into town every year. It’s a combination of the perfect weather season in Austin, followed by an abundance of creative energy that reminds us why we chose to make Austin our home to begin with.
To me, that’s worth celebrating.
Fred Schmidt says
Great rundown, Jude! Thanks for kicking off the coverage. Obviously many more such announcements to follow over the next few weeks in the countdown. As you say, these are all wonderful “problems” to have and to work through — just ask anyone from a “dying” city for that perspective (like my youth city of Detroit). SXSW is one of the best marketing events to showcase our fine town. And the economic impact of what those visitors leave behind during that week is nothing short of staggering: $113M in 2010, $167M in 2011 and a whopping $190M in 2012!