Austin Recap: How to Enjoy SXSW Without a Badge or Wristband

Hey y’all!

SXSW Sans the Wristband


There are many ways to enjoy SXSW without the official wristband or badge. These coveted items can be expensive if you haven’t planned or budgeted for them. I’ve included a few tips below on how I enjoyed the festival without a badge.

Sign Up for A SXSW Guest Pass

You can get one of these free passes by signing up through the official SXSW website. They will even send out an email of daily events you can attend with it. Whether you’re interested in gaming, film, music and more, there will be plenty of free events for you to choose from.

Follow Unofficial SXSW Accounts on Social Media

I’ve found that following Unofficial SXSW accounts on Twitter has been a huge help. They’ll give you the details on events to look out for coming up and events happening in real time. Often times they also host giveaways too. Winning! A few of my favorites are:

  • Unofficial SXSW

  • RSVPster | Unofficial SXSW

*note that each of these has the appropriate year included in their handle  

Keep Up with Local News Outlets For Information 

Many of the online local news outlets will have lists of events to attend. This hasn’t been my main source of information in the past, but it has been beneficial. 

Search Through Eventbrite

Oh my gosh, you would be surprised by how many events are listed on here and many of them are FREE to RSVP. The few that aren’t free may have a very small fee. I’ve found this to be super convenient: download the app, browse, register for events you like. Bam you’re done!  

Since many events occur at the same time, I suggest registering for what you like (this way you are at least on the list) and exploring what you have time for. It also helps to map things out depending on how many events you would like to attend and where they are located.

Check your favorite brand’s social pages

Many brands love to come and host events or have pop ups during SXSW. I have seen Highbrew Coffee, Bumble, Twix, Shea Moisture and many more during the festival. Be sure to check their social pages for updates and if registration is required depending on their location / the event itself.

Take a stroll down rainey street

Rainey Street does not disappoint during SXSW. Many artists come and perform at the bars. *Pro tip be sure to arrive extra early to see your fave artist, the lines can get ridiculous. Be sure to check out the events hosted by Collide and visit the annual Showtime house. Woot woot for freebies!

SXSW Recap

I love visiting Austin for the popular music, film and media festival, SXSW. Although I was only able to enjoy it for one day this previous year, I still had an absolute blast exploring with one of my closest friends. I’ve included details on our adventure below and I’ve shared a few additional tips on how you can *insert drum roll* enjoy this festival without a badge or wristband. 

A Day of Adventure  

We started our day bright and early with breakfast tacos at TacoDeli. What better way to start your day off right? I enjoyed the Cowboy beef taco, yum.


 Free Events at the Convention Center


Many of the official events were hosted at the Austin Convention Center and there were a few that you could explore without a badge or wristband (SXSW guest pass needed) including: Flatstock and the Marketplace.  


 You could find all different types of posters, art, jewelry, beauty products and more in this area. There were also plenty of giveaways and we snagged an awesome canvas tote.


SheaMoisture Luxury Lounge

Visiting the SheaMoisture Lounge was one of my favorite parts of the day! This event was hosted at the Hilton inside of the Reverbery. During our visit we enjoyed a panel discussion and were surprised by what happened afterward.


They brought out a bomb DJ, rolled out a whole charcuterie table and started pouring drinks. You could also get complimentary products and mix and mingle with the panelists. There was even a fun ball bit that you could take photos in. It was so much fun! They also hosted other events earlier in the week. 

*rsvp was required and it was free!  

Day Parties on Rainey Street

*you can find this popular mural at the Bungalow Bar in their outside yard near the restrooms

*you can find this popular mural at the Bungalow Bar in their outside yard near the restrooms

After exploring the Convention Center and enjoying the SheaMoisture Lounge, we decided to take a trip to Rainey Street. There were many unofficial / official SXSW events happening in the area, artists performing and even the popular Culture Collide event. This event hosts popular tv show themed pop ups, food, artists and more. We weren’t able to explore much of it this year, but last year we visited the Twin Peaks Showtime event and TWIX House. We even attended a puppy themed party and saw a few artists perform in the area.


But since we were a bit short on time this year, instead we bar hopped and ate at the yummy food trucks in the area. Still a win for us! If you have more time or don’t mind waiting in long lines, I highly recommend checking out a few of the events in this area.

Nighttime Adventures

There are many events and shows going on around the city during SXSW. Depending on what you want to get in to, you will be sure to find something to enjoy. This go around, we decided to explore West 6th. I’m no Austinite, but this area was a much calmer version of 6th street than what I have seen. We didn’t get a chance to enjoy any evening shows, but we still had a fun night on the town.

*Isn’t this  Simple Booth  photo so cute?!

*Isn’t this Simple Booth photo so cute?!


SXSW is one of the most fun adventures that I have ever been on. I hope you ladies and gents take a trip to Austin to enjoy it one day! Keep these tips in mind when you do.

XO Lana

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Milana Davis