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Here are some free SXSW events happening in Austin

People hold up their hands during a concert.
Patricia Lim
South by Southwest begins Friday and runs through March 19.

South by Southwest kicks off Friday, bringing with it a slew of music, film, art, comedy and technology events across the city. The festival runs through March 19.

If you don’t have a badge for the main shows, there are plenty of free official and unofficial SXSW activities to enjoy. Here are a few to check out.

Live music

Community Concerts at Lady Bird Lake

SXSW is hosting free community concerts from March 16 to 18 at Lady Bird Lake, 8000 W. Riverside Dr. Live music will take place from 3 to 7 p.m each day, with doors opening at 2 p.m. Local food trucks and a beer garden will be on site.

The March 16 show is KUTX's Rock the Shores event, a family-friendly concert featuring Thao, Red Yarn & Aaron Nigel Smith, Mega Ran and more. [NOTE: This event has been moved to the Austin Convention Center because of the chance of severe weather. The show will also now start at 6 p.m.] On March 17, Baba Kuboye, AJ Smith and The Zombies will take the stage, and on March 18 HONK!TX, a community street band festival, will take place at the venue.

Vision 8291

An event called Vision 8291, hosted by local nonprofit DAWA (Diversity Awareness and Wellness in Action), will feature a series of performances focused on Austin’s BIPOC community. Concerts will take place at Stubb's Bar-B-Q on March 14, at Highland Lounge on March 16 and at The Speakeasy on March 18. RSVP here.

Learn more about the event here.

Sheraton backYARD 

Free concerts will be taking place atbackYARD, an outdoor venue within the Sheraton Austin Hotel, from March 15 to March 18 beginning at 7 p.m. each night.

KUTX’s hip-hop show The Breaks will host a concert there March 15, and EQ Austin will present a show on March 16. The Austin Music Foundation’s ATX Gen Next showcase is on March 17, and Latin Music Coalition Austin and EQ Austin’s LatinATX 2023 showcase is on March 18.

Dr. Martens music showcase

Dr. Martens is hosting two days of live music on March 16 and 17 at Clive Bar on Rainey Street. The shows run from 1 to 6 p.m. both days. Local tattoo artists will be providing free tattoos. Admission is first come, first served for those 21 and up.

Coca-Cola Move Takeover

Coca-Cola’s new flavor Move will be highlighted alongside a lineup of artists, including Sudan Archives and Isabella Lovestory, at Lustre Pearl on Rainey Street on March 17 from 1 to 7 p.m.


Flatstock 84 

This art exhibition will highlight the work of gig poster artists and feature limited edition, handmade posters. It's at the Austin Convention Center from March 15 to 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Renegade Craft

Renegade Craft’s marketplace will run from March 16 to 18 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Moontower Hall at the Austin Marriott Downtown. The event will feature work from more than 125 artists and creative small businesses.


Austin Industry Day at the Creative Industries Expo

The Creative Industries Expo, a showcase of companies in various industries like tech, design and health and wellness, will open to the public for the first time for Austin Industry Day on March 15 at the Austin Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lush House

This three-day event presented by Lush Cosmetics explores the intersection of activism, cosmetics and technology and how to build an "ethical digital future." Lush House will take place at Idle Hands on Rainey Street from March 10 to 13. It will also be streamed on YouTube.

XR experience events

Free online screenings of "Neo-Wulin: The Era of Black Ark," "Soundwaves: A Metaverse Music Concert" and "VRROOM Alpha Party" are happening from March 11 to 17.

Unofficial events

Many local businesses host events during SXSW that aren't officially affiliated with the festival. Here are some of them:

Bloody Mary Morning

Austin City Limits and Austin PBS will host their annual Bloody Mary Morning party featuring live music, breakfast tacos, bloody marys and other refreshments. It's March 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. RSVP here.

The Austin Chronicle Hair of the 3-Legged Dog Day Party Vol. 8

The Austin Chronicle’s SXSW Day Party takes place March 17 from noon to 4 p.m. at Hotel Vegas. The event — inspired by The Chronicle’s three-legged office dog Hank — features live music by Urban Heat, Being Dead, Rattlesnake Milk and Kydd Jones; free breakfast tacos and cold brew, plus drink specials.

Flores Market

Flores Market at Salina Square is hosting a SXSW event with live music from Mariachi Espuelas, a DJ set by La Morena and a market featuring more than 40 local artists and vendors. Free Austin Eastciders will be available until supply runs out. The event is March 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Midwest X Southwest Artist Showcase

DJs and bands from the Midwest and Southwestwill perform at dadaLab on March 18 starting at 6 p.m.

Crawfish Boil & Austin Indie Label Mixer

Spaceflight Records is joining independent record labels in Austin for a family-friendly crawfish boil and live music show March 18 from 1 to 6 p.m. RSVP here.

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