written by Kate McDermott
There’s the “official” SXSW festival, with huge corporate activations and arena-sized live music performances.
Then there’s the smaller, more intimate SXSW—a mix of official and unofficial shows, parties, and events that don’t get the fanfare of their flashier cousins but are where so much of the magic happens.
Austin is our home, which puts this massive 10-day affair in our backyard. And front yard. It’s all over the place, really. So here’s our insider’s guide to the hidden gems that we think are worth visiting during SXSW.
These are all no-wristband required events (with one notable exception, as you’ll see.)
Grab your festival bundle and let’s go.
(Flatstock 53 Poster Show 2016. Photo from Austin.com)
March 17 - 19, 2022
11:00am - 6:00pm
Austin Convention Center Exhibit Halls 4 and 5
500 E. Cesar Chavez St.
Some official SXSW events get overlooked in favor of flashy corporate activations and celebrity headliners, and that’s a real shame. One such is Flatstock, a celebration of concert posters and the people who design them, hosted by the American Poster Institute.
While it’s on the official roster, Flatstock 77 is free and open to the public without a SXSW wristband. There will also be a stage with live music throughout the exhibition.
Live Music at The Far Out Lounge
The Far Out Lounge
8504 S. Congress Ave.
I’m gonna be completely honest here: a lot of locals hide during SXSW. It’s not that we don’t like visitors or the buzz of the festival. It’s just that we still have to go to work and run our normal errands, and all the bustle can make that a challenge.
So you’ll find us getting our live music fix outside of the city center at venues like The Far Out Lounge. This excellent outdoor venue and bar has live shows every day, and they’ve got an excellent lineup during the festival. On March 13th, enjoy the charm of Eileen Dover and friends at drag brunch. And on March 17th, spend the day at Stoner Jam 2022, a 30-band, 3-stage festival of their own.
Smaller crowds and no corporate overlords? Sounds good.
New Bloom: Music and Art Showcase
March 11 - 13, 2022
5:00pm - 11:00pm
440 E. St. Elmo Rd.
A three-night music and visual art showcase features both local and visiting artists at Blue Norther Hard Seltzer. Tickets include drinks from Blue Norther, Desert Door Sotol, and Pinthouse Brewery—some of the local favorites.
Plus, proceeds support the SIMS Foundation, which provides mental health and substance abuse recovery aid to musicians.
March 12, 2022
2:00pm - 8:00pm
SoCo Modern Gallery
2900 S Congress Ave #100
Give your ears a break and feast your eyes instead. On March 12th, SoCo Modern Gallery will feature emerging Texas artists alongside some big international names (like Banksy, ever heard of him??) at their contemporary art space.
What to expect: mimosas, live music, and an “all-are-welcome” vibe.
What you’ll miss: Turtleneck-clad art snobs peering down their noses at you and saying things like, “Maybe you just don’t understand it.”
SXSW Déjà Vu
March 12, 2022
4:00pm - 8:00pm
Austin Daiquiri Factory
2000 E. 12th St.
This party has everything: frozen fruity daiquiris, fire dancers, local artists and vendors selling their goods, tarot cards, Sam’s BBQ…PLUS, budtenders from Rico Creations CBD to answer questions and distribute their goods.
It’s all happening at Austin Daiquiri Factory, which yes, is as awesome as it sounds with 16 different kinds of daiquiris and a gazillion customization options.
Free, pet-friendly, and family-friendly.
The Austin Chronicle’s Hair of the 3-Legged Dog Day Party
March 18, 2022
1:00pm - 5:00pm
1502 East 6th Street
The Austin Chronicle is an independent local weekly news release that has been keeping it weird since before “Keep Austin weird” was even a thing. Local news and politics, music and art, food and culture—the Chronicle has been telling Austinites what’s what for 50 years. So when they do stuff, we tend to pay attention.
On March 18th, they’re throwing their annual day party full of local bands, free drinks, and live music. Get CBD from excellent local company Hometown Hero, tacos from El Dorado cafe, and schmancy bath products from Luxe Refill.
All-in-all, this sounds like the kind of laid-back party that Austin lives for.
Sans Bar Austin Experience
March 19, 2022
12:00pm - 6:00pm
1818 East 12th St.
For some, SXSW is a booze-filled rager. But if you’re not the drinking type—or just need a break, for Pete’s sake—this zero-proof celebration of the mocktail will be a welcome change.
Mark the end of the SXSW festivities with live music, unlimited non-alcoholic drinks, and connection with other sobernauts. Sans Bar is an alcohol-free bar that invites people to mix and mingle without the booze.
Honorable Mention: Cannabis Industry Evolution
March 14 - 15, 2022
10:00am - 5:00pm
Hilton Austin Downtown
500 E. 4th St.
This is an official SXSW event, which means you need a wristband/badge to attend. But when there’s a two-day cannabis convention in town, we can’t in good conscience not mention it.
Summits spread across the two days will cover topics like national legalization, industry growth, and sustainability. If you have a wristband, it should be a wildly informative couple of days.
SXSW 2022 runs from Friday, March 11th through Sunday, March 20th.