SXSW Online 2021: An Online Gathering of Global Rebels

SXSW Online 2021-Virtual Austin Cityscape with bright colors and SXSW logo in the center.
SXSW Online 2021 VR

SXSW Online 2021 — Revive and Thrive

Covid-19 Virtual Festival season continues as live venues, restaurants and performers around the globe come to accept the new worldwide reality. Additionally, festivals that traditionally support these creators are also reinventing themselves. For over 30 years, South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals has connected business and talent across the spectrum. This year SXSW Online 2021 will push virtual boundaries as far as possible.

SXSW Online 2021-Large outdoor stage with crowd of people watching a rap performance. SXSW 2019 Outdoor Stage Sign
Atmosphere – Outdoor Stage – Photo by David Brendan Hall

The festival takes place every March in Austin, Texas. It merges technology, film, art and music, providing unique opportunities for discovery. Some of the most famous ventures hatched at SXSW include livestreaming, YouTube, Twitter and Foursquare. South by Southwest encapsulates a world where the exchange of ideas, art, and technology combine to create excitement and innovation. 

What to Expect

SXSW Online 2021 is a chance to experience the full, exciting slate of speakers and events from the comfort of home. A virtual pass provides you access to engaging interviews, curated streams, and sessions with hundreds of interesting speakers. From music to film to technology, SXSW covers a broad range of topics and interests. Find the full schedule here. The diverse lineup at the SXSW Film Festival ranges from documentary features and episodic premieres to animated shorts and music videos. Every film is eligible for an Audience Award within its Screening Section, providing game-changing opportunities for debut filmmakers to create buzz at SXSW.

Alien on Stage Poster for SXSW
 bus coming down a road at night with a person wearing an Alien costume with a variety of five star reviews
“Alien on Stage The Documentary”

Organized around seven themes, the SXSW Conference features over 230 conference sessions with industry leaders and forward thinkers. It is a gathering of true iconoclasts and rebels with ideas to transform the future. Professionals at all levels can benefit from the networking, mentor sessions, and workshops offered. New this year is the Creative Industries Exhibition, which will serve as the epicenter of business for the festival. An online expo featuring dynamic organizations, from startups to established industry leaders, to share their ideas and products.

SXSW Online 2021 Trouble Makers and Mold breakers

SXSW is the place for artists using emerging technologies in new ways. It is a festival for makers, who create unique experiences outside of traditional channels with new technologies. It is a gathering of true iconoclasts and rebels, the ones stirring things up in their culture and communities.

Four women posing for a picture in front of SXSW yellow background
AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 10: Amy Vilela, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rachel Lears, and Cori Bush attend the “Knock Down The House” Premiere 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Paramount Theatre on March 10, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)

SXSW was the first big festival to take a hit from the global pandemic and was cancelled one week before it was slated to begin. This was devastating to many creatives as well as the small businesses who suffered from a lack of visitors. The positive economic impact of SXSW is substantial for local businesses and should not be discounted. However, the shift to virtual festivals has, in fact, created greater accessibility to events worldwide.

Virtual Reality

Plus, no need to travel when the SXSW Online XR brings Austin to you. XR allows you to experience select venues. The Paramount Theatre and the Red River Cultural District are recreated in fantastical virtual versions. SXSW Online XR will host live sessions, meetups, and other special events. Additionally, a selection of 360° videos from the Virtual Cinema program and the SXSW Film Festival Poster Gallery will be on view. Watch content created specifically for the VR world at SXSW Online XR. The VRChat worlds can be experienced on PC, PCVR and Oculus Quest headsets.

Fantastical virtual versions of iconic Austin locations like Congress Avenue and the Red River Cultural District to a wide array of SXSW Online 2021 programming, we are excited to introduce SXSW Online XR!

SXSW was already the place for artists using emerging technologies, a festival for makers who create unique experiences outside of traditional channels. The virtual format only generates more opportunities for cultural exchange, learning, and the possibility of breakthrough technologies.

SXSW Online 2021 will take place Mar. 16-20. Passes are available for purchase online with group and student discounts available. Live sessions and events are available across five channels on the event platform mobile app and through the Connected TV app for Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku®, Samsung Smart TV, and Android TV.

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  1. I think it will be a valuable opportunity spreading cultural knowledges and insights about other pop cultures mixed with virtual technologies. I think that music is a great medium for getting attention to many people of all genders and ages so I believe it will contribute greatly to understanding other cultures and ultimately narrowing down the barriers between countries.

  2. Austin local, here! I remember in March 2020 when SXSW was cancelled, everyone was devastated. The cancellation of one of the largest festivals in the nation definitely had an impact on Austin, its businesses and all speakers involved. However, I’m excited to experience SXSW virtually this year, and I’m in awe of the dedication and work its taken to make this happen. Hopefully we can enjoy SXSW in person next year, and the years to come!

  3. As an annual conglomeration of parallel film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences, SXSW is expected by everyone. The purpose of SXSW is to create an opportunity for “creative people to develop their careers by bringing together people from around the globe to meet, learn and share ideas.”It is absolutely a great chance for people to gather together,sharing ideas.

  4. I think that changing these events from physical to virtual is not only good because of the pandemic, but also for people who wouldn’t have been able to attend before. Traveling is hard and getting the time to attend these festivals when you have a job or school to attend. The virtual reality aspect of SXSW’s festival is a cool addition, so you can see the different places that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to visit. All infall really interesting article.

  5. This “virtual festive season” is really interesting — not only is it a good way to keep communities connected and engaged in the new digital norm, but as with this case, it’s also a great avenue for discovering different cultures and emerging technology. While some may point to the drawbacks of not having in-person events, I think this digital format may work even better in some ways as it’s more accessible for a larger amount of people and may even be more inviting to people who would otherwise be uninterested.

  6. I recall in 2020 when SXSW was canceled like mentioned it was one of the first major festivals to cancel. Now, here we are a year later preparing for a virtual SXSW that offers a range of new possibilities while working with all of the restrictions in place. It is really interesting that anybody, anywhere in the world could buy a pass, and attend the festive from their homes. It seems like over the last year there have been a lot of new innovations that suggest ‘we are all in this together while we are also all distant, and isolated, this event seems to fit into that category of innovation. Such an interesting display of how technology can create opportunities to unite, endure, and show resilience.

  7. I have heard of virtual events happening but never really looked into them deeper. It is really interesting how large events are able to shift to a virtual setting and bring people together in a safe way. It is also neat that now people from anywhere can attend that maybe could not have if they had to travel to a different location.

  8. This seems like an interesting event before the pandemic hit. Seeing this virtually seems like it will be a success due to how popular it is on its own. The rise virtual events and festivals is interesting because it is something that connects everyone still and allows for easier access for all who want to attend but could not originally. Although, the dynamic of reality and virtual events causes a difficult amount of grief because there is not an ability to go to these events in person. While there is still involvement, there is a lack of excitement and presence. Including the virtual reality will definitely help to alleviate the idea of missing out on the event.

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