South by Southwest Conference & Festivals is here. The two-weekend festival will run from March 8-16, bringing over 300,000 participants, conference panels, live music, film screenings—and loads of traffic—to Austin.

City leaders advised residents and festival-goers to be aware of ongoing road closures, alternative transportation options and safety measures at a March 4 press conference.

"As we welcome visitors and plan for these events that are cornerstones to both our culture and economy, we recognize the added strain on city resources, traffic congestion and potential travel delays that large-scale events can create and the need for heightened vigilance when it comes to safety and security,” Mayor Pro Tem Leslie Pool said at the conference. “I want you to know that Austin is prepared.”

About 130 activity permit applications were filed for this year's events, slightly down from last year's 140, according to Austin's Special Events Task Force.

Road closures to know

To help accommodate the increased number of pedestrians on Austin's streets, the city will enforce several road closures throughout the festival duration, mostly affecting the downtown area.

Drivers should look out for these major closures throughout the duration of the festival:
  • East Sixth Street from Congress Avenue to South I-35 frontage road: March 6 at 4:30 p.m. to March 17 at 3:30 a.m.
  • East Seventh Street from Brazos Street to Red River Street: March 8 at 9 a.m. to March at 17 3 a.m.
  • Red River Street from East 10th Street to East Fifth Street: March 11-17, 4:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. daily
  • West Riverside Drive from Lee Barton Drive to South First Street: March 14-16, noon-8 p.m. daily
Here is an interactive map of all SXSW road closures that includes start and end times.

Transportation options

Austin's Transportation and Public Works Department shared several alternatives to driving on festival days:
  • Walking: Those hoping to navigate the festival on foot can do so with the guidance of this official pedestrian map from SXSW.
  • SXSW shuttle: Festival-goers can hop around official event spots using the SXSW Shuttle.
  • Bike: Austin's bike-sharing program Metrobike includes over 800 bicycles and 80 stations across the city.
  • CapMetro bus and rail: CapMetro representatives said both bus and rail lines will run extended service hours, but passengers should expect delays. Rapid bus routes 801 and 803 will run until 12:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, until midnight on Saturday and until 11:30 p.m. on Sundays. Rail service hours will be extended until 2:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays—March 8, 9, 15 and 16—and until midnight on all other festival days.

Austin Code Supervisor Robert Alvarado said parking downtown will be extremely limited during the festival. A complete map of paid city parking areas can be found here.

Those who opt to leave their car overnight to avoid driving while intoxicated may qualify for the city’s parking ticket waiver program, Get Home Safe.


In previous years during SXSW, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport officials reported record-breaking numbers of 30,000-plus travelers, and this year, they expect no different, according to a release.

ABIA officials recommended those flying from March 7-31 arrive at least two and a half to three hours before their departure time to accommodate security checkpoint congestion.

Staying safe

Despite recent Austin Police Department staffing shortages, Assistant Chief Gizette Gasland said there will be enough additional officers stationed at festival areas downtown.

To combat drunk driving, APD will begin its No Refusal initiative on March 7.

Residents can report unpermitted events and noise complaints to Austin 311.