The SXSW Interactive 2017 rundown: What Austinites need to know

President Barack Obama speaks in 2016.

President Barack Obama speaks in 2016.

If you are counting down to the start of this year's South by Southwest Conference & Festivals, you're not alone. The multiday, multithemed festival receives international attention for its various panel discussions, film screenings and musical performances.

The interactive portion of the festival begins March 10. Last year, 37,660 visitors from 82 countries participated in SXSW Interactive, which featured more than 3,000 speakers.

One of the highlights of the interactive festival is the Accelerator Pitch event, now in its ninth year. The event, which takes place March 11 and 12 at the Startup Village in the downtown Hilton Austin, features 50 interactive technology companies that pitch their company ideas to a panel of judges in a live setting.


Interactive keynote speakers


Keynote speaker events feature presentations from prominent and emerging leaders in the technology and creative industries. Keynote speakers kick off the day’s programming with an hourlong speech. All of the events will take place in Ballroom D of the Austin Convention Center.

SXSW Catch SXSW Interactive keynote speaker Cory Richards at 2 p.m. March 10.[/caption]

  • Cory Richards, National Geographic adventurer: A climber and visual storyteller, Richards is a National Geographic Fellow whose photographs have appeared in National Geographic Magazine, Outside Magazine, Man of the World and The New York Times. Friday, March 10, 2-3 p.m., Austin Convention Center-Ballroom D.

  • Jennifer Doudna, professor of molecular and cell biology and chemistry: Doudna invented a process that revolutionized gene editing. She was named one of Time Magazine's most influential people in the world in 2015. Saturday, March 11, 2-3 p.m., Austin Convention Center-Ballroom D.


SXSW Adam Grant is a SXSW Interactive 2017  keynote speaker.[/caption]

  • Adam Grant, Wharton School professor and New York Times writer on work and psychology: Grant is the author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Rule the World and Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. He has been named one of Fortune's 40 under 40. Monday, March 13, 2-3 p.m., Austin Convention Center-Ballroom D.


Getting around


Every Austinite's favorite topic—traffic—is expected to be trending during the next two weeks as SXSW comes to town. Here's how to get around during the festival:

  • Capital Metro


City buses are expanding service from March 6—the start of SXSWedu—to March 18, the last day of festival programming. MetroRapid bus hours are extended to 2:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and Sunday service is extended until 12:30 a.m. Late-night service buses will operate until after 3 a.m. at double their normal service capacity most days.

MetroRail service will be extended, beginning service before 10:30 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Check out the full extended service schedule for buses and rail here. 

The app-based shuttle van service first introduced its late-night route, which runs from Rainey Street to West Sixth Street, Jan. 27. During SXSW, use the promo code MOVSXSW to make a reservation for a ride up to 20 minutes before the time you would like to leave, and you'll get a free ride.

  • Car2Go


If it's your first time using the car-sharing company, you can join for free and get a $10 credit when you use the promo code SHAREATX. The company also offers four free parking drop zones at 90 Brazos St., 700 San Jacinto Blvd., 400 E. Fourth St. and 1590 E. Fifth St.

  • Austin B-Cycle


The city-run bicycle-sharing program recently expanded the number of stations around town and extended the no-charge ride time to 60 minutes. This map shows all the stations in Austin.

  • Ride-hailing services


Fasten is the official ride-hailing service of SXSW. First-time users can get $5 off their first ride with the promo code RIDEON. Other ride-hailing companies that operate in Austin include Fare, RideAustin and GetMe.

Mazda Express is offering free rides to anyone with a wristband. Festivalgoers just have to register online and flag down a Mazda Express vehicle.

If you are heading into downtown, check out our list of road closures:

SXSW Road Closures SXSW Road Closures[/caption]