South By South West

 

South-by-what’d-you-say?

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South By South West.

Also known as SXSW or South-by-so-what (that’s what the locals call it.)

Most of you probably already know that it’s a huge music festival that comes to Austin and turns the city into one of the biggest parties in the world. While most of the locals aren’t impressed anymore, several of them will tell you that there are some really great things about the event. There are a myriad of free shows and events you can get into and it’s likely that you’ll see a host of celebrities while you’re here.

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SXSW is a two-ish week long festival that offers interactive exhibits and panels, a few days of film screening, and so many hours of live music all over the city. Lots of Austin businesses also get involved, like the Odd Duck, a satisfyingly delicious (high-end food but affordable for your wallet) restaurant located on South Lamar who had an all night food party last night to ring in festival season. You can find events like this going for the next two weeks.

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A very special part of this year’s event is the fact that President Obama and the First Lady are involved. As part of the interactive keynote series yesterday, the President was part of a conversation where he called upon the tech industry to help solve some of Washington’s problems, like outdated federal networks and the security debate sparked between Apple and the FBI. First Lady Michelle Obama will be the opening Keynote at SXSW Music on March 16 and will discuss the Let Girls Learn initiative and how it is a call to action to support education for girls around the world who are not in school today. Having the Obama’s involved marks the first time in the history of SXSW that a sitting President and the First Lady have participated.  

President-elect Barack Obama and Michelle Obama wave to the crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2009, during the inaugural opening ceremonies. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform are providing military ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington's 1789 inauguration. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mark O'Donald, U.S. Navy/Released)

You can see from the schedule that there is SO MUCH going on these next few days all over the city, and it really is a great chance to catch some awesome music and, if you attend any of the keynotes, learn a thing or two. Traffic is slightly more manageable if you know your way around Austin, but won’t deter you if you don’t. SXSW is an adventure that you have to experience once, even if it’s only once. Take advantage of some free stuff and enjoy the beautiful sun we’re finally getting!