Just a quickie for those of you planning something big at SXSW (as opposed to turning up and seeing what sort of party everyone else is throwing), but the local City of Austin municipal website, AustinGo, launched its new public beta look at the end of 2011. Need to find information on parking, permits, special events, or anything else? Head to AustinTexas.gov, or read about the changes here.
Archive for the ‘Accomodations & Amenities’ Category
Living here, I love Austin all year round, but I especially love Austin during the time leading up to and during South by Southwest. What I love most is that while the city’s population has grown from around 846,000 in 1990, to approximately 1.7 million twenty years later, it still has a small college town vibe.
This is evident in how it’s full of quirky little eateries and entertainment outlets, and new ones are popping up all the time. Newer additions to the Austin landscape are The Highball, adjacent to and owned by the management of the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, Haddington’s on West 6th Street, and the Barley Swine on South Lamar.
Another recent development is the burgeoning beer scene. Last year at this time there were three microbreweries in Austin; Independence Brewing, Live Oak Brewing and 512 Brewing. Recent additions are Thirsty Planet Brewing, Circle Brewing and Jester King Brewing. There are also some brewpubs in town that brew small batches of their own beer (and serve food). Among the best is Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que on Barton Springs. These are all available in better establishments around Austin, so you should forego the huge volumes of free Miller Lite and Shiner Bock at parties and explore a nice local beer bar.
And come March, all this gets the huge injection that is SXSW, which has been growing up just as Austin has. Even in this, it’s 25th year, there are big changes afoot.
The Interactive conference has blossomed to cover what I’ve heard are 8 “campuses” around downtown, including the Convention Center and nearby Hotels. While nothing has been announced yet, expect some way of getting between the venues. SXSW Film’s regular shuttles continue to get you between the silver screens, and you just need to sneeze to get between the stages on 6th Street during SXSW Music.
As for me I’m really looking forward to my 6th year volunteering at SXSW. Can. Not. Wait.
This year Eric Young is one of the SXSW Crew Chiefs and is one of many volunteers that help the event run successfully. He also blogs at austinbeergeek.blogspot.com.
The Housing Desk team at SXSW have posted up a little warning regarding Hotel Accommodation in Austin during Interactive (and the first half of Film). In short, there’s no room at the Inn, the hotels are sold out (although there is still availability for Music).
If you did have plans to get yourself to SXSW and you haven’t yet made plans, you’re going to have to be (a) inventive (b) bunk up with someone who’s already got a hotel room or (c) forget about sleep and just trust in the power of Sixth Street to keep you going. Whatever choice you make, there’s some more practical advice here.
It’s a simple question, and one that might have a huge impact on the bottom line of US telecoms giant Verizon. Now it has the Apple iPhone available on the network, and it;s likely to be the geek chic of SXSW week, will there be not only enough signal for voice calls, but enough capacity for the volume of handsets and the necessary bandwidth for the significant amount of data that’s going to be poured into their system from around the Austin Convention Center?
MuniWireless is one of many sites to vocalise this potential problem. If the American “V” gets this wrong, there’s going to be an awful lot of blog=inches lambasting the company, irrespective of how it works in the rest of America.
Me, I’ll be relying a lot on good old fashioned pencil and paper to keep me right, and a dash of serendipity to make new friends. But if you must constantly check-in, are you going to rely on an untested Verizon, the existing fun with AT&T, or another solution?
Looking for an unusual way to get to Austin and stretch your brain into the bargain? Then forget the plane ride ad jump on a bus.
Specifically the Startup Bus, put together by Elias Bizannes. This is going to be the second year that teams depart for the Interactive conference, but rather than sleep through the journey, you’ll be challenged to prototype and launch a new startup. As Bizannes pitches it:
You and a team of strangers on a bus, travelling at 60 miles per hour, have 48 hours to conceive, build and launch a startup.
There’s definitely buses leaving from San Francisco, Cleveland and New York, and depending on interest there could be three more from Chicago, LA and Miami. We’ll watch this and see if the community rises to the challenge.
The countdown to this year’s South by Southwest has been running for some time, but with the clock now under showing under two months to go, it’s time for SXSW Baby! to join in the fun of the ticking clock and help you prepare for your Austin experience of 2011.
This week it’s time to make sure of the basics.
Have you got your SXSW Badge?
A simple question, but you’d be surprised how many people leave it to the last minute. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but the cost conscious attendee knows that if you get the tickets earlier, then you’re going to get a discount.
You can choose to go for just one of the conferences, the Gold badge (Film and Interactive) or Platinum (the whole smash of Film, Interactive and Music). The big discounts have already gone, but until Feb 11th there’s still a discount compared to the walk-up rate.
|Up until Feb 11th||Walk-up rate|
Have you sorted out a bed?
One of the best reasons to get your SXSW badge is it gives you access to the SXSW Housing Desk, which pretty much has control of the majority of all the hotel rooms during SXSW Week. If you need a room, the ones still left are going to be here. Centralised booking and payment, it’s all here.
There are a number of Austin hotels, apartments and room lets available outside, but you will need to go a-hunting yourself.
How are getting to Austin?
Tickets and bed sorted, next question is to make sure of your transport, which pretty much means you’re going to be flying in to Austin-Bergstrom International. Pretty much every one of the noted American carriers have flights into the state capital. As with SXSW Badges, the quicker you book, the better price you’re going to get. And with a a lot of people flying in, it’s probably more important to get a seat than a good price.
Have you a nice pair of boots?
Finally, and the biggest question for me. What are you putting on your feet? One of the biggest things people forget about SXSW is just how much walking there is. The Austin Conference Center covers six city blocks alone, throw in the extra venues in the various hotels, and you’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Then the sun sets, the parties start, and you can measure the distance in miles!
Most importantly, are those boots broken in yet? Don’t just buy a new pair the week before unless you want to rip your feet open!
Just in case, I recommend adding the following numbers to your mobile phone’s address book.
The SXSW Headquarters line is (512) 467-7979.
I’d also enter in the phone number to your hotel’s front desk.
Don’t forget to add in entries for airline customer support if you’re flying in:
Alaska Airlines: 1-800-252-7522
American Airlines: 1-800-433-7300
Continental Airlines: 1-800-523-3273
Delta Air Lines: 1-800-221-1212
Frontier Airlines: 1-800-432-1359
JetBlue Airways: 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583)
Southwest Airlines: 1-800-435-9792
United Airlines: 1-800-241-6522
US Airways: 1-800-428-4322
I would also add a few Austin taxi companies into your phone:
Yellow Cab: (512) 452-9999
Austin Cab: (512) 478-2222
Lone Star Cab: (512) 836-4900
In Austin, I’ve had bad luck trying to hail a cab from the street, so calling ahead is always, always recommended.
And in the rare instance that you want to call 411, use Google’s free 411 service, at (800) 466-4411.