In Town for SXSW? Here’s What to See and Do While You’re in Austin

Ready for 10 days of film, music, comedy and technology? SXSW returns to Austin on Friday and, as usual, the city and festival have plenty in store. From immersive pop-ups to branded houses, here’s a look at what’s happening around the city.

Where to Eat and Stay

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Dutch hotel chain CitizenM, which offers competitive room rates by keeping room space intimate, is opening in downtown Austin in time for the festival’s first weekend. The hotel will host a “bucking bed” experience — a nod to the property’s new Texas home, and Rodeo Austin taking place nearby — as well as an “unplug zone” for festival goers throughout the week.

Stop by the recently opened Wolf and Wheat on East 6th, a pastry shop led by Michelin-starred chef Margarita Kallas-Lee. Sweets on the menu include buckwheat brownies, potted cakes, and specialty ice cream flavors. The shop, typically open three days a week, is operating with expanded festival hours from March 12 through March 16.

Another addition to Austin’s culinary scene is Bureau de Poste, from former “Top Chef” contestant Jo Chan. Located inside Hyde Park specialty grocery store Tiny Grocer, the restaurant offers classic French bistro fare like cassoulet, escargot and steak frites.

Fine-casual restaurant and wine bar Birdie’s opened in East Austin in 2021, and in 2023 was named Food & Wine’s restaurant of the year. The menu changes daily, but is focused on American dishes with French and Italian influences. There are no reservations, so anticipate a wait.

Citizen M Austin Downtown
Citizen M Austin Downtown
Wolf and Wheat
Wolf and Wheat
Bureau de Poste
Bureau de Poste

Festival Pop-ups and Experiences

French fashion brand Sézane first Austin pop-up, which opened in March 2020, was cut short. Four years later, Sézane is finally reopening its doors in Austin on Friday, just in time for the SXSW crowd. Stop by opening weekend for “surprises” including bouquets from local farms, embroidery, and — naturally — some live music.

Team Milk and The Cut are kicking off the festival with a 5K run to commemorate International Women’s Day on Friday. The all-levels run will be led by local running groups and influencer Abi Ayres, who has partnered with Vox for the docuseries “Running Sucks,” which chronicles her training for the New York Marathon.

The Audible carnival is touching down in Austin for the festival’s first weekend. Starting Friday, the “Audible Sound Experience,” located at 20 Congress Avenue, will feature carnival-inspired activations that celebrate audio storytelling, including a Ferris wheel, games, and concessions like cotton candy and corn dogs.

Also on the Amazon front, Prime Video is bringing “Fallout” fans closer to a post-apocalyptic world with a one-day experiential activation. The popular video game franchise has been adapted into a series starring Ella Purnell, Aaron Moten and Kyle MacLachlan, and on Friday the streamer is inviting guests into the show’s fictional shantytown. There’s a “Nuka Cola” bartering system, among other enticing activities in store.

Snapchat is popping up in Austin with its wellness-centric Snap Sanctuary. The three-day event, taking place at The Pershing, will offer yoga classes in collaboration with Austin-based apparel brand Outdoor Voices, along with panels, cocktail hours, and a performance by singer Aluna on Saturday.

Magpies & Peacocks, a nonprofit design house focused on post-consumer upcycling, has partnered with Maison Perrier. The brands will unveil a collaborative design at the French Legation, which will host an immersive Maison Perrier takeover on Friday and Saturday.

Paramount+ is bringing several of its titles to life with The Lodge at Clive Bar on Rainey Street. The streaming platform’s immersive pop-up will feature installations centered around “Halo,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Mean Girls,” and more. There will be themed cocktails on offer, along with the signature drink of the Masters golf tournament, at the Lodge’s pub and speakeasy.

Reddit is taking the conversation off forum with a two-day residency at Two Hands, which will feature snacks, drinks, and music from DJ Chorizo Funk. On Saturday, Reddit is hosting a panel discussion and celebration for a to-be-revealed launch, which promises to “transform the way businesses engage and interact.”

Still taking notes? Sharpie x Paper Mate is setting up shop at Icenhauer’s on Rainey Street from Friday through Sunday. Events include a Q&A with Mindy Kaling about her creative process on Saturday and a “doodle analysis” session.

Sezane in Austin, TX.
Sézane in Austin.
Paramount+ The Lodge at SXSW
Paramount+ The Lodge at SXSW

And Of Course… The Films

The SXSW film festival kicks off on Friday with the premiere of “Road House,” which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a UFC fighter. Many eyes will also be on the closing night film on March 16, “The Idea of You,” a romcom inspired by a Harry Styles fan-fic that stars Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine.

This year’s film slate also features several actors making their directorial debuts. In collaboration with Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, Dev Patel directs and stars in revenge thriller “Monkey Man.” The film, which premieres during the festival on Monday, will open theatrically in April.

In the rom-com category, internet personality Rudy Manusco directed and stars in the semi-autobiographical “Música,” which costars Camila Mendes. The film will be released by Amazon in early April.

Cazzie David, daughter of Larry David, cowrote and directed “I Love You Forever” with college friend Elisa Kalani. Cazzie also takes a supporting role in the film, which stars Sofia Black-D’Elia.

And finally, former “SNL” star Kyle Mooney taps into late ’90s nostalgia with “Y2K,” a coming-of-age comedy set on New Year’s Eve 1999. The film, produced by Jonah Hill’s Strong Baby productions, is led by Rachel Zegler and “It” star Jaeden Martell.

Rudy Mancuso directed and stars in "Música."
Rudy Mancuso directed and stars in “Música.”
"Y2K," directed by Kyle Mooney.
“Y2K,” directed by Kyle Mooney.

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