The inaugural SXSW Sydney kicks off this weekend, expanding the famed Austin, Texas-based South by Southwest festival outside North America for the first time in its history.

From 15-22 October 2023, SXSW Sydney will see the Asia-Pacific’s pre-eminent creatives come together in the heart of the Harbour City.

Emulating the eclectic collection of tech, innovation and creativity that has made the Austin event unmissable, SXSW Sydney will feature a stacked week-long program that brings together the best of the best across tech, music, screen, gaming and culture.

Destination NSW is a proud strategic partner of SXSW Sydney. which is estimated to attract more than 27,000 visitors in its first year alone, who will inject over $24 million into the NSW visitor economy.

That economic impact will grow each year as SXSW Sydney cements itself as an unrivalled annual event for the Asia Pacific region.

The original SXSW launched in Austin in 1987 as the South by Southwest Music and Media convention and attracted 700 attendees. It has grown to become one of the largest tech, film, music and gaming festivals in the world.

In 2022, SXSW’s impact on the Austin economy in 2022 was $US280.7 million. In 2023, the SXSW Conference & Festivals and SXSW EDU Conference and Festivals drew approximately 345,066 participants, with 52,638 hotel room nights booked by attendees.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said: “Starting as a music festival, then expanding to include film and evolving further to cover interactive technology, as well as education and gaming, SXSW has become the world’s fair of the future. The economic impact of SXSW is on par with hosting the Super Bowl every year and all participants benefit year-round.”

SXSW Sydney will mark the first time SXSW has been hosted outside North America.

SXSW Sydney Managing Director Colin Daniels has attended 19 SXSW festivals. He told the Destination NSW Visitor Economy Forum that he had watched the annual event transform Austin into an epicentre of creativity and the latest American tech hub.

“I’ve seen Austin change, and I’ve seen what this event can do for businesses,” he said.

“Our aim is to connect all of Asia Pacific’s tech, gaming, music, film, and creative industries with the rest of the world. The message we want to get across to the rest of the world is that if you want to do business in the Asia Pacific region, you need to be at SXSW Sydney.”

NSW and the visitor economy in focus at SXSW Sydney

Discover the "new" in NSW during SXSW Sydney at NSW House and the NSW Hub.

The activations, presented by Destination NSW in partnership with the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade, will showcase to attendees the unique experiences that NSW has to offer.

NSW House will provide an opportunity to listen to thought-provoking speakers, forge new connections and taste the diverse flavours of NSW while enjoying city views and local drinks daily. Learn more here.

Meet experts at NSW Hub for one-on-one, informative discussions about studying, working, investing and living in NSW. ​

NSW House will be located at Collider, 477 Pitt Street, in the heart of Sydney's Tech Central, from 17-19 October 2023. NSW Hub will be located at the Tech and Innovation Expo at ICC Sydney from 18- 21 October. You can enter the expo with a SXSW badge or buy a day pass to enter the tech and innovation hub. Learn more here.

A number of panel events will be held during SXSW with the visitor economy and tourism as their focus.

Destination NSW will host a panel discussion on 'The Sydney Story: How creative vision is reshaping a global city '​ during the SXSW Sydney Conference. Panellists will include Justin Hemmes (Merivale)​, Beau Nielsen (Phoenix)​, Stephen Page AO (Bangarra Dance Theatre)​ and L-FRESH the Lion (Hip Hop artist and Western Sydney advocate)​.

Join us at Collider on October 19 from 4-5pm for our panel session. Learn more here.

Accor Pacific, the Official Accommodation Partner of SXSW Sydney, will host a speaker panel on 'The Future of Travel' on 18 October 2023 at the ICC Sydney.

Moderated by Accor Pacific CEO Sarah Derry, the panel will include Elissa Keenan (CEO of Ecotourism Australia), Juliet Ashworth (creative director of CHADA), Quentin Long (managing director of Australian Traveller Media), and Nick Kavanagh (chief strategy officer of iProspect).

The panel will focus on exploring the possibilities and advancements in the future of travel. With knowledgeable and visionary speakers, experts from the fields of design, sustainability and media, attendees can expect to gain insights into innovative technologies, trends and experiences that will shape the hotel and travel industry.

Other travel-focused sessions include ‘Why We Need Travel More Than Travel Needs Us’ on October 19 at ICC Sydney, a live recording of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast with host Amanda Kendle, an experienced travel journalist, a sustainability expert charged with ensuring tours are not harming the planet and a well-travelled podcast listener discussing what she has learned about thoughtful travel over years of episodes.

Learn more here

Extended trading hours for SXSW Sydney

The NSW Government has extended trading hours for venues that support major upcoming sporting and cultural events during October, including SXSW Sydney.

A series of special event extended trading nights kicked off on the long weekend and will continue through until the Rugby World Cup final on 29 October.

The extended trading hours for SXSW Sydney will run from 10pm to midnight on the opening day this Sunday 15 October for venues in Sydney and The Rocks in the City of Sydney LGA, plus 10pm to midnight on 22 October for hotel or club premises in Sydney and The Rocks (City of Sydney LGA).

Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy John Graham said: “I’m very pleased that people attending South by Southwest will have the chance to see Sydney at its best after dark, with more venues able to open later as people walk between shows and venues soaking up the music, the ideas and the culture of an event being held for the first time outside its home city of Texas.”

Learn more here