If South by Southwest (SXSW) – the legendary Austin, Texas, festival and conference – has always been on your bucket list, you’re in luck. It’s coming to Sydney from October 15 to 22, 2023.

It’s the first time the festival has ever been held outside of North America and it won’t be the last: Sydney will be the annual host of SXSW’s Asia-Pacific instalment.

The week-long event centres on creativity and innovation, bringing together some of the world’s most visionary thinkers. Past iterations helped launch the careers of Billie Eilish and businesses such as Uber. It’s premiered Academy Award-winning films like Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Save 20% when you buy two or more Broadsheet books. Order now to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.


SXSW’s Sydney iteration will take over the entire city – from Darling Harbour to Chippendale – with music events, a futuristic think tank, world premieres of highly anticipated games, films and television shows, a next-gen technology expo, and panel chats with groundbreaking speakers.

To say the program is stacked is an understatement; there are 700 headline speakers, 300 panel sessions, 400-plus artist performances, and a host of industry networking events and parties. To help narrow it down, we’ve rounded up our top five events and how you can book them.

October 16–21: The SXSW Sydney Conference

What to Expect
Leading thinkers, performers and industry professionals will come together over four days of panels, talks, workshops and mentor sessions at ICC Sydney, Novotel Sydney Darling Harbour, the University of Technology Sydney and the Powerhouse Museum.

Who to See
On the music front, our top pick is Honouring 50 Years of Hip Hop: a chat with rapper, singer-songwriter, producer, multiple Grammy award-winner and humanitarian Chance the Rapper. He’ll be reflecting on hip-hop’s rich history and its profound impact, both on the stage and the streets of Chicago’s South Side. Chance will also be discussing what we can expect the next 50 years to look like for hip-hop and music in general.

Charlie Brooker, creator of dystopian Netflix anthology television series Black Mirror, will be another top keynote speaker to catch. Expect him to cover a wide range of topics, from how he brings the show to life to his perspectives on our future - and more.

On the tech and innovation front, Cal Henderson – the co-founder and chief technology officer of professional messaging platform Slack – will be the speaker to see. He’s an expert on web scalability and a pioneer in internet frameworks. He’ll be chatting about the tech that’s building the future.

Other highlights are Coachella co-founder and CEO Paul Tollett; American futurist, author and annual SXSW speaker Amy Webb, who will be coming to Australia for the first time to share her dystopian predictions; Australian activist Grace Tame; and broadcaster Osher Gunsberg.

How to Book
Only badge holders can attend SXSW Sydney’s Conference. Industry badges start at $1195, while platinum badges ($1695) provide access to all events at SXSW Sydney.

October 18–21: The SXSW Sydney Music Festival

What to Expect
Over four days, more than 300 local and international artists will perform at some of Sydney’s most iconic venues, including the Lansdowne, the Lord Gladstone, the Chippo Hotel and Hotel Hollywood.

Who to See
International headliners include TikTok stars Flyana Boss, Indonesia’s Isyana Sarasvati, Korea’s ADOY, and UK’s Connie Constance. Plus local acts such as emerging R’n’B powerhouse Chanel Loren, Ashli, DICE and Mali Jo$e. And on October 21 you can catch What So Not, Royel Otis, Sycco and 1300 at the University of Sydney for Someday Soon festival, an official SXSW Affiliate event.

How to Book
Early-bird music wristbands for the SXSW Sydney Music Festival are available for $280 and give you access to all music events. The festival is also available to music badge holders and platinum badge holders.

October 18–21: The SXSW Sydney Screen Festival

What to Expect
Red carpet premieres at ICC’s Darling Theatre; an XR showcase; conference sessions; activations; and a screen market for investors, buyers, producers and creatives are all on the bill at SXSW’s Screen Festival.

What to See
In what might be the most fitting feature for SXSW’s Australian debut, the new Wiggles documentary will have its international premiere at the festival. Titled Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles, it uncovers decades of personal archives and a behind-the-scenes look at their sell-out shows.

Other exciting screenings include the Australian premiere of Anita; an American documentary about Rolling Stones muse Anita Pallenberg; and Jamojaya, a fictional tale of an up-and-coming Indonesian musician. Plus films including the Opening Night Gala of Australian triller The Royal Hotel, Emerald Fennell’s Oscar-buzzy new flick Saltburn, Talking Heads' concert film remastered, Stop Making Sense and Japanese film Ryuichi Sakamato | Opus.

How to Book
Early-bird screen wristbands for SXSW are available for $240. They give you unlimited access to red carpet premieres, screenings and the XR showcase. The festival is also available to screen badge holders and platinum badge holders.

October 18–22: The SXSW Sydney Games Festival

What to Expect
Whether you’re someone who makes games or loves playing them, this is one of the most expansive parts of the festival. There will be live playthroughs, product launches, performances, screenings and more.

What to See
The Indie Games Showcase will present 150 independent games from Australia and across the globe. There are sessions for both industry and regular audiences, hosted at Eddy Multi-Space and Mercure Sydney. The showcase will also include takeovers from leading local publishers such as Playside Studios and League of Geeks, while new additions will include Red Candle Games’ Nine Sols and Doronik Games Inc’s Mortal Sin.

How to Book
Early-bird wristbands for the SXSW Sydney Games Festival are available for $165 and give you access to all game events. The festival is also available to game badge holders and platinum badge holders.

See the full line-up, map, badges and wristbands.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with South By Southwest.