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The Freeloader's Guide To SXSW

With the coolest music, tech and film components, SXSW is THE event of the year to attend. But is the $2000 conference badge too pricey for you? No worries! We've gathered up our favorite ways in which you can enjoy the Austin shindig for little or no money. For the full list of activities (both free and not-so-free), check out the SXSW website.

  • Get Yourself On All The Right Guest Lists

    Get Yourself On All The Right Guest Lists

    Keeping track of all the different concerts, food tents and films happening during SXSW can be pretty stressful if you have to do it alone. But if you're willing to cough up less than $50, you can avoid the dirty work by registering on RSVPster. They'll make sure you're on every guest list possible -- even those you don't know about! -- so you won't waste any research time. But we recommend using an old email address or making a new one, because they continue sending emails after SXSW is over. 

  • Eat And Drink On The Company's Dime

    Eat And Drink On The Company's Dime

    Corporate sponsors are eager to plaster their name all over an event where trendy music groups and innovative tech apps get their start. Luckily, that means that they're also willing to provide you with free food and drinks. That's right, fill your belly for FREEl! Just look for the party tents sponsored by companies like Taco Bell, McDonalds and Red Bull. 

  • Crawl Sixth Street

    Crawl Sixth Street

    Yeah, we know all about the big-name "official" concerts. But there are a TON of bands that play official and unofficial shows at all kinds of venues during SXSW, especially along Sixth Street. They're often free or really cheap, but your biggest concern will be waiting in line for the show; just show up early and stay late. Keep your eyes peeled for other entertainment beyond music, too -- tech companies, celebs and major brands often have their parties around Sixth, too. 

  • Game With The Geeks

    Game With The Geeks

    Ok, what's there for the gamer? Lucky you: on March 17, you can play some of the hottest upcoming games and titles of the year while meeting some of your favorite celebrities at the SXSW Gaming Geek Stage. You can also compete with professional gamers in a Super Smash Bros. tournament and play free arcade games. Jackpot!

  • A Website To Watch

    A Website To Watch

    The creators of DO512.COM are basically experts on how to RSVP, which concerts you should see, and how to schedule your SXSW experience so you don't miss a thing. They also tend to be the first to know when a new party is available or where an up-and-coming musician might be hosting a free show. This website is a must!

    See also: These Are The Characters You'll Always Meet At SXSW (Which One Are You?)

  • Screen Films Outside

    Screen Films Outside

    Yeah, you'll need a badge for some of the bigger film events, but plenty of cool stuff still is available outside for free! One don't-miss event: watch a screening of "Smokey and the Bandit" with an intro from Mr. Burt Reynolds himself on March 13 at the Long Center Terrace. Make sure to RSVP online, as you'll need a SXSW guest pass for this one. 

  • Keep An Eye On Twitter

    Keep An Eye On Twitter

    Certain Twitter hashtags -- like #sxsw, #sxswi and #sxsw2016 -- can give you real-time information on where the party is, but if you want the whole scoop on where the best free events are being held, you should check out the Twitter handles @sxsw (the official one!), @WhoaCo@CameronAtSX and @SXSWMF. They're on top of their game and a bit more trustworthy than the drunk guy at the corner of Sixth Street.

  • Enter The Cosplay Competition

    Enter The Cosplay Competition

    If your nerdy creativity takes the form of cosplay, you're in luck! On March 17, cosplay enthusiasts can get dressed up for SXSW's 4th Annual Cosplay Competition. The free event will happen at the Austin Convention Center in Ballroom C. Even if you're not competing, you're sure to run into some colorful people there!

    See also: 18 Epically Bad Cosplay Fails From Star Wars Fans

  • Jog With Friends

    Jog With Friends

    Tired of gladhanding? Meet investors and clients a different way! You can join a SXSW running group at 409 5th Street and network with the jocks of the tech world. But beware: the run is 7 a.m.-9 a.m. so consider how much you plan to party the night before. The event description says, "We believe a run can flat out change a day, a life, the world. Join us for our morning idea runs. We believe you will find your best idea of the day and leave inspired." That must be some run!

  • Score An Invite To The Fader Fort

    Score An Invite To The Fader Fort

    Known to be one of the biggest free parties at SXSW in years past, the Fader Fort is definitely an event you'll want to check out. This year it's sponsored by Converse and has performances by Metro Boomin, Sheer Mag and many others lined up. For RSVP info, check out their website here

  • Set Your Inner Nerd Free!

    Set Your Inner Nerd Free!

    If you're more excited about the tech conference than the music, you'll have no problem finding free stuff! Between the Austin Convention Center and The Palmer Events Center, you can connect with fellow entrepreneurs, thought leaders and coders while learning about drones, biohacking and 3D printing. These events are completely free to the public and you don't even need to RSVP for them! Learn more here

    See also: These Celebrities Invented Stuff That's Actually Useful (You'll Be Surprised!)

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