SXSW 2020: The Best Free Shows, Food and More

A curated roundup of the awesome happenings still happening

By Holly Cowart
Unofficial SXSW 2020
Photo by Aaron Rogosin

To me, South By Southwest season is akin to a holiday. The city becomes a playground (sometimes literally), bursting with interactive events spanning all genres from music to tech, food to film. While some require more official credentials, there are still plenty of unofficial, budget-friendly pop-ups making sure there’s enough good times to go around.

Despite concerns over the spread of COVID-19, the disease spread by Coronavirus, and a slew of cancellations by some very big names, organizers say the SXSW party will go on. So, we’ve waded through the countless free and affordable events to find the best music, food, shopping, networking and more still happening. Maybe traffic will be lighter and lines shorter this year. Schedule accordingly and get your RSVPs before they’re gone! Happy holidays, Austin.

UPDATE: Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced Friday afternoon that SXSW Conference and Festivals, set to begin March 13, are canceled due to the threat of Coronavirus spread. As of now, these are the unofficial events that have yet to announce a cancellation.


Otoboke Beaver photo by Hutton Supancic

KUTX Live at the Fairmont 

When: March 13
Where: Fairmont Hotel
Why: David Ramirez, Star Parks, Flora & Fauna & more

Galactic Interactive 

When: March 13
Where: Hotel Vegas
Why: Capyac, PNTHN & more

Music Tech Mashup 

When: March 13 – 16
Where: Empire Garage 
Why: Questlove, Paul Oakenfold, White Denim, Special guests & more

Soundcheck Saturday 

When: March 14
Where: Hotel Vegas
Why: White Denim, Calliope Musicals, Vintage marketplace & more 

New Nashville Live

When: March 18
Where: Capital Cruises
Why: The Wandering Hearts, Savannah Sgro, The Accidentals & more

Volcom x Levitation Launch Party

When: March 18
Where: Volcom Garden
Why: Ringo Deathstarr, Holy Wave, Elephant Stone & more

StubHub Trending

When: March 18 & 19
Where: Banger’s 
Why: JP Saxe, Night Moves, Overcoats, Devon Gilfillian, Tomar & the FC’s & more

Live Morning Broadcast

When: March 18 – 21
Where: Hotel Van Zandt
Why: Noah Cyrus, Margo Price, Houndmouth, Milky Chance, Bob Schneider & more
$5 donation

YETI SXSW Music Fest

When: March 18 – 21
Where: YETI Flagship
Why: The Black Lips, Sir Woman, Delta Spirit, White Denim, Mobley & More

South by San José

When: March 18 – 21
Where: Hotel San José & Jo’s parking lot
Why: The Texas Gentlemen, Golden Dawn Arkestra, Caroline Rose, Marketplace & more
Free & open

Lucy’s Fried Chicken Revival

When: March 18 – 22
Where: Lucy’s Fried Chicken 
Why: Ray Wylie Hubbard, Shinyribs, Tomar & the FC’s, Ian Moore & more
Free & open

Grungecake 2020

When: March 19
Where: Parish
Why: Sebu (Capital Cities), Neon Dreams & more

Skylab 2020

When: March 19
Where: Scholz Garten
Why: Val Kilmer, The Black Angels, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead & more

Still A Free Country

When: March 19 & 20
Where: Lustre Pearl
Why: Nikki Lane, Low Cut Connie, Sports Team, Live painting & more

Brooklyn Bowl Family Reunion

When: March 19 – 21
Where: Historic Scoot Inn
Why: M. Ward, Delta Spirit, Margaret Glaspy, Sudan Archives, Jackie Venson & more

Thrasher Death Match

When: March 19 – 21
Where: Better Half
Why: Live bands, mini-ramp, bee & more TBA
Free & open

Austin Monthly Bands To Watch Party

When: March 20
Where: Scholz Garten
Why: Live music, Drinks & more

Radio Milk Day Parties

When: March 20 – 21
Where: Radio Milk
Why: White Denim, Surfer Blood, Ranch Rider & more

The TX Cantina

When: March 21
Where: Licha’s Cantina
Why: Robert Ellis, live music, breakfast tacos & more

The Big One

When: March 21
Where: Barracuda
Why: Duncan Fellows, Banoffee, Naked Giants & more

Cinderblock Block Party

When: March 21
Where: Private estate
Why: Live music, Complimentary drinks, DJ sets & more



Photo by Andrew Reiner

Open Haüs 002

When: March 13
Where: SHDW Studios
Why: DJ sets, Drinks & SHDW Studios

Send Noods With Visva

When: Postponed
Where: Mercury Mambo
Why: Noodles, Treats, Airpod giveaway, Graffiti tag workshop & more

Laissez Fair Vintage Market: South by Edition

When: March 14 & 15
Where: Passport Vintage
Why: 10+ vintage vendors, Complimentary drinks & more

Bat City Artisans Market

When: March 15
Where: Kinda Tropical
Why: Vendors, Artwork, Palm reading, Screen printing, DJs & more
Free & open


When: March 15 & 16
Where: Cheer Up Charlies
Why: Pop-up market, Short films, Femme and queer artists & more

SHAMELESS St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

When: March 17
Where: Clive Bar
Why: Alibi Room, Free swag, Giveaways, DJ sets & more

PMA Global Street Farm

When: March 17 & 18 
Where: The Drafting Room
Why: Global street festival, Floral hair design, live music, light bites & more

Hair of the 3-Legged Dog Day Party

When: March 20
Where: Hotel Vegas
Why: Bloody Marys, Tacodeli, Wild Organics CBD store, Live music & more

Texas Roots Festival

When: March 21
Where: Desert Door
Why: Foraging demos, a market, live music, live cooking & more
Free & open

Cultivate Me! CBD Brunch

When: March 21
Where: Cedar Door
Why: Sample products, CBD panels, Brunch & more

Piercing Party

When: March 21 & 22
Where: ByGeorge South Congress
Why: ERTH Jewelry piercings, Trunk show, Hosted by Nicole Trunfio

Read More From the Music + Film Issue | March 2020

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