Austin’s ten-day SXSW festival (South by Southwest; sxsw.com), held in mid-March, has become the pre-eminent music and film conference in the nation – and quite a bit more besides. In recent years it’s also morphed into one of the nation’s foremost stages for tech companies to display their latest creations, reflecting Austin’s surging stock in the industry.

Even if you can’t afford to attend, the city is an exciting place to be during SXSW and there are literally hundreds of unofficial gigs and events open to all. To most locals, in fact, what’s going on inside the conference is of secondary importance to the opportunity to catch some of the best acts on the planet in their favourite haunts.

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