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Arts & Culture

SXSW 2018: 16 Things You Should Know About Austin

Consider this a little guide on how to get the most out of Austin

The crowd during a SIP SIP concert at the Spiderhouse Ballroom during SXSW last year.

With SXSW kicking off this week, Austinites and visitors alike can expect a bit of chaos. If you're a newbie headed to the festival, no worries. We’ve compiled a list of stories to help orient you to the city.

Consider this a little guide on how to get the most out of Austin.

Music Is All Around — Not Just During SXSW

Regardless of what you think of Austin calling itself the "Live Music Capital of the World," you’ve got to admit it is pretty effective branding. Even people who don’t like music, and who’ve never been here, equate the city with a vibrant scene.

How Did Austin Become The ‘Live Music Capital Of The World’?

Austin’s Once And Future Weirdness

“Keep Austin Weird.” The phrase is printed on T-shirts, bumper stickers, posters; it’s part of Austin’s national reputation. Some residents say that the city is losing its unique weirdness; some lament that it's already gone.
Others say the weirdness is alive and well.

Is Austin Really Still Keeping It Weird?

Austinites Talk Funny

Sure, Austin is full of weird little tics that make Austin Austin. How can you tell natives from newcomers?

Listen to how they pronounce street names.

The (Mis)Pronunciations That Keep Austin Weird

There’s Lots To Do Here

In 2016, The New York Times published a travel guide to Austin, “36 Hours in Austin, Texas." It recommended barbecue, guitars and food – lots of it. That guide inspired one “traveler” to hop on a plane and follow the Grey Lady’s itinerary to a T.

This is that hypothetical traveler’s (satirical) story.

36 Hours In Austin, Realistically

You Can Crack A Cold One On Some Streets

One of our listeners had a hunch that it might be legal to walk down the street with an open beer in most of Austin's residential neighborhoods.

We answered his question as part of our crowdsourced reporting project.

Is It Really Legal To Walk Down The Street With A Beer In Austin Neighborhoods?

Beware The Grackles

Some birds are well-liked. Some are considered pests. Many just slip under the radar. But not the grackle.

The grackle demands that you take notice – and you’ll notice many grackles around Austin.

Why Do Grackles Flock To Grocery Store Parking Lots At Dusk?

Austin’s Black Population Is Shrinking

Even though the population of Austin is booming, thousands of black residents have moved away in recent years.

A listener wanted to know why, so we investigated.

Austin’s Population Is Booming. Why Is Its African-American Population Shrinking?

Come On In, The Water’s Fine

There are a number of swimming holes in Central Texas, so grab your swimsuit and take a splash.

Before You Dive In, Check Out These Central Texas Swimming Holes

But Wait, Don’t Swim At Lady Bird Lake

Don’t accept an invite to take a swim at Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake). There are plenty of beautiful (legal) places to swim in Austin – but this isn’t one of them.

Yup, It’s Still Illegal to Swim in Lady Bird Lake. Here’s Why.

Feel The Beat Miles Away From Downtown

Even if you’re staying at an Airbnb in Hyde Park, you might still hear bands playing at clubs all the way downtown.

Wind and heat enable the noise to travel to residential areas. And that might be the small price to pay for staying closer to SXSW festivities.

Here’s Why Concert Noise From Downtown Sometimes Makes Its Way To Hyde Park

You Can Probably Spot The Capitol Anywhere

Over the years, Austin’s skyline has changed, and new skyscrapers have sprung up all around the Capitol. But there are some places you just can’t build.

How Do Capitol View Corridors Preserve Sights Of Austin’s Most Famous Building?

Art Is Hidden In Plain Sight

On the underpass walls along Lamar Boulevard near Fifth Street, you’ll notice a row of blank blue panels on either side. What the heck are those things?

What The Heck Are Those Blue Panels Along The Lamar Underpass?

Austin Is Hot

Remember that water bottle during SXSW. Austin is hot – it is Texas after all.

A longtime Austinite says it wasn’t always this way. We gathered data that prove she’s right.

Austin Used To Be Cooler, Literally

Festivalgoers Leave Loads Of Trash

SXSW-related trash has increased as more and more attendees flock to Austin for the festival.

Meet the people who clean up after the festivities.

As SXSW Parties On, The City Cleans Up

You’ll Get Tons Of Free Swag

Prepare to walk out of SXSW with sunglasses, stickers, tote bags, koozies and more.

Companies give out a lot of free stuff, but does it help their brands?

All The Free Swag At SXSW Probably Isn’t Accomplishing Much

Don’t Move Here. (But If You Do, Get Ready To Spend A Lot On Rent.)

We'd say, "Don't even think about it," but it wouldn't do us any good. People keep moving here, and that population explosion hasn't been kind to Austin's renters – who make up more than half the city's population.

Want A Two-Bedroom Apartment In Austin? Get A Job That Pays $23 An Hour