- March 12, 2015

12 FREE All Ages SXSW Events

No SXSW 2015 badge? No problem!  There are countless events happening all over town that are free and open to the public.  For ideas on where to go with kids in tow, you can see our list of 100+ family-friendly SXSW events here, or check out the list of SXSW 2015 official free events here. But, if you’d like a more manageable read, here are one dozen free, all ages events!

1. SXSW Gaming Expo – Friday, March 13, Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15 from 12-8 p.m. The Gaming Expo is the epicenter for gaming culture at SXSW. This diverse range of events combines well-loved elements of geek culture with the cross-console video game world. With panels at the Geek Stage, a free expo, rocking parties, demos, and networking opportunities, no event bridges the gap between industry insiders and the general public quite like SXSW Gaming. The Gaming Expo is open to the public with FREE Guest Pass wristbands, available in advance or onsite at the event. (Only visitors age 13 and up need a wristband.) Visit guestpass.sxsw.com for more information. SXSW Badge and Wristband holders do not need a Guest Pass to attend. Palmer Event Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, Austin.

2. SX Create – Friday, March 13, Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Doing creative and revolutionary things with new technologies embodies the spirit of the SXSW Interactive Festival, and nowhere is this more evident than the diverse mix of activities at SX Create, which is open to the public with FREE Guest Pass wristbands, available in advance or on-site at the event. 
(Only visitors age 13 and up need a wristband.) Click here for more information. City Terrace of The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside, Austin.

3. Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Party – Saturday, March 14 at 6:45 p.m. Join Sarah Ortiz, SowleSisters.com, and Charlie Belle for a night of fun — ending in true Smart Girls style, with a dance party with DJ Lauren Larose! FREE! Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, 79 Rainey Street, Austin.

4. Eco Light Garden – Sunday, March 15 – Saturday, March 21, from 7 p.m. – 2 a.m.  Celebrate the intersection between innovative lighting technology and interactive public art. This annual project provides a peaceful escape from the crowd and offers a chance to interact with the latest efficient LED technologies. This year, explore projects from Aerosol Warfare Studios, Barco, Crash Alchemy, Charles Gadeken, Gavvot Productions, Houndstooth, Ink Tank Art Collective, Lumenpulse, and Praxis Creatives. FREE! Republic Square Park, 422 Guadalupe Street, Austin.

5. Do512 Family Picnic – Tuesday, March 17 Rescheduled for Thursday, March 19, from 2-8:30 p.m. Do512Family and It’s Time Texas have teamed up to bring your family a fun and relaxing day of music and kids activities at Midway Food Park. Music from Wino Vino, The Tontons, The Suffers, Boss Street Brass Band, Austin School of Rock, The Groundwork Music Orchestra. In addition to the live music, there will also be a magic show with Magician Black Bert from Fantastic Magic Camp, balloon animals, face painting and other kid-friendly activities and games. FREE! RSVP here. The Midway Food Park, 1905 S. Capital of Texas Highway, Austin.

6. Family Music Meltdown – Wednesday, March 18, from 3-7:30 p.m. Gather the entire family and head to East Austin to rock out with Gina Chavez, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, The Not-Its!, The Jellydots, The Que Pastas, Big Don and Ralph’s World for the 2nd Annual Family Music Meltdown. FREE and open to the public. Pack a picnic or bring some money to order delicious food from Uncle Louie G’s and Lambert’s Foodapalooza food trucks. There will be plenty of entertainment on hand as well. Pan Am Park, 2100 E. 3rd Street, Austin. Update: This event has moved indoors. It will now be held in the Pan Am Rec Center gym (2100 E. 3rd Street).

7. Free Concerts at the Mexican American Cultural Center – Wednesday, March 18 & Thursday March 19 starting at 6 p.m. (Mexican American Experience) and Friday, March 20 & Saturday, March 21 starting at 4 p.m. (Pan Americana Festival 2015). Enjoy FREE live music on the grounds of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center at 600 River St. in Austin. Free shuttles are available as there will be no parking onsite.

Photo via SXSW

8. SXSW Outdoor Stage at Auditorium Shores – Thursday, March 19 (gate opens at 3 p.m.), Friday, March 20 (gate opens at 3 p.m.), and Saturday, March 21 (gate opens at noon). The SXSW Outdoor Stage at Auditorium Shores features a three-day series of FREE, charity beneficiary concert events with the beautiful Austin skyline serving as the backdrop. It is SXSW’s largest stage with more than 50,000 attendees over three days. The lineup includes Spoon, Ryan Bingham, and many more. See the schedule.

9. Flatstock 48 – Thursday, March 19, Friday, March 20, and Saturday, March 21, from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Presented by the American Poster Institute (API), Flatstock 48 will display the works of the world’s top gig poster artists. The show runs March 19-21 and will feature posters of varying styles, colors and techniques for sale by the very artists who created them. FREE and open to the public with FREE Guest Pass wristbands, available in advance or onsite at the event. (Only visitors age 13 and up need a wristband.) Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 4, Austin.

10. Girls Rock Austin SX Day Party – Friday, March 20, from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. See over a dozen girls rock the Cherrywood Coffeehouse stage. FREE admission. Cherrywood Coffeehouse, 1401 E. 38 1/2 Street, Austin.

11. Rock + Chalk at The Domain – Saturday, March 21, from 3-7:30 p.m. Seven bands including Ralph’s World, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, Elizabeth McQueen, The Jellydots, Joe McDermott, Groundwork Music Orchestra and The Que Pastas will rock on stage while the kids create chalk art in the Chalk Art Zone, presented by All Things Kids. FREE admission. Register here to win VIP Passes – some of which include free valet parking at The Domain the day of event! The Domain II, Amy Donovan Plaza, Austin. 

12. Mad Tiger Festival 2015 – Sunday, March 22, from 1-5 p.m. Peelander-Z, Mother Falcon and Koo Koo Kanga Roo are performing at this family-friendly, FREE unofficial SXSW showcase at Mueller Lake Park Outdoor Amphitheater, Mueller Blvd. and Aldrich Street, Austin.

Catherine Prystup is mama to three kiddos ranging in age from three to sixteen. Looking for more wisdom on how to spend your days? Head on over to LiveMom.com, a resource website for Austin-area moms (and dads, too!) where you will find more of her awesome wisdom.