South by Southwest is best done with an official badge. The SXSW badge lets you into all the keynote talks, panel discussions, and some of Austin’s best parties, movies, music, and more.

But if you don’t have a badge, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the festivities. You can attend many badge–less events–some are free, some charge a ticket, and almost all require an RSVP. On the eve of the big kickoff for SXSW, it’s time to fill your calendar with events.

Don’t worry if plans change. SXSW is known for serendipitous encounters. Magic can happen with an unscheduled meeting in a hotel lobby or bar. So be open to talking to strangers.

And remember to use ridesharing whenever possible, wear comfortable shoes, drink a lot of water (bring a refillable water bottle with you), bring a phone charger or carry an extra battery pack, and be open to chance encounters of the creative kind.

SXSW has its own list of top free events. It includes Austin Industry Day at the Creative Industries Expo on Wednesday, March 15th. The Expo is open to all Austin industry professionals – no credential required from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Austin Convention Center.

Capital Factory House at SXSW – kicks off with the Capital Factory Startup Crawl Friday evening at 5 p.m. No badge is required, but it does require RSVP and tickets.

The Inc. Founders House at Foxy’s Proper Pub, 201 Brazos Street  – SXSW, runs from March 10-13th and is open to non-badge holder entrepreneurs and features curated conversations, cocktails, and more. Request an invitation here. March 10-13th.

Fast Company Grill at Cedar Door Bar & Grill – 201 Brazos Street is also open to non-badge holders. It features unique content, exclusive product demos, tasting and interactive experiences, and networking. March 10-13th.

SHE Media takes place March 11th and 12th at The Native at 807 East 4th in Austin. It will examine the science and storytelling around women’s whole health. Attendees will hear from experts and thought leaders, including Katie Couric, Maria Shriver, Christy Turlington Burns, Dr. Laurie Santos, Phoebe Robinson, Judy Greer, and more. Tickets required.

The Future of Food 2023 – SXSW event series is free and open at 1400 Lavaca Street and features conversations, art installations, and delicious tastings.

For more free events, check out these lists:

Marc Nathan, the author of the Texas Squared Newsletter, created the Texas Squared VIP Insider Events Guide 2023.

Texas Venture Association’s The Investors’ SXSW 2023 List

SXSW 2023 – Unofficial Events Schedule

Yoni’s OFFICIAL SXSW 2023 Curated Events + Parties List

FIESTA Calendar

Marissa Vickers with Builders + Backers SXSW 2023 List.