Audible is bringing a Sonic Ferris Wheel, game booths, and concessions to South by Southwest on Friday.

It’s one of the big activations at this year’s show.

The Audible Sound Experience will be at Third and Congress Avenue from Friday, March 8th, through Sunday, March 10th, and offers a carnival experience. It also includes an exclusive After Dark Party with a live performance by Grammy-nominated and multi-platinum-selling dance music duo The Knocks, in partnership with creative collective House of Yes.

Audible is owned by Amazon, which always puts on incredible activations at SXSW. A few years ago, they had a merry-go-round to promote Lizzo’s Big Girls show.

In addition to the carnival, Amazon Prime Video gives festivalgoers an immersive first look at its newest original series, Fallout. This year, it’s again taking over Hotel San Jose to create a post-apocalyptic terrain with activities like lassoing wasteland creatures, a shooting gallery, and encounters with rival factions.

Other SXSW sights not to be missed include Smirnoff’s Pop-up pickleball courts and Poo-Pourri spray’s 30-foot inflatable turd at the Camp Funk Experience.

Other activations include the Paramount’s The Lodge at the Clive Bar on Rainey Street. It’s the second year they’ve taken over the Clive Bar. This year, Paramount has put installations on the first floor dedicated to The Chi, Mean Girls, and Halo. Other floors are focused on Ink Master, with temporary airbrush tattoos, the iconic bridge of the U.S.S. Discovery, and more focused on Star Trek: Discovery. There’s even a space focused on Lawmen: Bass Reeves. The activation was well done last year and worth visiting, so it should be a fun time again.

South by Southwest 2024 kicks off in Austin on Friday, but SXSW Edu is already underway. This year, a crossover day, Thursday, is where people with SXSW badges can attend SXSW Edu programming. It’s a twofer on March 7th; all SXSW badges are admitted to SXSW EDU content.

There are so many incredible panels, parties, and performances this year, and Hugh Forrest, Co-President of SXSW and Chief Programming Officer, has been highlighting panels and speakers on LinkedIn. If you’re not following him, you should be. He’s got the scoop on everything.

SXSW is also full of surprises.

This week, SXSW announced the opening day keynote titled “Breaking Barriers, Shaping Narratives: How Women Lead On and Off the Screen,” on March 8th, which is International Women’s Day, featuring Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, Katie Couric, Errin Haines, Brooke Shields and Nancy Wang Yuen.

Also, Forrest advises local attendees to pick up their badges early. “You can pick up your SXSW badge beginning Monday, March 4. Early week badge pick avoids all the stress of longer lines!” Forrest posted. More information can be found here.

UT at SXSW also has some great panels on brain implants, robotics, and Austin as the next hub for Life Sciences. UT’s programming is taking place at Antone’s Nightclub, which it has dubbed the Hook “Em House.

And there are more than 60 sessions focused on AI. Forrest created this list of the 60+ sessions in the AI track (March 11-15).

Forrest also highlighted a lot of content focused on Quantum computing.

Silicon Hills News tends to focus on Austin, San Antonio, and overall Texas-based content during SXSW; this year’s festival has plenty of it.  Forrest highlighted Austin-based sessions in one of his LinkedIn posts linked to this filtered list of Austin-based content.

And here are some excellent guidepost lists:

The Austin American Statesman has a comprehensive curated list of free stuff for the badgeless at SXSW.

Festival Saviors has a list of top attractions, musical and otherwise, at SXSW.

Are you looking for more activations and places of interest for badge holders and badgeless? Check out this list put together by ATXGossip.

Marc Nathan, a super-connector in the Austin startup scene, created the SXSW VIP Insider’s Guide, a comprehensive digest of tips, resources, and private events during Austin’s second and third weeks of March. 

Marisa Vickers of Builders + Backers also has a great list here.