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How Much Does SXSW Cost?

It’s difficult to say how much you’d spend at SXSW – the amount is infinite. You can do it for super cheap – if you keep an eye on the free parties, have a friend to stay with and already live in the US.

cost of going to sxsw

But if you don’t, like me, you could end up spending an absolute fortune.

Here’s a look at everything I spent at SXSW in 10 days from the start to finish of the festival.


How much does SXSW cost?

There was a time when I debated just getting an interactive ticket as the music line up didn’t look too good, and then I just thought that if I was going to do it I might as well do it and really go all out. So I bought the full access platinum ticket at $1575, in the fourth stage of purchasing (tickets go up closer to the time).

Total = £1095 | $1575


I booked into Hostel International (left) before I was even certain I was coming – back on the 1st October. I didn’t book for long enough though and so on the 6th November I booked the remaining time at Drifter Jacks 6 nights. Lesson learnt there – just a month and Drifter Jacks was almost twice as much when it’s usually the same price.

I actually spent longer at each hostel at the start and end but I’ve worked out the nights that cover just the festival.

Hostel International | 3 x £25.50 = £76.50

Drifter Jacks | 7 x £46.25 = £323.75

Total = £400.25 | $568.44


Getting to SXSW

I flew into Austin and am flying out of Minneapolis so this is obviously a little skewed, but just to give you an idea I paid £516.17 on the 20th December for my flight.

Total = £516.17 | $741.94


Cost of SXSW

So much food is free at SXSW but if you want something more than hostel porridge, free McDonalds and free tacos (pretty much what I survived on), here’s what else I bought.

  • 2 x sushi trays from Blue Grocery $6.99 x 2 = $13.98
  • Yakisoba at Alamo Cinema $9
  • Hotdogs at Alamo Cinema $9
  • Disgusting salad crepe at the stage at Ladybird Lake $9
  • Sushi at RA Sushi Bar $15
  • Chicken fajita salad at Isalias Tex Mex $9
  • Chicken rice thing at Llama Food Truck $11
  • First day taco meet up $30
  • Tacos food trcuk from near Rainey Street $5
  • Chocolate pretzels at the cinema $3

I’d paid for the taco meet up above when I bought my pass as I thought it’d be a good way to meet people, but there was definitely no need for that expense. My most regrettable spend for sure!

sushi boat

I was actually very lucky at SXSW as in addition to all the free food I got three dinners paid for me by friends – this incredible sushi boat (photo by Nick from NicksTravelBug), pizza one night and tacos another. But this is how much I spent so Ive left them out.

Total = £79.31 | $113.98


Cost of SXSW

  • Six drinks in a round at Maggie Maes $60
  • Four drinks at Richie Hawtin $20
  • Beer at Maggie Maes another night $5 (yeah, that’s CHVRCHES above)
  • Drink at Bangers $7

As I said, most of the drinks were free over the 10 days. These were just a few little misdemeanours where I’d misjudged the parties. But for the amount I drank, £64 is not bad!

Total = £64.01 | $92


Cost of coffee at SXSW

I bought coffee every day, from either Starbucks, Houndstooth, or Bat City Coffee in the Austin Convention Centre. The free stuff at the hostel didn’t quite hit the spot and I liked it as a reward for managing to get out of bed and Downtown.

It was usually around $2.50 a cup x 10.

Total = £17.39 | $25


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Cost of transport at SXSW

In my first hostel I tended to walk in a lot, even though it was 2 miles away. This wasn’t the best idea. I got tired, but it was so nice walking along the riverwalk on the sunny morn. When I didn’t walk, they seemed to just wave me on to the bus, not bothered whether I paid or not. Which was brilliant.

I also got two Lyfts, which is like Uber, seeing as they gave us all a $20 voucher at the festival, so those trips didn’t amount to much.

I’m going to have to estimate this one because they don’t give tickets on the buses. There was also a festival bus that went between the Convention Centre and the Alamo cinema but I never quite mastered it.

$20 on the bus ($1.75 a journey)

$5 on Lyfts (I had that free voucher)

Total = £17.39 | $25

Random expenses

Cost of things at SXSW

Socks – for that day when my feet were dying and it was only about 10am. I shouldn’t have walked two miles with uncomfortable trainers with no socks. I NEED FLIP FLOPS dammit. And then I accidentally bought kids socks which only fitted halfway up my feet. It wasn’t a good hour for me.

Total = £4.17 | $5.99

Final cost of SXSW

Cost of SXSW

Ticket = £1095

10 nights of peak time hostel accommodation = £400.25

Flight = £516.17

Other expenses = £79.31 + £64.01 + £17.39 + £17.39 + £4.17 = £182.27

+ $45 | £32

– which is the difference of what has actually gone from my purse
(which I presume I’ve spent on water, or other drinks / food, I guess, who knows… )

Total = £2225.69

(£222.60 per day)

But, after ticket, flight and accommodation, I actually only spent £21 a day and ate and drank like a trooper with constant entertainment from 9am to 6am (my latest night!).

Some of the best days of my life with free drinks, free food, incredible entertainment and a brilliant experience = priceless.

Is SXSW more or less than you thought?

I’m gonna say more because that pass price is a SHOCKER right?!