The city of Austin cancelled the 2020 South by Southwest festival in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first time in 34 years of operation that the big tech-and-culture event had been halted. Organizers said at the time that they were looking into rescheduling the event, as well as at setting up “a virtual SXSW online experience,” and today they announced that it will take place in March 2021.
Called SXSW Online, the event promises “conference keynotes and sessions, screenings, showcases, networking, and exhibitions,” over two separate sessions: SXSW Edu Online, which focuses on innovation in education, and the broader SXSW Online, with digital film and musical festivals, and various online panels that members of the community will be able to propose and comment on, starting on October 6. The announcement makes no mention of the SXSW Gaming Expo, the part of the show that’s most directly of interest to us, but it’s possible that it (or something related) could be announced later, either as an online digital showcase of its own or through gaming-related panels.
“The challenge of building a new future is one that we’re excited to tackle. This has been such a year of change and we, like the entire world, are reshaping our perspective on how we connect,” SXSW CEO Roland Swenson said. “We’re pleased to be working on SXSW Online as part of our program for 2021, and regardless of platform, we will continue to bring together the brightest minds from creative industries worldwide.”
SXSW Edu Online is scheduled for March 9-11, 2021, while SXSW Online will run March 16-20, 2021. SXSW is also still working to put together a physical event for 2021, and will provide more information on that as it becomes available.