SXSW Sydney Announces First Lineup Of Speakers & Performers For October 2023
— Updated on 10 February 2023

SXSW Sydney Announces First Lineup Of Speakers & Performers For October 2023

— Updated on 10 February 2023
Chris Singh
Chris Singh

Before 2023 is done and dusted, Sydney will have made history by being the first city outside of Austin, Texas to host the forward-thinking SXSW (South By Southwest). Running between Sunday, October 15 and Sunday, October 22, the inaugural SXSW Sydney lineup will bring together a patchwork of Asia-Pacific’s creative industries across the pillars of Tech and Innovation, Gaming, Music, Screen and Culture, spread across inner Sydney with numerous venues transformed into kinetic hubs of showcases, concerts and keynotes.

At least that’s how it should run if the original SXSW is anything to go by. Since 1987, the one-of-one festival has become one of the world’s most anticipated cultural events, with people from all over the world descending upon Austin, Texas for a week filled with music, big-ticket film premieres and tech showcases. It’s a mega-festival, so to speak, so seeing how it’s all translated to SXSW Sydney will be, if nothing else, fascinating. Consider it the Olympics of cultural festivals.

With 2023 rearing up, the SXSW Sydney lineup has revealed a few details on what we can expect from that week in October. We’ve broken it down into bite-sized pieces so you can get across it and decide whether or not it’s worth picking up those early bird Platinum and Industry badges (which act as your tickets for the week).

Where Will SXSW Sydney Be Held?

There needs to be a massive, walkable precinct for SXSW and it seems organisers have landed on Inner Sydney for the event. Branching out from Sydney CBD, SXSW will take place around the core areas of Haymarket, Darling Harbour, Ultimo and Chippendale, all of which will be transformed by mini-festivals, performances, premieres, exhibitions, keynotes, pitches and networking events.

How Will SXSW Sydney Work?

The SXSW Sydney Conference, which is one of the main parts of the festival, will take place across ICC Sydney, UTS and The Powerhouse Museum with more than 400 keynotes, presentations, panels, workshops and mentor sessions leaning into all aspects of creativity.

This will include the SXSW Sydney Technology & Innovation Exhibition that’ll rope in numerous companies from across the Asia-Pacific region showcase innovative and emerging technologies in a similar fashion to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that happens in Las Vegas at the top of January each year.

Startup Village will be in place to serve as the cultural hub of SXSW with a variety of presentations and workspace areas, although it’s not yet clear exactly where this will be located.

SXSW Sydney 2023 Music Festival will run through the entire week and break up all those industry events with showcases in multiple live music venues across town. I’m not sure if we’ll see the hundreds upon hundreds of big-name acts flooding SXSW Sydney, much like they do for SXSW in Austin, but things are looking promising from the first line-up.

The first round of musicians appearing at SXSW Sydney includes Nigerian-British songwriter Connie Constance, Canadian new-wave artist Ekkstacy, London quartet Los Bitchos, Japanese punk rockers Otoboke Beaver, and American rapper redevil. That’s far from all, of course, and don’t worry if you’ve never heard of them – SXSW’s music program is almost always hinged on up-and-coming acts peppered with a few big names.

SXSW Sydney Screen Festival will hold up the film side of things, with a program focused on premieres, episodic content, digital, XR and social content pulled from creatives in Asia-Pacific. Whether or not it’s as glitzy and high-profile as SXSW in Austin remains to be seen, but at least there’ll be a film festival aspect, which has been integral to how the event has worked for the past few decades.

Finally, SXSW Sydney Gaming Festival will be popping up around a few venues in Sydney, with over 100 local and international indie games playable for anyone who wants to sit down and spend a few hours soaking up the gaming industry.

Speakers Confirmed So Far

A big part of SXSW is always the keynotes. Everyone from Barack Obama to Elon Musk has popped through SXSW in Austin over the years for many talks about the creative industries. For SXSW Sydney, speakers confirmed so far have been listed below.

The Session Select program will work a bit like TED Talks, but will be open for individuals or groups to submit proposals for solo presentations, panels and workshops. If you’re interested, make sure you apply here before February 28.

  • Andrew Pask
  • Ben Lamm
  • Guy Kawasaki
  • Jack Reis
  • Kyas Hepworth
  • Larissa Behrendt
  • Manal Al-Sharif
  • Michael J. Biercuk
  • Per Sundin
  • Que Minh Luu
  • Robyn Denholm
  • Rohit Bhargava
  • Sam Barlow
  • Sean Miyashiro
  • Sheila Nguyen
  • Sung-Eun Youn
  • Tom Verrilli
  • Yiying Lu
  • Yoomin Yang

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Chris Singh
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.


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