Family-Friendly SXSW 2016 Events

Are you thinking you can’t enjoy all that South by Southwest has to offer with your kids?  Think again!  Below are our picks for family-friendly events during SXSW. Most are not SXSW official events, but you are sure to get your groove on (oh, and the kids might have some fun too).


Multi-day events: Concerts

KGSR Live Broadcasts – Wednesday, March 16 – Saturday, March 19, 6:00 am to 10:00 am (Saturday 8:00 am to 12:00 pm)

Enjoy live broadcasts by official SXSW artists at the W hotel in downtown Austin.  Performances will be held in the Great Room on the 2nd floor of the W.  Your $5 donation to the Make-a-Wish foundation of Central and South Texas gets you entry, and the first 300 guests to arrive will receive a complimentary breakfast treat.

KUT Live at the Four Seasons – Wednesday, March 16 – Saturday March 19, 7:00 am to 11:00 am (Saturday 8:00 am to 12:00 pm)

Head over to the Four Seasons hotel in downtown Austin for a series of short sets and interviews with 16 of the hottest acts of SXSW this year.  Entry fee is $10 for everyone 3 and above, which benefits the Seton Shivers Cancer Center.  Your $10 also buys you a breakfast taco and bottomless coffee.

Lucy’s Fried Chicken Revival – Wednesday, March 16 – Sunday, March 20, 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm daily

Lucy’s Fried Chicken on South Congress serves up 5 days of their famous fried chicken recipe, accompanied by an impressive set list of Texas and Americana musicians.  Free and open to the public.

Quantum Collective Southwest Invasion – Thursday, March 17 – Saturday, March 19; 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm

What could be more family-friendly than an all-ages music festival on the roof of Whole Foods downtown, right next to the playground? The Quantum Collective features over 30 performers over the course of the 3-day event.  Enjoy the music, and relax – whatever snacks you left at home can be picked up downstairs at Whole Foods.

South by San Jose – Wednesday, March 16 – Saturday, March 19; music starts at noon

Visit the San Jose hotel as the parking lot is transformed into a 5-day music festival during SXSW.  In addition to free live music, you can shop with local vendors onsite, and purchase concessions.  Also within walking distance to many local shops, restaurants, and other music venues, South by San Jose is a great central location during SXSW.

SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake – Thursday, March 17 – Saturday, March 19; gates open at 3:00 pm Thursday and Friday (12:00 pm on Saturday)

This SXSW official event is a series of free outdoor concerts for all ages at the Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake (formerly Auditorium Shores).  In recent years, upwards of 50,000 people have attended the concerts, so be ready for crowds.  There is still plenty of open space to let the kiddos roam.  Important point: the official event page specifies no outside food or drink, with the only exception being “food and beverage items made only for consumption by children under 5 years of age”.

The Little Yoga House Free Music for Families – Monday, March 14 – Friday, March 18, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Stop by the Little Yoga House for free live music every  weekday during SXSW.  Featured performers are Duece & Crystal, Strumero, Kosha Dillz, Simon Flory, and Full Service.

The Que Pastas CD Release Parties – Saturday, March 12 at Strange Brew, and Sunday, March 13 at Cherrywood Coffeehouse (both at 10 am)

Join one of Austin’s most popular children’s musicians for their CD release this weekend, along with opener Salim Nourallah.

TOMS One X One – Tuesday, March 15 – Saturday, March 19, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm (AM show) and 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm (PM show)

The TOMS store on South Congress hosts this all-ages event.  Each morning session includes music, crafts, and music lessons, and each evening session includes live music.  Free with your RSVP.

Multi-day events: ART

Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia – Friday, February 12 – Sunday April 17

Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh is exhibiting work over the span of his career at the Contemporary Austin during SXSW and beyond.  His official SXSW art installation features music from Devo, drawings and paintings, sculpture, and video animations.

SXSW Gaming Expo – Thursday, March 17 – Saturday, March 19, 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm

The SXSW Gaming Expo is a 3-day event at the Austin Convention Center where gamers can meet celebrities, watch live gaming tournaments, learn about new games in the market and the history of old ones, play a variety of games, and compete in a tournament, and have some fun at a cosplay tournament. Suitable for older children.

SX Create – Friday, March 11 – Sunday March 13, 11:00 am to 6:00 pm

SX Create is a 3-day event at the Palmer Events Center where attendees can learn about new technologies that are changing our future, and what today’s innovators are making with those inventions.  Technologies showcased in past years range from 3D printing to drones to biohacking.  Suitable for older children.

One-day events: CONCERTS

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Interactive Party Day One – Friday, March 11, 1:00 pm to 4:30 pmAdvertisement
Head over to Banger’s for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Party, featuring Knights of Steel.  Look for family-friendly local music, panel discussion, and a variety of activities.

Do512Family Picnic – Tuesday, March 15, 1:30 to 7:00 pm

The folks at Do512 are hosting their 2nd annual family picnic at Midway Food Park on 360.  The picnic includes a full lineup of family musicians, face-painting, the huge playscapes at the park, and a wide variety of food trucks (including several dessert trucks).


Family Music Meltdown – Wednesday, March 16, 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Check out this free family-friendly concert at the Pan Am Hillside in East Austin.  In addition to a stellar lineup of artists, there will be activities for the kids ranging from trampolines for jumping to science activities.

MyMusicRX You Who Rock Show for Kids – Thursday, March 17, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

For the fourth year in a row, Austin families are invited to rock out at the FADER FORT Presented by Converse. 100% of ticket sales will help MyMusicRx deliver the healing power of music to kids facing cancer and other serious illnesses, including locally at Dell Children’s Medical Center. Advance tickets are $20/adults or $25/day of show. Kids 10 and under are FREE but do require a $0 ticket. A VIP family-of-four-pack is available for $120 and includes complimentary breakfast, concert t-shirts, raffle tickets, and a special swag bag filled with sponsor gifts. All tickets include a pre-show kid’s craft zone, giant owl mascots.


All the Children Boogie – Friday, March 18, 11:00 am to 4:30 pm

Enjoy a free tribute to David Bowie at the Scottish Rite Theater, featuring local kid favorites such as Joe McDermott and the Hey Lollies, playing both their own songs and those of David Bowie.

Girls Rock SX Day Show – Friday, March 18, 11:00 am to 9:30 pm

Stop into Cherrywood Coffeehouse for this all-day show featuring female performers.  The outdoor area is a great place for kids to play while you relax and take in the music.

Peelander Fest – Friday, March 18, 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Peelander-fest hosts a free, all-ages show, all day at the Grackle on East 6th.  Acts from as far away as Japan will be performing at the show, which ends with a performance by the headliner, Peelander-Z.

Mad Tiger Fest – Sunday, March 20, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Head down to Threadgill’s for this all-ages music fest on the last day of SXSW.


Rock + Read – Sunday, March 20, 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Head over to the lawn at the Domain on the last day of SXSW to hear kid favorites such as the Que Pastas and Mister G, enjoy storytime with local authors reading their own books, a craft-making station, and trampolines for shedding that extra energy.

One-day events: ART

SXSWedu Expo – Tuesday, March 8, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Take in the SXSWedu Expo, a one-day event intended to intrigue learners of all ages.  Last year the event drew about 6,000 students, parents, and educators, so expect a crowd!

Youth Animation workshop – Saturday, March 12, 10:30 am to 3:30 pm

Kids interested in animation will love this hands-on workshop, where they’ll learn stop-motion techniques with animator Jeanne Stern.  Your $10 entry fee includes a pizza lunch, snacks, and beverages for the duration of the workshop.  Attendance is limited to 18 students, and open to ages 10-18 years old.

The PowerPuff Girls – Horn Sweet Horn – Monday, March 14, 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Fans of the PowerPuff series will love this event, which includes a parade and a screening on the Long Center Terrace of new episodes from the series.

Are any of your favorite family-friendly SXSW events missing from this list?  Tell us in the comments.

Amy Hardison
About Amy Hardison 3 Articles
Amy Hardison moved to Austin in September of 2001. She was born and raised in Manassas, Virginia, home of the first and second battles of of Manassas during the American Civil War, and sadly, Lorena and John Bobbitt. After graduating from William & Mary in Virginia and a 15-year career working mainly for startups, Amy took a break from full-time work to focus her family. She and her husband Michael have 2 children - Ruby, 5 ½, and Max, almost 2. Amy enjoys traveling with and without her children, cooking new foods and trying new restaurants, competitive swing dancing, and learning new ways to keep her son Max from destroying her house.

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