The Ultimate Experiential Guide to SXSW 2024

Photo by Diego Donamaria/Getty Images for SXSW
Photo by Diego Donamaria/Getty Images for SXSW

SXSW is calling all experiential creators to Austin starting on Friday, March 8. While XP pros will be behind the scenes activating everything from pop-ups and panels to film screenings and comedy shows, they’ll still find there’s a plethora of experiential festival content to soak up once they’re off the clock. As the XP Land team gears up for our annual Texas migration, we’ve put together a list of can’t-miss panels, gatherings and activations — the ultimate experiential guide to SXSW 2024.

Keep reading to discover our curated calendar of events, why these particular happenings are on our radar, and how to support the 2023 XLISTERs activating both inside and outside the convention center.


Human-Centric Immersive Experience Design

“Discover how immersive entertainment is evolving as a transformative medium, blending art, film, and music through innovative methods and spaces, fostering human connection and redefining audience engagement.”

Why it’s on our radar: We’re excited to discover how leaders from the tech, film and art worlds create awe-inspiring experiences centered around human connection. And with XLISTER Nancy Baker Cahill on the panel, expect her thoughtful take on emerging platforms and venues.

The Power of Belonging: How Ending Loneliness Will Save Our Planet

“This session will explore and incorporate elements of ancient futures, community architecture, and experience design to collaboratively shape a world where everyone feels a sense of belonging.”

Why it’s on our radar: We’re all about fostering belonging — and Radha Agrawal is leading the charge as the force behind Daybreaker, the early morning dance and wellness movement with a global community of almost half a million people.

Learning to Love Midlife

New York Times bestselling author Chip Conley offers an alternative narrative to the way we commonly think of our 40s, 50s and 60s. Drawing on the latest social science research, inspiring stories, and timeless wisdom, he reveals 12 reasons why life gets better with age.”

Why it’s on our radar: XLISTER Chip Conley has always been a man on a mission. First, he revolutionized the boutique hotel scene by founding Joie de Vivre Hospitality; then he co-founded the Modern Elder Academy, the world’s first “midlife wisdom school.” We’re all about his dedication to reframing the concept of aging, especially with an experiential lens.


XR Experience Exhibition

“The SXSW XR Experience brings Austin into the virtual world through AR, VR and mixed-reality technologies.”

Why it’s on our radar: Virtual and augmented reality not only enhance the world around us (hello, Apple Vision Pro and the future of experiences) but can also revolutionize how we live our lives. We’re excited to check out projects that combine two of our biggest obsessions — storytelling and technology.

Immersive Wonders: The Sphere & Beyond

Explore the evolution of immersive experiences, from Las Vegas’s Sphere to Dubai’s COP21, showcasing AI-driven physical interactions, live orchestras, and the blend of storytelling, neuroscience, and play.”

Why it’s on our radar: A formidable group of industry leaders — including Nathalie van Sasse van Ysselt, Vice President of the Sphere, and Tristan Hupe-Guimarães, Creative Business Development at Tellart — will be on the stage, and we can’t wait to hear how these legends fuse creativity and technology.


XR Experience Competition: The Golden Key

What power do myths have? How do the myths of the future get shaped? ‘The Golden Key’ brings audiences into contact with the mythological dreams of an AI as it writes and visualizes a never-ending story.”

Why it’s on our radar: Immersive theater is going AI. We’re excited to take on the role of the “trickster” to shape the story of “The Golden Key” (from the minds of Marc Da Costa and XLISTER Matthew Niederhauser) and explore how AI can impact the future of events and experiences.

XR Experience Spotlight 1

“To exist in the virtual world is to have two bodies, four hands, two hearts. In ‘Shadowtime,’ a guide to this double world leads you through questions around the climate crisis, irreconcilable realities, and the virtual as a place to take shelter.”

Why it’s on our radar: The VR installation from Deniz Tortum and XLISTER Sister Sylvester both celebrates and challenges our increasing dependence on technology — a common theme throughout the festival (and the XP industry).

Convergence: Bridging Community through Collaboration & Connectivity

“Come together to celebrate diversity, foster collaboration, and ignite transformative change across borders. Together, we can build a more inclusive, connected world where every voice is heard, and every community thrives.”

Why it’s on our radar: Of course, there are plenty of XP panels on the docket, but we’re excited to explore the Maker’s Market to support local small businesses, indulge in the Culinary Showcase and dance the jet lag away at the after-party. After all, the best way to understand the power of experiential is to… experience it.


New Horizons: Empowering the New Generation of XR Creators

“Filmmakers, game developers, technologists and storytellers are converging to create a new hybrid of experiences. A fusion where narrative richness and interactive engagement collide.”

Why it’s on our radar: Our industry is in the midst of incredible transition and opportunity. And, as technology and creativity become increasingly intertwined, a new group of storytellers is emerging, including panelist, virtual reality pioneer and XLISTER Nonny de la Peña.

Disrupting the Long-Monopolized Pro Wrestling Industry

“From showcasing real-life entrepreneurialism to giving wrestlers the capacity to reinvent themselves on their own terms, AEW’s rise is based on an unprecedented playground for creativity.”

Why it’s on our radar: We’re always looking for opportunities to champion the XP prowess and leadership of All Elite Wrestling’s (AEW) founder, XLISTER Tony Khan. If you’re not already on the professional-wrestling-as-XP-gold bandwagon, we’ll help you see the light.

Immersive Experts Unleashed: Building Successful Experiences

“Join a global panel of industry experts as they discuss the evolution of immersive experiences. The session will explore how customer demands and technology are influencing the sector, the trade-off between licensing or developing content, and what it takes to craft both compelling and profitable experiences. Topics will include the role of storytelling in crafting successful experiences and whether narratives or world-building are more impactful, how much agency to provide audiences, and the opportunities and challenges of integrating AI and emerging technologies into interactive environments.”

Why it’s on our radar: While this session seems more focused on the marketing side of experiential, it never hurts to learn from experts from other sectors. And storytelling is at the heart of experiences, no matter the format.


Create Immersive Experiences Using Data-Driven Insights

“In this interactive workshop, participants will be broken into teams to partake in an engaging brand challenge to reimagine the possibilities of retail with the support of MG2 Advisory’s primary research findings around consumer behaviors, industry trends, and insights around technology adoption and expectations.”

Why it’s on our radar: There’s so much pressure to blend digital and physical worlds, and we’re excited to learn how others are stepping up to the challenge.

Location-Based Entertainment, An Emerging Financial Model for Immersive Projects

Join us for a conversation between seasoned producers on what types of projects are most suitable for location-based entertainment (LBE) distribution and how to set expectations for investors and operators.”

Why it’s on our radar: As we already know, nothing tells a story better than an immersive experience — just ask the superfans of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, Sleep No More or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. While we anticipate a strong marketing focus in this session, LBE models are only growing in popularity, no matter the brand or industry.


The Experience Economy: The Future of Events & Culture

Panelists from Live Nation, Visa, and Pourri will discuss strategies for challenging and engaging audiences through cutting-edge technology, imaginative storytelling, and customer-centric innovation, creating value for attendees through every step of their journey.”

Why it’s on our radar: It’s a constant challenge to reinvent our events and experiences, year after year, while still making them engaging and memorable. Again, there will probably be a heavy emphasis on the marketing aspect of experiential marketing here, but we’re looking forward to lessons from brand leaders who have to do a lot with limited resources and tough competition.


So, You Wanna Reduce the Environmental Impact of Your Tour?

An interactive session engaging the audience will inspire and educate about easy steps everyone can take to reduce the impact of touring and events.”

Why it’s on our radar: Concert tours’ massive energy consumption, plus noise and light pollution, can have catastrophic long-term impact. We’re excited to hear how tour managers are reducing waste (and how we can apply their philosophies to our own projects).

Join us in XP Land. A community for experiential creatives and experience-makers, brand leaders and IP-owners, space stewards and venue visionaries — all of those in the business of epic gatherings and live, immersive storytelling.

Welcome To
Experiential Is Everything

XP Land is for experiential creatives and experience-makers, brand leaders, and IP-owners, space stewards and venue visionaries — all those in the business of epic gatherings and live, immersive storytelling.