The best venues for hosting events during SXSW season in Austin!

Midwest House at Half Step on Rainey Street during SXSW

Springtime in Austin, TX marks the peak of the festival season, featuring ideal weather temperatures and the return of Mexican free-tailed bats from their winter migration, attracting tourists and locals alike. Fusebox, Moontower Comedy, Field Guide, and Hot Luck are some of the few notable festivals and events to keep an eye on. All of these activities contribute to a vibrant, post-winter atmosphere in the capital of Texas. Among the most iconic events though has to be South by Southwest (SXSW), captivating the city for two weeks in March.

SXSW is a film, interactive media, and music festival and conference that takes place annually. SXSW started in 1987 and has since grown to become one of the largest and most well-known events of its kind and gathers professionals, enthusiasts, and creatives from around the world. Companies attend SXSW for various reasons, finding value in networking opportunities, exposure and brand visibility, and extended learning from the various panels, presentations, and discussions on innovation, culture, and creativity.

If you’re planning a meetup or event during this festival season to boost your brand awareness or build your network, finding the right venue is foundational in curating an experience to make a lasting impression. This guide will outline why selecting the right venue is key, the types of venues most suitable for different types of events, the best party venues in Austin, and how we can help you plan an unforgettable event.

Best event venues in Austin, TX

We have curated the best event venues in Austin to help you plan your next event during SXSW 2024. The benefit of these venues too is that they are all in the Austin Venue Collective network, which matches party hosts to local venues and provides full-service event management, creating an easy and seamless experience for everyone involved.

Rainey Street Venues

Half Step on Rainey Street

Half Step: This relaxed craft cocktail bar features a cozy refurbished home with a bar and stage indoors, and a spacious patio with picnic tables, an outdoor bar, a stage, food trucks, and yard games. Offering semi-private rentals for 20-80 guests and patio/bar buyouts for 80-300 guests, the venue collaborates with onsite food trucks Spicy Boys Fried Chicken and Little Lucy’s Donuts and can provide live music coordination.

The Stay Put on Rainey Street

Stay Put: Austin’s first and only brewpub on Rainey Street provides a unique atmosphere with brewed beers, draft cocktails, and wine, complemented by indoor-outdoor space and a wrap-around patio. Offering semi-private events for 20-80 guests and bar buyouts for 80-160 guests, the venue can help facilitate catering and live music coordination.

Tipsy Alchemist on Rainey Street

Tipsy Alchemist: This modern, mezzanine-level cocktail bar features two bars, a covered patio, indoor and outdoor lounge seating, and A/V capabilities. With semi-private events for 20-100 guests and bar buyouts accommodating 100-300 guests, the venue offers catering options and live music coordination.

Downtown Central Business District Venues

Diner Bar & Grey Market in downtown Austin

Diner Bar & Grey Market: Sister restaurant concepts adjacent to the Thompson Hotel offer Southern and Texas-inspired menus curated by two-time James Beard-winning Chef Mashama Bailey. The venues provide options for semi-private dining accommodating 10-50 guests and private dining or restaurant buyouts for events with up to 150 guests.

El Cockfight in Austin

El Cockfight: A two-story venue with a long bar, booth seating, a small stage, a back private room, and mezzanine space on the first floor. The expansive second-floor rooftop includes an open-air patio with an additional bar and skyline views. Bar buyouts are available for up to 200 guests, plus catering coordination is available as needed.

Red Headed Stephchild in downtown Austin

Red Headed Stepchild: Also known as Floppy Disk Repair, this private speakeasy bar is perfect for intimate and exclusive events for up to 40 guests. The space is complete with a bar, banquette seating, and a small area for live music, plus has catering coordination available.

Seven Grand - Las Perlas in downtown Austin

Seven GrandLas Perlas: Seven Grand is a curated whiskey bar with 400+ premium whiskeys, stage, and pool tables that can host up to 200 guests. Las Perlas is a tequila-mezcal-focused bar, boasting an impressive collection of 400+ agave spirits, stage, and stunning Mexican mural art that can host up to 100 guests. These bars have separate entrances but share a back patio, home to Caña Rum Bar, for a unique three-concept space that can host up to 300 guests if rental all together.

Small Victory Speakeasy in downtown Austin

Small Victory: This intimate speakeasy is discreetly built within a parking garage, offering a cozy and exclusive atmosphere with dim lighting, expertly crafted classic cocktails, and curated house snacks. The venue accommodates semi-private events for 10-20 guests and buyouts for 20-40 guests.

West 6th Street Venues

Codependent Coffee & Cocktails in downtown Austin

Codependent Cocktails + Coffee: This is an all-day and night cocktail and coffee bar with Italian luxury-inspired design, featuring multiple lounge areas, a wraparound bar, TVs, and an outdoor side patio. The venue offers semi-private rentals for 10-80 guests and bar buyouts for 80-200 guests, providing options for both in-house food and outside catering coordination.

Green Light Social Austin on West 6th Street

Green Light Social / Benny’s Room: Green Light Social is a rooftop bar that offers skyline views, indoor and outdoor spaces, two bars, lounge seating, a stage, and state-of-the-art A/V. The venue accommodates events ranging from intimate gatherings in Benny’s Room speakeasy for 20-40 guests, Main Bar buyouts for 40-230 guests, to full venue buyouts for up to 270 guests, with catering coordination and resident DJ options available.

Rustic Tab on West 6th Street in Austin

Rustic Tap: This Texas-inspired, outdoor bar space includes multiple TV screens, life-size beer pong, two bars, and a large stage for live music. Semi-private rentals are available for 20-200 guests and bar buyouts for up to 500 guests. In-house food and outside catering and live music coordination are available.

Other unique venues

SXSW Center lobby in downtown Austin

SXSW Center: Explore a one-of-a-kind event venue at the SXSW Center, housed in a downtown Austin high-rise, featuring a rooftop terrace with unrivaled views for up to 150 and the option to rent the large lobby and 1st-floor courtyard spaces separately or together for up to 300. Elevate your event experience with the added convenience of catering and bar coordination.

Why venue selection is key

Several factors come into play when selecting a venue, and these considerations can significantly influence the overall experience for attendees.

Location and accessibility are critical in making sure it’s easy for attendees to reach the location without hassle, either by walking, scooters, ride-sharing, or public transit. Most festival events and meetups are located downtown, but many locations in East, South, and North Austin provide fun and unique experiences as well.

The ambiance of the venue is also a key factor for two reasons. First, the ambiance should align with the theme or purpose of the meetup or event. Are you hosting a casual networking event or a more intimate executive dinner? Second, the ambiance should align with your brand to reflect the desired image and impression you want to convey to attendees.

The venue should be able to comfortably accommodate the number of guests you plan to invite as well. Capacity is important to consider so your guests don’t feel too crowded in a small space, nor feel like they are swimming in too large of a space. Having a versatile venue that can adapt to different setups and activities is beneficial.

Different venues offer different amenities as well, so it’s important to consider the needs of your event. Audio-visual equipment, live entertainment, food and beverage packages, and rain coverage in case of inclement weather are just a few important details to ask about.

One of the most important aspects of venue selection is making sure it’s aligned with your budget. Determining your all-in budget can significantly help you narrow down your venue search. It’s essential to factor in not just F&B minimums and rental costs, but also any additional fees and services provided by the venue.

Tips for hosting successful events during SXSW 2024

Hosting a successful event during peak festival season requires meticulous planning and intentionality to wow and inspire your guests. First and foremost, plan early and don’t wait to secure a location as venues tend to book up quickly. Finalize your budget and event goals, and know your audience to tailor your event and maximize engagement. Promote your event early and strategically to cut through the noise of everything else going on in the city. Vendors, such as catering, A/V, and entertainment can also book up quickly, so reach out early for availability and quotes. As the date approaches, button up final details and logistics to ensure a seamless execution that leaves a lasting impression. Success leading up to springtime festival season in Austin hinges on proactive preparation and a well-executed plan.

How Austin Venue Collective can help you plan your next event

Festival season in Austin, TX is fast approaching with SXSW 2024 just around the corner in March. If you haven’t started planning your event yet, no matter what the size and scope, we recommend getting a jump start to secure a venue today to make the most of this buzz-worthy season!

Austin Venue Collective partners with a unique selection of bars, restaurants, and tasting rooms to offer a variety of spaces for both corporate and personal events. We are the easiest way for party hosts to find a venue with your style, size, budget, and location all carefully considered.

Our one-stop-shop approach helps you find the perfect party venue, so you can focus on what matters most: bringing your people together. While we can connect you to some of the best venues in Austin, what matters is that you know you’re partnering with a team that cares about your experience—and providing your party with a memorable and joyous celebration. View our venues and let us help you plan your next best event!

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