One of the world’s leading festivals of music, film, technology and ideas is coming exclusively to Sydney, bringing a week of Next-Big-Thing moments.

“Imagine a conference with the vibe of Glastonbury,” says South by Southwest (SXSW) Sydney managing director Colin Daniels. “It's the world’s fair of the creative industries.” Daniels has attended the Austin, Texas-born innovation conference an impressive 19 times but there’s something about the open-ended possibilities of the Sydney iteration (the first outside North America in its 37-year history) that whips up this kind of evangelism, even in first-time attendees.

Sydney SXSW, NSW

With more than 1000 events across seven days, spread out from Darling Harbour to Chippendale and other city-fringe suburbs, SXSW Sydney (15 to 22 October) introduces innovative concepts in tech, music, film, gaming, advertising and marketing to an expected 100,000 participants. But it’s less about the variety of subject matter, says Daniels, than the alchemy of these ideas intersecting. “What makes South by Southwest so special is the convergence. There are lots of conferences and events that are industry-specific but when you bring all those industries together, that’s when the magic happens.”

AI is expected to be a hot topic, with quantitative futurist Amy Webb (who Forbes decreed as one of the top five women changing the world) the first keynote speaker named. “We want to show you the optimistic side as well as the pessimistic side,” says Daniels. “Amy was talking about the future of AI long before many others were.”

Speaking of the future: about 300 emerging musical artists are slated to play across more than 500 showcases throughout the festival. “[SXSW Sydney head of music] Claire Collins saw Billie Eilish playing to 200 people. I saw Mumford & Sons when they were unsigned. That’s South by Southwest – it’s all about what’s next.”

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Image credit: Jordan Kirk, Jane Greer, Brittany Hallberg

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