SXSW Festival Cancelled After Austin Mayor Declares ‘Local Disaster’

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 16: Haelos performs onstage during the PANDORA Discovery Den SXSW on March 16, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Pandora)
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Pandora

Organizers of the South By Southwest Festival said late Friday that they are complying with the Austin government’s decision to cancel the March dates for the annual event, which typically brings thousands of cinephiles and tech enthusiasts to the Texas city.

“We are devastated to share this news with you,” festival organizers said in a note posted to the official SXSW Twitter account. “‘The show must go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”

SXSW said that as recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health stated that “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gathering will make the community safer.”

However, Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler reportedly said at a Friday press conference he had declared a local disaster in the city and issued an order canceling the conference. Austin officials have reportedly said there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, which is where Austin is located.

Earlier this week, Austin health officials said they were testing “one or more individuals” who are considered “persons under investigation” for the coronavirus.

This year’s SXSW had been set to take place between March 13 and 22. The festival has grown into a global event where the world’s cultural elite rubs elbows and Silicon Valley types at panel sessions, post-screening talks, and numerous parties.

But in recent days, numerous entertainment and tech companies including Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon announced that they were pulling out of the festival and conference due to coronavirus fears.

Follow David Ng on Twitter @HeyItsDavidNg. Have a tip? Contact me at


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.