My Favorite Events & Activations at SXSW 2018

June 1, 2018








Luxury Travel Advisor & Founder of Passport To Friday. Follow along on my travels and let me help you plan your dream trip or honeymoon!

I'm Chelsea.

Oh SXSW, arguably my favorite week (okay, essentially 10 days) of the entire year. It’s so exciting to see our city of Austin taken over for a short period by innovators, start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, film enthusiasts, and music lovers. Even grabbing my morning Starbucks is a thrill, meeting new people who are in town and learning about different professions, cultures, and passions.

This year I attended SXSW on behalf of Austin Food Magazine with the intent to bring more travel-focused as well as women-focused content to light. Read on to find out more about my favorite events and activations from this year’s festival!

Bumble Presents: Empowering Connections (SXSW Official Event)

This two day event offered all of the #GirlBoss inspiration. With speakers like Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe and the fashion powerhouse Rachel Zoe, the audience was packed and the energy high. Bumble staff was on hand at the Bio Bar to help Bumble Date, BFF, and Biz Users craft the perfect bio, and a real-time “Elevator Pitch” booth for a chance to win a Dell computer. Feeling empowered after a day of great speakers and connections being made, the event ended each evening with live music performances including the grand finale with HAIM.

G’Day USA Australia House (SXSW Official Event)

The inaugural G’Day USA Australia House this year at SXSW was a hit, showcasing the very best of Australia here in the US!

I came to Australia House for nearly an entire day during SXSW, honestly in part because every session after another was so interesting I never wanted to leave! One of the hottest sessions I would personally say of all of SXSW was “How Social Entrepreneurs are Inspiring Change: A Conversation between Hugh Jackman and Hugh Evans“. I was lucky enough to be in the small crowd for this talk and loved hearing the story on how they started Laughing Man as well as inspiring social entrepreneurship in the community. Two other talks I loved were “Cocktail Catch up: Turn your Australian vacation into the career of your dreams, presented by Tourism Australia” (would love to go back a few years in my life and go work in Australia!) and “Conversation: ‘Watch this SPACE’” (amazing what Australia is doing in the aerospace industry!)

The culinary events did not disappoint either, featuring a week-long pop-up of Hugh Jackman’s Laughing Man Café as well a happy hour with chef Curtis Stone featuring Australian wine, cheese and charcuterie.

Casa Peru (SXSW Official Event)

Keeping the travel inspiration flowing, Casa Peru was another favorite activation of mine. Located on Rainey Street (almost directly across the street from Australia House!), Casa Peru showcased the beautiful Peruvian culture through Peruvian cuisine, arts & crafts, live music, Pisco Sours, and even appearances by alpacas.

Google Assistant Funhouse (SXSW Official Event)

The Google Assistant Funhouse was a fun surprise during SXSW for me, and one of the most intimate but amazing experiences I had. Google transformed a home on the East side of Austin into a home full of voice-activated commands ran by Google Assistant. It was pretty interesting to see how Google Assistant can do nearly anything for you, from pairing your food with specific wines to making your margaritas in a blender.

I attended the preview party on Friday, which also included a private acoustic performance by T-Pain and Cloves. It was incredible to say the least!

Fort Worth Now (SXSW Official Event)

Sponsored by Visit Fort Worth, Fort Worth Now was a great mix of educational and good ol’ Texan fun. A celebration of Fort Worth, there was a tasting of the science behind whiskey, a Lockheed’s F-35 cockpit demonstrator, and of course breakfast tacos and BBQ!

My favorite session was “How Apps are Shaping the Future of Travel” with Lee Abbamonte, Annie Fitzsimmons, Jonathan Simpson, and Mitch Whitten. I learned of some great apps I had never heard of which I have already implemented into my travel routine!

Fast Company Grill (SXSW Official Event)

Always one of my FAVORITE events of SXSW, Fast Company Grill offered more fun surprises this year like this pop-up with L’Oréal & Skinceuticals. I received my Custom Skinceuticals D.O.S.E. through new innovative technology that was unveiled here! D.O.S.E is a brand new state-of-the-art device engineered to evaluate your personal skin needs to create a custom-made serum. As always with Fast Company Grill there were great speakers (hello, Dan Rathers!), as well as great food and Mexican Martinis from Cedar Door.

Social Aviation: A Better Way to Fly (SXSW Official Session)

I actually have a client who uses Jetsmarter, so when I saw that the CEO was speaking at SXSW I knew I needed to attend to hear more about this company. Jetsmarter is disrupting the private aviation industry by providing an almost ride-sharing approach to private aviation. Members can essentially “hop” onto already scheduled jets for an extremely discounted price. It’s a very interesting concept, and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes.

The Power Plant by Vega (SXSW Official Event)

Vega is my favorite protein, so I was very excited when I found out that they would be having an activation at SXSW this year! On Friday night they had a vegan BBQ at Clive Bar – great plant-based food, amazing craft cocktails, and all of the protein powder… what could be better!

#SmokeAndDenim with PAIGE & Infatuation

I attended this event last year and was SO excited for it this year. It did not disappoint! The #SmokeAndDenim party took place at Jacoby’s this year, which meant incredible “ranch-to-table” cuisine and with sponsors like Don Julio, how could you not have a good time?! Live music rounded out the evening as well as personalized embroidered PAIGE jean jackets.

The Kefir Cookbook Brunch with Lifeway Foods & Julie Smolyansky

SXSW can take a lot out of you, so it was nice to escape for a wellness brunch with Julie Smolyansky, author of The Kefir Cookbook and CEO of Lifeway Foods. The menu was focused on recipes from the cookbook, and the conversation was raw and real. Additionally, there was a braid bar, complimentary morning yoga, Lifeway Elixir cocktails, and more!

KREWE Sunglasses Pop-Up

Okay, so this may not be an event but I stopped in the adorable pop-up on South Congress for KREWE and fell in love. My new favorite sunglasses!

Create + Cultivate

It’s been crazy to see how Create + Cultivate has evolved since I attended one their first ones in Dallas a few years back. This was their second time doing a pop-up at SXSW, and ironically it was at my office! The line was crazy and hit full capacity within minutes of opening, but they always have the best speakers (hello Camilla Alves, Brooklyn Decker, Camille Styles, Mary of Happily Grey, and so many more!) 


Safe travels y’all!

Chelsea Rose Martin


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Hi, I'm Chelsea Martin, Luxury Travel Advisor & Founder of Passport To Friday. I've been planning bespoke luxury vacations and honeymoons for almost a decade now. I can't wait to help you plan the trip of a lifetime! 

A true Cancer, hotel-slipper-obsessed gal whose IG Explore page is full of dogs.



California bred, NYC based, always en route
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