Apr 16, 2024 - News

School spring breaks, SXSW misaligned

A crowd cheers Jack Antonoff as he performs at SXSW.

A crowd cheers Jack Antonoff as he performs at SXSW in 2019, the last time the fest wasn't synced with spring break. Photo: Jim Bennett/WireImage

Austin could feel a lot more crowded next March.

South by Southwest and spring break for area schools have been scheduled for different weeks, the first time since 2019 that there's been a misalignment.

Why it matters: Historically, the two have coincided, leaving the city less crowded as thousands of SXSW attendees pour into Austin. Plus, SXSW relies on student volunteers to support nine days of programming.

State of play: SXSW officials announced at the close of this year's event that the 2025 conference and festivals will be held March 7-15 next year while spring break for Austin ISD, Austin Community College, St. Edward's University and the University of Texas will fall a week later on March 17-21.

The latest: SXSW officials indicated that talks with local schools are ongoing.

  • "SXSW chooses its dates many years in advance and contracts with many vendors up to three years in advance. We are still discussing with outside partners and stakeholders, including the schools, on 2025 date alignment," an SXSW spokesperson tells Axios in an email.
  • SXSW officials are already selling badges for March 7-15.

Yes, but: "ACC has no plans to change its spring break in 2025," Austin Community College spokesperson Sydney Pruitt said. "The college selects the dates for multiple reasons. It falls directly in the middle of the spring semester."

  • Pruitt pointed to the college's alignment with AISD for dual credit students, and "moving spring break would cause a disturbance during one session and does not support engagement with a course or effective learning."

Behind the scenes: UT recommended aligning with area school districts and ACC because of the number of students who need their spring break to fall in line with other schools, according to Renee' Acosta, the chair of UT's Calendar Committee.

  • "If we're misaligned with the area school districts, that presents a problem for those students," Acosta said, pointing to students in the College of Education and the School of Social Work who spend time in local school districts as part of their degree.

Of note: The UT committee makes recommendations to the Faculty Council for final approval.

  • "We absolutely are in contact with all of the Austin-area school districts," Acosta tells Axios. "We do reach out to South by as well."
  • UT's 2024-2025 academic calendar was approved in fall 2023, according to Acosta.
  • The AISD school board approved the district calendar in December.

Flashback: UT and SXSW played the blame game when SXSW and school spring breaks were misaligned in 2019.

  • Festival organizers said the dates originally lined up but UT and AISD deviated from the plan.
  • UT officials noted that they publish the calendar about a year before the start of an academic year to give stakeholders time to plan.

What we're watching: Who folds first — schools or SXSW — as we get closer to a busy month for crowds and traffic.


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