SXSW will not be refunding tickets following coronavirus cancellation

Organisers are looking into rescheduling the event later this year

After SXSW announced that they would be cancelling the festival for the first time in 34 years, it appears that fans who bought tickets will not be getting a refund.

The 2020 edition was officially cancelled by the city of Austin last Friday (March 6). “We are devastated to share this news with you,” they wrote in a statement posted on their website.

However, SXSW maintains a strict no-refunds policy which it seems to be upholding, particularly as the policy does reference “illness” and “acts of God”.


“SXSW may, in its sole discretion and at any time determined by SXSW,” the policy reads. “Cancel, revoke, or refuse from any individual or company the following: Credentials, purchases, and/or hotel reservations made through SXSW. SXSW will not be responsible for any penalty, fee, loss, or expense that might result from such action.

“SXSW does not issue refunds under any circumstances. Any and all payments made to SXSW are not refundable for any reason, including, without limitation, failure to use Credentials due to illness, acts of God, travel-related problems, acts of terrorism, loss of employment and/or duplicate purchases.”

SXSW 2019. CREDIT: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

In an email sent to ticketholders, later shared on Reddit, organisers said they were looking into rescheduling the event later this year “along with some online conference experiences and networking opportunities.”

Ticket-holders could even face a $50 fee, and potentially an additional penalty charge – according to the festival’s website, fans who cancel their hotel reservation, or decrease the length of stay, within 28 days of the start of the reservation could incur the extra costs. The festival has not commented on whether this will still apply in light of the extraordinary circumstances.

“We have a lot of insurance (terrorism, injury, property destruction, weather),” SXSW co-founder Roland Swenson explained to The Austin Chronicle. “However, bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses and pandemics are not covered.”


Earlier today (March 10) it was reported that SXSW has also been forced to lay off a considerable number of employees following the cancellation.

According to the Austin Statesman, the festival’s parent company SXSW LLC has laid off a third of its 175 full-time employees.

In a statement to the Statesman, the company said they had been “rigorously reviewing our operations,” and now faced “the unimaginable position of reducing our workforce”.

They added: “We are planning for the future and this was a necessary, but heartbreaking, step.”

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