The real SXSW

Free food, "homeless hotspots" and long lines: here's what a trip to the annual media and technology festival is actually like.

Prepare to wait
Prepare to wait

More than 24,500 attendees registered for SXSW this year, a 27% increase from last year -- and it showed. Huge crowds were the norm, cabs impossible to come by. Attendees waited more than an hour-and-a-half the first day to pick up their badges in a line that snaked around the Austin Convention Center's entire first floor.

By JP Mangalindan, writer-reporter @FortuneMagazine - Last updated March 16 2012: 4:43 PM ET
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5 things that mattered at SXSW

Couldn't make it to this year's new media pow-wow? Here's everything you need to know in 500 words or less.