HBO’s megahit lured its mega-fans to Austin, Texas, to test out their sword skills, a la Arya Stark, at the show’s virtual art installation at the Interactive Festival, aptly named “SXSWesteros.”
The activation brought in thousands of enthusiasts over the weekend, resulting in a line wrapped around the block in downtown Austin. The line to get into #SXSWesteros was so long on Saturday, it had to be cut an hour and half early to ensure everyone waiting would get inside to sword train, take a seat — and photo — in the iron throne and take a sip of “GOT’s” newest beer, Three-Eyed Raven ale, which will be available nationwide on April 1.
A group in line told Variety the “Game of Thrones” installation was the main reason they came to SXSW. Another superfan arrived to the popular site in full Daenerys garb, complete with her own miniature dragon, giving a nod to ComicCon cosplay.
Over in White Pine Bay, Bates Motel was open for business.
Also set up in downtown Austin, the activation promoting A&E’s thriller, now in its third season, is a full-functioning hotel with guests occupying three rooms from March 13-21. Each day, a sweepstakes takes place in the “motel” office, giving festgoers a chance to enter the contest to stay over one night.
The motel, which was built in three days, enlisted the series’ set designers to create an exact replica on site (pictured).
“SXSW was the perfect place for us to invite fans inside the story of Norma and Norman Bates in a unique and unforgettable way,” Elizabeth Luciano, vice president of marketing at A&E, told Variety, adding that the attraction has been bringing in thousands of people each day. “Last year at SXSW, we saw amazing fan interaction, so this year we upped the ante, giving fans an even deeper experience that’s as true to the real Bates Motel as possible.”
The office (pictures above) featured a photo of Norma (Vera Farmiga) and Norman (Freddie Highmore), and inside the rooms, the walls were decorated with fan art, made by the show’s superfans.
Also in the rooms was fake blood splatter in the shower, Norma’s robe on the bed and welcome baskets for the guests, filled with goodies from local businesses, startups and tech companies, in the spirit of SXSW. Among those items? White Pine Bay’s finest “special brownies.”