SXSW 2016
Obama in Austin

SXSW reveals surprise appearances by President Obama and the first lady

SXSW reveals surprise appearances by President Obama and first lady

Kids' State First Dinner July 2013 Michelle Obama President Barack Obama
For the first time in SXSW history, the sitting president and first lady will appear at the event. Essence Festival/Facebook

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Austin's biggest festival — and a first in SXSW history. On Wednesday, SXSW revealed that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will deliver keynote speeches at the 2016 event. It's the first time a sitting president has participated in the festival.

"I can't imagine a better way to celebrate our event's 30th year than to welcome both the president and first lady to SXSW," says festival co-founder Roland Swenson in a press release. "As each new generation comes up at SXSW they look for ways they can be of service, and it's important to reflect and support that message. President and Mrs. Obama's visit here will inspire attendees to that purpose."

President Obama's keynote will kick off the festival on Friday, March 11. Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, will lead the conversation on civic engagement. "The president will call on the audience to apply their ideas and talents to make technology work for us — especially when it comes to tackling big challenges like increasing participation in the political process and fighting climate change," reads a release. Questions for President Obama will be sourced from the Tribune's online audience.

Michelle Obama's keynote speech is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16. The first lady will discuss her Let Girls Learn initiative, a global mission to make education more accessible for young women.

President Obama's keynote event will be open to Interactive, Gold, and Platinum badge holders. The first lady's speech is open to those with Music, Film, Gold, and Platinum access.

The 30th anniversary of SXSW runs March 11 through 20.