DjangoCon Europe 2023 : a review
Foxley Talent were Gold level sponsors of DjangoCon Europe in Edinburgh at the end of May 2023. We had previously attended the 2022 edition in Porto and totally got the bug for attending these brilliant events.
Personally, I had previously attended DjangoDay in Copenhagen (their next event is on 6th October) and a PyCon UK. Both were great experiences but attending DjangoCon is one of the highlights of my year. We’ve already signed up to go to North Carolina in October for DjangoCon US!
Our week started with an early morning flight from Southampton Airport. On arrival in Edinburgh, we made our way into the City and met a few Django people for lunch in TGI Friday whilst waiting for our AirBnB to be available.
We dropped off our bags and went to the supermarket to get our supplies for the week. On returning to the flat, we had a disaster. We were locked out. The hosts were in the US and with no spare key available a locksmith was called to replace the jammed locks (a problem prior to our arrival) and let us in. We unpacked, ate, watched some sport and got ready for the evening’s pre-conference event.
Django.Social is our easy to run meetup, currently with active groups in London, Cambridge, Bristol and a few still waiting for their first event in Manchester, Berlin and New York (if you want to help out with one of these or start a group in your own city, please feel free to get in touch). We had the idea of bringing the three active groups and the wider DjangoCon Europe attendees together the night before the conference started to meet, socialise, and get to know some new faces. We had booked a table at Brewdog in the city centre and people arrived through the night.
It was a brilliant, fun evening. Meeting and catching up with friends from within the Django community and meeting new people. With an early start for the conference in the morning we made the sensible decision to go back to our flat rather than finding a night club to carry on the party with a few overexcited Django developers.
Monday morning came, the first day of the conference. Early alarms went off (Josh’s earlier than the rest as he was meeting some other conference attendees for a morning run around Edinburgh Castle) and after a quick breakfast in the flat. Our taxi arrived and we set off to the venue. The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh are stunning! We were directed to our area in the ballroom to set up the Foxley Talent stand. We had time to set up our backdrop and lay some stickers, t-shirts and drink bottles out before the first attendees started arriving.
The first hour or so before the opening talks was amazing, saying hi to some of the people we had met the night before. Catching up with more old friends and even meeting people I’ve known (virtually) for 10+ years for the first time in person. I even got the chance to meet Will Vincent properly after recording an episode of the DjangoChat Podcast earlier this year. We spoke not about Django but about golf and have arranged to play in the US later this year around the dates of DjangoCon US.
Mark Smith welcomed everyone to Edinburgh with his opening words and officially started the conference with mentions given to the organising committee and event sponsors. The talks began with a Keynote address from Tobias Kunze. There were 8 talks and 3 workshops in all on the first day with Lightning Talks to finish. All of these are now available to watch back online.
We manned our stand throughout the first day meeting lots more people. Often speaking about career development, timing a career change, how working with a recruiter actually works and much more. Lunch and the coffee breaks were held in the Ballroom too so we had a flow of interesting people to speak to during these breaks.
After day one, there was time to grab a quick pint before heading back to our accommodation, making dinner and showering before heading out to the Social Event. The venue at The Caves in Edinburgh was truly unique. There were multiple rooms, on multiple levels with bars, tables, board games, and all sorts of seating arrangements. A live band played most of the night and finished with a rousing “I’m gonna be 500 miles” - a Scottish anthem! We mingled and chatted to people, played a bit of giant jenga and giant connect four. The event was packed but with the various spaces available it was easy to chat too.
At the end of the party, we made another good decision to head home, followed by a poor decision to stay up in the flat chatting until the early hours. Still, the alarms went off in the morning, a cooked breakfast was made and we got to the conference as the doors opened.
Day two was just as fun. One of my favourite bits of the morning was saying hi to the people we had met at the party, and discussing the schedule for the day. I was particularly looking forward to Dawn Wages’ Keynote along with the Django Software Foundation workshop. Unfortunately this clashed with Paolo Melchiorre’s talk All about djangoproject.com - I was planning to watch this back but he is delivering the talk again at DjangoCon US in October.
There were 10 talks (plus lightning talks) on the day along with three workshops. Videos from all the talks are available online here.
During day two we were slightly quieter on the stand but still had lots of good conversations. We had several people come back to us who we had met on day one to introduce us to their friends or colleagues. We were able to actually introduce a junior developer to a CTO that had mentioned the day before they were looking for someone to join them. No charge, just connecting nice people who wouldn’t have otherwise spoken.
At the end of day 2 we met with some friends made in Porto, who brought a few new people along too and had some beers and dinner at a street food venue in the City. Followed by another few pubs, a couple of games of pool, cocktails and an unnecessary takeaway. Not going to judge our decision making here but made it back to the flat for a few hours sleep before starting all over again.
Day three for Josh kicked off with another run around the city. Liam and I had breakfast and made our way to the conference for the start, Josh joined us later. Our first talk was to see Andrew Aikman deliver his session on Green Coding, he had previously delivered this at one of our London Python meetups to get some practice. A great talk and he even gave us a shoutout at the end. I would recommend this talk to anyone wondering how they can be a little more conscious of the environment whilst working.
I also checked out the working session on Wagtail by Thibaud and Sage from Torchbox. This site is built with Wagtail so I thought I should learn a bit more (most of it went over my head though) as I had the chance.
We were much quieter on the last day at the stand so I was also able to make it to Ester Beltrami’s talk about Gender Bias in Tech. Again, well worth watching back if you were not there.
8 talks and 3 workshops later we were at the last set of lightning talks. DjangoCon Europe 2024 was announced. It will be in Vigo, the first time DjangoCon Europe has been held in Spain. Can it be May 2024 already please?
The closing session was followed by the conference photo. This is a brilliant tradition.
We had to pack away all our things, along with swag exchanges from the other sponsors. I had dinner with a couple of people I’d not had the chance to really chat to over the week before heading to the organisers and sponsors post conference party. The later it got, the more people arrived and in the end the night felt very similar to our first evening in Edinburgh. I had the chance to chat again with some great people within the Django Community and say our goodbyes, see you next times and good lucks for the new projects before heading into the night.
Quite a few people were staying on for the Sprints held for two days but being school holidays in England and all three of us having young children we were heading home.
As it was the last night of the trip, we decided to sample a few more of Edinburgh’s bars and make the most of the 11am checkout from the AirBnb. Que banging on the front door at 8am with a delivery of a new washing machine for the hosts, followed by a quick apology text message. I made the most of the unexpected early start and did all our washing up, tidied the flat and got ready to leave. We stopped in the City on our way to the airport for a Scottish Breakfast (highly recommended BTW) before learning of a 2 hour delay. I watched a film to pass the time and edited a highlights reel on Instagram.
Finally made it back home after a truly amazing week. One final task was left, confirm and pay our sponsorship for DjangoCon US. The countdown is on.
I can’t wait!