Attending the Web Summit 2019 experience

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This year I was lucky enough to win a ticket from the open source ticket initiative and attend the Web Summit 2019 in Lisbon Portugal. Besides the conference being held in my favourite city, Web Summit is the biggest tech conference in the world and as a developer, I was so excited to be able to attend and I want to share my experience for those of you, who didn’t have the chance to participate yet.

If you haven’t heard of it, Web Summit is the biggest tech conference in the world with more than 70000 attendees, 11000+ CEOs, 1200+ speakers from 160+ countries in the world. It is a 4-day event that took place from 4-7 November 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. If you want to know more about the event you can visit the official site here and pre-register for 2020.


The excitement starts early since with so many attendees coming you can register and take your badge and wristband directly from the airport, and save some time from big registration queues. It is a huge event so the whole city is participating. You can find the Web Summit letters in several places around Lisbon and you can see stickers in the relevant bus and metro stops everywhere. So that’s what I did and after baggage claim, I headed straight to the registration site. It is easy to find but even if you miss it there are several volunteers always available to point you in the right direction.

Opening Night

With my badge ready I headed to Opening night. Queues had started forming early and even that I went straight to the entrance, it still took me one hour and 5 minutes to get in. There are several people that didn’t make it since after the opening had started nobody was allowed in. The security was really tight and there were several checkpoints where they would scan your badge and search your purse. Backpacks and trolleys were not allowed in. But the hour-long wait was worth it to hear Edward Snowden speak live on stage.

Days 2-4

The following days are a haze right now. It involved a lot of running between the Exhibitors and the Centre Stage, standing in a lot of queues and trying to make the most of this experience. It was definitely worth it though. I spoke to a lot of people, heard some wonderful ideas and the talks were incredible. The ones I loved most was seeing Sophia the social robot speak on stage with Phil and seeing the Boston Dynamics robot capabilities (yes, you got me, I love robots).

Night Summit

The Night summit was held in 3 different locations, one each night from the opening till the end.

  • Monday: Waterfront
  • Tuesday: Pink Street
  • Wednesday: LX Factory

It was a great opportunity for networking, blowing off some steam and getting to know the heart of Lisbon. Although I didn’t participate all nights it is a great way to see Lisbon at night, for those of you, who have never been there.

Preparing for 2020 – Tips and Tricks

For those of you attending next year, I have some tips from my experience to share with you.

  • Be on time. There is a lot of people coming in and out, and you cannot avoid the queues so be prepared to be there early.
  • Carry as little as possible. Having only a purse with me allowed me to pass security easily. If you can, avoid bringing big backpacks and laptops and familiarize yourself with what is allowed to carry and what is not. That will save you some time at the entrance. Trolleys are not allowed so if you are travelling right after the summit allow for some time to check them and out in in the Bad Drop area.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. I prefer flats and business casual so I am ready for every occasion. Because there is a lot of walking involved inside and out and there is some rain in Lisbon at that time of year remember to carry an umbrella
  • Pack some snacks. There are food trucks inside but I prefer to have some snacks with me and eat a late lunch in between session after the lunch break, or skip it entirely and have an early dinner afterwards. The venue does not allow food inside, but they did not take a couple of cereal bars and peanuts I had with me. That allowed me more time for the sessions and less time waiting in queues.
  • Connect. There is a lot of people and although the talks and workshops can be inspiring, you can hear very cool ideas and opinions and make new friends.
  • Adjust your expectations and prepare to miss things. There are so many things to do you cannot get to everything in time, even if you plan everything out, so enjoy everything the best you can. The event creates a lot of hype, but trying to do everything can get very overwhelming.

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