The 45 Best Conferences to Attend This Year
Learning something new isn’t the only benefit to attending conferences. You get to hear inspiring keynotes from some of your industry heroes, network with equally passionate professionals, and position yourself as an expert in your field if you play your cards right. But, with all the options out there (and new ones being created each year), how do you decide which events are worth your time and money?
Easy answer! You let us do all the hard work for you. We did all the researching, the date-double-checking, and the cost-finding to put together this list of conferences. We don’t want to brag, but this roundup features the coolest speakers, events, and workshops you’ll hear about for the next 12 months.
In addition, they span across six continents and cover topics ranging from tech, marketing, and entrepreneurship to media, writing, and design. No matter where you live or what you do, there’s bound to be a perfect conference here for you. (Oh, and while some of them are relatively inexpensive, others are on the pricier end, so check to see if your company has a professional development budget you can tap into.)
Date: September 14-20, 2015 in Kansas City | October 12-18, 2015 in New York | November 9-15, 2015 in Los Angeles | December 7, 2015 in Miami
Techweek’s goal is to build a better world through tech entrepreneurship. The weeklong celebration of innovation includes events like a two-day conference featuring top speakers, an expo showcasing the newest products from both Fortune 500 companies and startups, and a music festival highlighting the intersection of music and technology.
Date: September 21-23, 2015
Location: San Francisco
One of the most anticipated technology conferences of the year, TechCrunch Disrupt brings together leading entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and developers for in-depth fireside chats, interviews, and product demos. Every afternoon, the Startup Battlefield competition is held and 30 selected companies pitch their products to expert judges for a chance to take home a $50,000 check and the coveted Disrupt Cup.
Date: October 5-7, 2015 in London | November 12-13, 2015 in Boston
Committed to making the web awesome, Future of Web Apps (#FOWA) is the three-day event designed for web and software developers. With a mixture of inspirational sessions and practical workshops, #FOWA’s goal is to have every participant leave the conference with the skills to succeed in this rapidly changing digital landscape.
Date: October 14-16, 2015
Price: $325-$950; Individuals and organizations with registration codes must register before September 18, 2015
The world’s largest technical conference for women in computing, Grace Hopper Celebration is committed to bringing the research and career interests of women technologists to the forefront. Last year, the conference hosted over 7,800 attendees from 65 countries, and more than 800 companies participated. GHC’s 2015 speakers include YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and President and Publisher of ForbesWoman, Moira Forbes.
Date: October 15-16, 2015
This two-day event showcases around 45 innovators who are changing the world and promoting disruptive thinking and radical ideas. Last year’s conference explored topics ranging from breakthrough technologies to emerging ideas about neuroscience. Plus, it included speakers like musician and entrepreneur will.i.am and genetics entrepreneur Anne Wojcicki.
Date: October 19-21, 2015
Location: Laguna Beach, California
Price: Invite-only, but you can request an invitation here
Hosted by The Wall Street Journal’s senior editors, WSJ.D is the global technology conference that explores the latest opportunities emerging around the world. The event brings together the powerful people transforming the digital landscape. Some examples? Dropbox’s co-founder and CEO Drew Houston, Sony’s President and CEO Kazuo Hirai, and Theranos’ founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes are just a few of the speakers presenting at this year’s WSJ.D.
7. Web Summit
Date: November 3-5, 2015
Location: Dublin, Ireland
With over 22,000 attendees from more than 100 countries, Web Summit is the largest technology conference in Europe (and it was created just four years ago). Participating companies have ranged from Fortune 500 ones like Google, Apple, and Microsoft to disruptive tech startups like Uber and Airbnb. In 2015, Web Summit’s speakers included Pixar Animation Studios’ President Ed Catmull, Instagram’s co-founder Mike Krieger, and Facebook’s CTO Mike Schroepfer.
Date: November 9-13, 2015
Location: New York
Want to hear from GOOP’s founder Gwyneth Paltrow, Tumblr’s founder David Karp, Nike’s CEO Mark Parker, and many more top-notch innovators all within five days? If so, grab a ticket to Fast Company’s Innovation Festival. Spanning over 60 locations across Manhattan, this event will showcase the most intriguing stories of creativity and leadership.
Date: November 18, 2015 in New York | May 26-27, 2015 in Amsterdam
Interested in meeting the world’s hottest entrepreneurs, watching 20 keynote talks, and seeing 100 early-stage startups pitch on stage? If you answered yes, then get your ticket to the third edition of The Next Web Conference USA. Previous speakers have included entrepreneurs like Eventbrite’s Julia Hartz and Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian, and this year you’ll hear presentations from tech executives like General Assembly’s co-founder Jake Schwartz and PayPal’s Senior Global Director John Lunn.
10. SXSW Interactive
Date: March 11-15, 2016
The 23rd annual SXSW Interactive Festival is returning to Austin. This event features five days of presentations from leaders in technology (think Product Hunt’s founder Ryan Hoover, Canva’s chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki, and the like), special programs showcasing new startup ideas and websites, and a range of exciting networking events.
Marketing and Sales
Date: September 8-11, 2015
Content Marketing World wants to inspire you to do your own epic content marketing and network with some of the brightest in the business. At this conference, you’ll have front row seats to over 80 sessions presented by leading brand marketers from around the world. You’ll hear from the directors of content marketing at brands like Marriott International, Adobe, and Blackberry.
Date: September 8-11, 2015
INBOUND by HubSpot features five inspiring keynotes, more than 170 educational sessions, and over 10,000 passionate marketing and sales professionals. You can expect to learn the newest marketing strategies from presenters like Nasty Gal’s founder Sophia Amoruso and BuzzFeed’s co-founder Jonah Peretti, and master content strategy and inbound marketing basics by attending pre-conference trainings.
Date: September 14-18, 2015 in London, Miami, Rotterdam, São Paulo | November 16-20, 2015 in Chicago, Mumbai, Santiago
Worldwide conference Social Media Week (#SMW) focuses on sharing how social media is changing businesses around the world. With an annual attendance of 5,000 speakers and 70,000 participants in 17 locations across six continents, #SMW is quickly becoming the world’s leading source of information regarding the future of human connectivity.
Date: October 4-6, 2015
Join the next generation of digital marketers at &THEN—the annual conference with fascinating keynotes, 175 hands-on workshops, and 250 solution providers. Apart from presenting speeches by tech leaders and respected authors, &THEN also features entrepreneurs who wouldn’t show up at your typical technology conference. 2015’s special speaker? Multi-award winning musician John Legend.
Date: October 13-14, 2015 in London | November 4-5, 2015 in New York | December 1-2, 2015 in Tokyo | March 10-11, 2016 in Australia | May 11-12, 2016 in Los Angeles
Held in 10 cities around the world, ad:tech is an exhibition where the marketing, technology, and media communities define new strategies that address key industry challenges. The events focus on providing top-notch education through keynote speakers, topic-driven panels, workshops, and showcases of the latest marketing products and services.
Date: October 18-20, 2015
At this two-day conference in Philadelphia, you’ll attend inspiring talks on multi-platform content strategy, conversion optimization, SEO, and more. You’ll be introduced to the latest industry trends and have the chance to connect with leading agencies, entrepreneurs, and digital strategists.
Date: October 18-20, 2015
Location: Tempe, Arizona
BOLO, or Be on the Lookout, gathers thought leaders and changemakers of the advertising and digital marketing agency world. You can either select the “3P Track” that focuses on recruiting quality talent and optimizing workplace creativity and productivity or the “Applied Strategy Track” that highlights methods for creating thought-provoking customer engagement campaigns.
Date: October 20-23, 2015
B2B Marketing Forum is the place where marketing trailblazers gather to learn about the latest in B2B marketing and share the secrets to their success. This year’s speakers include Google’s digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik, Copyblogger Media’s founder Brian Clark, and LinkedIn’s Senior Manager of Content Marketing and Social Media Jason Miller.
Date: October 28-29, 2015 in London | November 3-4, 2015 in Berlin | May 17-19, 2016 in Las Vegas
Are you passionate about converting more of your company’s website traffic into sales, leads, and increased revenue? If so, then Conversion Conference—the worldwide series focusing exclusively on website conversion rate optimization—could be the event for you. Conversion strategies presented in past conferences include website abandonment recovery, using triggers and targeting to create personalized messages, and cross-device optimization and testing.
Date: November 11-12, 2015
Over 3,000 marketers, brands, and agencies gather to celebrate, discover, and shape the future of marketing over two days at The Festival of Marketing. This isn’t your typical conference where you sit quietly and listen to speeches for hours. No, at this festival there are 12 stages covering different topics from customer experience to digital transformation, plus a presentation of The Masters of Marketing Awards.
21. Entrepreneur 360
Date: October 7, 2015
Location: New York
The Entrepreneur 360 conference is more than a day of exchange and education. It’s the start of an entrepreneurial movement, as speakers like will.i.am, Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian, and behavioral science expert James Clear present fresh ideas and new perspectives. The event is committed to leaving participants inspired and armed to take their businesses to the next level.
22. Inc. 5000
Date: October 21-23, 2015
If the thought of meeting entrepreneurs from America’s fastest-growing companies and hearing inspirational speakers share about how they’ve reached their superstar status excites you, then consider going to Inc. 5000. After three unforgettable days of conference and networking, you’ll attend the black-tie gala, followed by Inc.’s prestigious awards ceremony and dinner.
23. iCONIC Tour
Date: November 11, 2015
Location: Washington, DC
Presented by Inc. and CNBC, this three-part event series aims to bring together the country’s most dynamic businesses for a chance to network, overturn conventional thinking, and leave inspired. Speakers include entrepreneurs like Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal, Eventbrite’s Julia Hartz, and GrubHub’s Matt Maloney.
Date: November 16-19, 2015
Location: San Francisco
The Lean Startup Conference is a gathering for entrepreneurs, innovators, and thought leaders from across sectors and structures. The event unites attendees through powerful yet practical programming, including listening to world-renowned speakers, attending collaborative workshops, and engaging in interactive discussions.
Date: January 6-9, 2016
Location: Las Vegas
The International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is where you experience innovation. Held every year in Las Vegas, CES is the world’s hotspot for everyone who thrives on the business of consumer technologies. In 2015, over 170,000 attendees from around the world gathered amongst 2.2 million net square feet of exhibiting space and got the first look at 3,631 rising companies.
Date: February 23-24, 2016
Location: Silicon Valley
The largest independent startup community, Startup Grind is actively educating, inspiring, and connecting 215,000 founders across 185 cities. Like its other events, Startup Grind’s Global Conference aims to help entrepreneurs move their businesses forward, while making genuine connections with fellow entrepreneurs. Attended by industry leaders from tech companies like Apple and Google and venture capital firms like Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital, the conference features top-notch speakers like LinkedIn’s co-founder Reid Hoffman and Y Combinator’s founding partner Jessica Livingston.
Date: March 2-4, 2016
Hosted by Infusionsoft, ICON is where small business success happens. Register if you’d like to work with experts to develop your growth strategy, set goals, and implement the campaigns that will blow them away. Join over 4,000 entrepreneurs and attend more than 30 educational sessions and six inspiring keynotes.
Date: April 26-28, 2016
Location: New Orleans
What do Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, and Bono have in common? They’ve all attended the Collision conference. In just two years, Collision has grown to hosting over 7,500 attendees from more than 50 countries, and attracts CEOs of both the world’s fastest-growing startups and the world’s largest companies.
29. Big Omaha
Date: May 6-8, 2016
Founders, investors, and the nation’s most passionate members of the entrepreneurial community gather in Nebraska once a year at the Big Omaha conference. Apart from going to speaker presentations, participants attend themed happy hours (for instance, “Women in Tech Happy Hour” and “Developer and Tech Happy Hour”) to network with like-minded individuals.
Media, Publishing and Writing
Date: September 16-18, 2015
At the Digiday Publishing Summit, you’ll examine tried-and-true strategies with upcoming approaches to monetizing content across platforms, diving deeper into mobile and video, and the latest thinking around ad blockers. This is the place where legacy publishers and young media companies meet to exchange insights and find the balance of innovation and credibility.
Date: September 24-26, 2015
Location: Los Angeles
The Online News Association (ONA) conference is where highly engaged digital journalists who are shaping the future of media meet every year to learn about the new tools, techniques, and technologies in the industry. Attendees range from producers and content editors to programmers and newsroom decision-makers from major media markets.
Date: March 7-9, 2016
Location: New York
The Digital Book World Conference and Expo brings together media, publishing, and technology professionals from around the world. The event focuses on helping these professionals develop, build, and transform their organizations in order to compete in the constantly evolving digital media space. Strategies that attendees learn include marketing and distributing content to online readers, collecting and mining data to improve sales, and acquiring and developing new staff.
Date: March 10-13, 2016
Investigative Reporters and Editors’ (IRE) national conferences are chock-full of quality workshops, panels, and roundtables covering the latest developments in investigative journalism. The upcoming conference in Denver will be devoted to computer-assisted reporting, so definitely consider attending if you’d like to learn tools that’ll help you dig deeper into stories and give your audience the information they want.
Date: March 31-April 2, 2016
Location: Los Angeles
Each year, more than 12,000 writers, editors, publishers, teachers, and students gather at the AWP Conference—the largest literary conference in North America. In 2015, the event featured over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures. The annual book fair following the conference is the nation’s largest marketplace for independent literary presses and journals, creative writing programs, and literary arts organizations.
35. Confab Central
Date: May 18-20, 2016
Want to craft a content strategy that people can rally around, improve your editorial workflow, or make better use of a CMS? If you answered yes to one (or all) of the above questions, then Confab Central could be the conference for you. This event features content strategy’s top thinkers, doers, and teachers (think Facebook’s content strategist, Bird by Bird’s author Anne Lamott, and the like), and hosts attendees from companies like 20th Century Fox, Samsung, and Instagram.
Date: June 5-8, 2016
Location: San Diego
PePcon, or The Print and ePublishing Conference, is committed to helping designers and publishers understand the latest technologies, and navigate the ever-evolving choices involved in publishing to print, tablet, and desktop. The conference features top speakers including best-selling authors, world-renowned trainers, and consultants on the front lines of the industry.
Date: July 13-14, 2016
Location: New York
At the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, you’ll attend talks by executives from publications ranging from The Huffington Post and Vanity Fair to Mashable and Penguin Random House. Apart from joining more than 300 digital publishing leaders in attending industry expert presentations and interactive workshops, you’ll have over 25 hours of networking opportunities, and hear more than 40 case studies presented by Fortune 500 companies.
Date: September 17-18, 2015 in London | April 22, 2016 in New York
Hosted by net magazine—the world’s leading print and digital publication for web designers—Generate conferences are designed to help attendees sharpen their web design skills. After a successful inaugural event, and an even better 2014, the conference is ready to feature more quality content and practical advice from world-class speakers in 2015 and in 2016.
39. Midwest UX
Date: October 1-3, 2015
Midwest UX 2015’s programming is all about UX on the frontier. Besides hearing from speakers Jawbone’s Creative Director of New Products Dan Saffer, you can attend pre-conference workshops that teach you how tools like analytics, prototyping, and content strategy contribute to effective user experiences.
40. Cusp Conference
Date: October 7-8, 2015
Cusp is a conference about the design of everything. Over the two-day event, attendees enjoy over 25 thought-provoking presentations by seemingly unrelated presenters who are equally passionate about designing a better future. The conference’s audiences have included people from the worlds of graphic design, consumer electronics, filmmaking, medicine, public transportation, and many more.
Date: October 8-10, 2015
Location: New Orleans
If you’re interested in joining the design community to experience provocative speakers, local culture, professional development sessions, and face-to-face roundtables with your design heroes, then the AIGA Design Conference could be the place to be. At this conference, organized by the nation’s oldest and largest professional membership organization for design, you’ll be exposed to cutting-edge thinking and strategies that’ll help you stay at the forefront of the industry.
42. Forge Conference
Date: October 9, 2015
Forge Conference is the destination for makers. The event brings together speakers and practitioners from around the country in UX, design, development, and digital product management. Presenting at Forge 2015 are designers from companies like BuzzFeed, Uber, The New York Times, and Airbnb.
Date: November 12-13, 2015
Canada’s largest conference for visual communicators, DesignThinkers is a must-attend for creative, communications, and marketing professionals. This year’s event will delve into industry trends with visionaries from a range of fields like design, user experience, consumer engagement, and social media. You can expect to learn strategies for creating effective communications by exploring the latest technologies, demographic and ethnographic patterns, and much more.
44. HOW Design Live
Date: May 19-23, 2016
Does discovering new ideas, sources of inspiration, skills, and connections with fellow creative professionals sound exciting? If so, don’t miss out on HOW Design Live—the five-day event where you can get face-to-face with brand leaders, big thinkers, and design heroes in sessions both large and small.
45. IA Summit
Date: May 4-8, 2016
IA Summit is one of the world’s most prestigious gathering of information architects, user experience designers, content strategists, and all those who work to create and manage information spaces. This community-driven event is recognized globally as the best for information architecture learning and practical workshops on user experience.
What are your favorite conferences to attend? Let me know on Twitter!
A board member of Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs, Kat is either hosting inspiring founders or trekking across cities (Silicon Valley and London, anyone?) to discover the hottest startups. And, when she’s not putting together large-group gatherings for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Kat is planning food excursions to discover the best Taiwanese beef noodle soup in NYC. The only thing she loves almost as much as crafting content as an Editorial Intern at The Muse is studying content as an English Major at Columbia University. Say hi on Twitter @katxmoon.More from this Author