How to use the timeline

The timeline counts down to the first day of your event. It gives you visual indication of your progress. You may find it useful to have your own, editable copy, with actual dates in it.

The timeline is a guide. You will need to adapt it to your own needs. For example if you have decided to hold an event in six months’ time, you’ll need to compress the timeline substantially.

For each date in the timeline, don’t forget to move any item that can’t be checked off forward to the next day or week.

Twenty-four to eighteen months

Form a committee of organisers, and make your basic plans. You need to decide on:

Eighteen to twelve months

Depending on local legislation, you may need to form a registered organisation, register for VAT/IVA/sales tax, etc.

Turn your back-of-the-envelope budget calculations into something more carefully worked out.

Agree on dates and prices with the venues.

Twelve months

Agree on special conference pricing with some hotels. Get agreements about the number of rooms that will be reserved for your attendees.

Start collecting names and contact details of potential sponsors.

Eleven months

Buy Insurance.

Start working on the things you’ll need to have made decisions on before you go public:

  • precise Schedule
  • sponsorship pricing structure
  • graphic design and artwork

Eight months


If you’re planning to offer a crèche, or speech-to-text transcription, start discussing this with Things you will need to arrange providers.

Seven months

Go public. It’s a good idea to use an appropriate established domain (djangocon.eu, for example) for website and email, Twitter account, and so on.

Once you have a basic Website ready (a single page is enough at this stage, with information about the location and the dates), post messages on email lists, the Django weblog, Twitter etc. It’s worth mentioning that the conference will be governed by a Code of Conduct, even if at this stage mentioning it is all you do.

You need to start collecting sponsors. Some sponsors can be relied upon to sponsor every DjangoCon almost without questions, but they are few. Most will need to know full details of sponsorship terms and benefits.

You’ll need a proper sponsorship prospectus. It’s best to have it available both as a web page and as PDF.

Start contacting potential sponsors.

Make sure your venues have firm bookings for you. Start discussing catering arrangements with the venues.

Make sure that your arrangements with hotels are firmly in place.

Ask the DSF to establish a fund for financial assistance. Work out how many free tickets you can afford to offer.


Think about:

  • keynote talk slots (how many, potential speakers, how long)
  • timetables
  • length of available talk slots
  • tracks
  • workshops
  • sprints

Your programme of talks is a going to be at the heart of all this. Most other things are flexible and to some extent movable; the talks programme is much less so.

Six months

Publish a timeline of milestones on the website.

Open the call for proposals. If you haven’t already chosen or invited keynote speakers, consider submitted proposals for this too.

Open ticket sales - the point of no return.

Open the applications process for financial assistance.

Start announcing, and keep looking for, sponsors.

Five months

Branding, graphics and imagery

Start working in earnest on:

  • banners
  • t-shirt designs
  • stickers


Select your providers of:

  • crèche
  • AV services
  • filming
  • additional network services

and make your agreements.

Four months

Have all branding, graphics and imagery ready and finalised.


Discuss arrangements, including menus, in detail, with your caterers.

Three months

Stop accepting talk proposals and grant applications; start assessing them.

Start replying to the best proposals immediately. Make it clear that a proposal can only be accepted once the speaker has purchased a ticket (or has submitted a grant application).

Liaise with the grants committee to ensure that they know of any applicants you’d like to have as speakers. Make sure the grants committee understands your deadlines and the importance of making its decisions and informing people in a timeframe that works for the conference.

Visit the venues with service providers; even if you don’t, keep contact with them open.

Start compiling your conference programme booklet.

If you want to have music during breaks, start preparing your compilations.

Two months

Everyone should have been informed of the decisions of the proposals and grants committees; all speakers should have tickets.

Check again with service providers.

Publish your programme in full, or as full as possible, with a full timetable of talks, breaks, meals and so on.

Get quotes for printing expected quantities of:

  • t-shirts
  • programme booklets
  • signage
  • badges
  • lanyards

Visit the venue to find out exactly where the sponsors will have their tables, and ensure that there’s going to be enough room for them all. Start compiling a plan for the layout of sponsors’ tables.

Contact all your sponsors to remind them that they need to provide you with:

  • artwork for the booklet
  • any gifts they want included in the attendee pack

Let them know what size tables they will be provided with, what kind of banners they should bring, and so on.

Your programme booklet should be essentially complete, even if there are numerous sections that are still subject to change. Send it to your printers to ensure that you both understand each other’s requirements.

Similarly, send your proposed artwork to t-shirt, sign and other printers.

Start finding volunteers for the event.

One month

Your programme should be more or less finalised. You should be in a position to provide final numbers - or very nearly final numbers - for catering etc to your providers.

Keep updating the booklet.

Contact all your speakers to ensure that they know what to expect - what equipment they need to bring/interface with, what format the data projectors use.

Order your:

  • t-shirts
  • signage
  • badges
  • lanyards

Make sure you know when your printing deadline is. Usually one week is enough - but don’t assume anything.

Prepare a handbook for volunteers and session chairs.

Two weeks

Get other people to proofread the booklet.

Check again that all service providers are ready and have all the information, deposits and so on that they require.

Contact volunteers inviting them to attend a meeting.

One week

Confirm final numbers to the catering, crèche and other providers.

Meeting with volunteers.

Registration rehearsal - if possible, do this in the space and with the equipment where you’ll be doing it on the day.

One day

Bag packing with volunteers.

Open early registration - attendees at DjangoCons and PyCons love helping, and will probably be turning up to find out if they can help. Take the opportunity to register as many as you can; each one will be someone you don’t need to register tomorrow.

Try to get a good night’s sleep; you’ll be up early in the morning.