Mark your calendars:
- Tutorial days: Wednesday March 25 & Thursday March 26, 2009. (Two days of tutorials next year instead of one!)
- Conference days: Friday March 27 through Sunday March 29, 2009.
- Development sprints: Monday March 30 through Thursday April 2, 2009.
PyCon 2008 was far more popular than we originally planned for, and we nearly filled the venue, the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare hotel. We had hoped to have more tables ("classroom" layout) in the ballrooms, but we had to cut back and use mostly chairs ("theater" layout) in order to fit everyone in. One of the compromises we had to make was in catering. With so many people, the hotel was unable to provide proper sit-down hot meals, simply because the space was't sufficient for everybody to sit banquet-style. Once the conference days were over, there was no problem seating the sprinters (on the first day of the sprints, there were more sprinters and hangers-on than anticipated, so progress was slow, but this was corrected on the second sprint day).
While we don't anticipate another 77% increase in attendance next year, we do expect some increase, so we had to change our plans. Our meeting planners came up with two nearby options that allowed for growth, and we chose one.
PyCon 2009 will take place at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotel, which has much more meeting space than the Crowne Plaza: a larger main ballroom, and additional ballrooms (for a larger expo hall and a dining hall). There's room in the main ballroom for over 1500 people, all in classroom layout.
We still have a commitment to the Crowne Plaza for rooms and catering. You'll have a choice between the two hotels. Filling the rooms at the Crowne shouldn't be a problem, because they're the budget option ($109/night vs. $134/night at the Hyatt). We're hoping to take care of the catering obligation via a (hopefully sponsored) reception.
The Hyatt is near the Crowne, but closer to the El station, on the opposite side of the street. It's a short walk. Even if there's bad weather, people staying at the Crowne can access the Hyatt via the Skybridge: a pedestrian overpass that starts at the parking garage behind the Crowne, goes between two other hotels and through the conference center, and connects to the Hyatt.
Once again, we are outsourcing hotel reservations to our meeting planners, so please don't make reservations directly with either hotel. That's a ways off anyhow.
We'll have more announcements in the future. Watch this space!
We're currently discussing how the Program Committee will select talks for next year. Anybody who is interested in helping out with this or any other aspect of PyCon is welcome to join us!