WordCamp Denver begins Friday this week and tickets are free for anyone who wants to join June 26-27. The event has been running since 2012, but like many other conferences, it is going virtual in 2020, as the pandemic continues to worsen around the globe. Attendees will have to forego the city’s extraordinary landscapes, friendly summer climate, and legendary beer scene this year, but organizers are adapting to make it a memorable event.

In previous years WordCamp Denver has attracted roughly 300 in-person attendees. Sponsor Wrangler and co-organizer Maddy Osman reports that this year the event has 1,696 people signed up and could reach 2,000 by the weekend.

“There were so many challenges that came with flipping to a virtual event — the biggest one being that the WordPress community loves to be physically together and COVID-19 shutdowns have obviously prevented that in a big way, starting with WordCamp Asia,” Osman said.

“Another big challenge for us was preserving a Colorado feel while opening the event up to people across the world. But we have quite a few surprises planned that feature local individuals and brands that I’m excited to share with attendees.” 

Osman said that although the team didn’t sell as many sponsorships as last year, they had no problem attracting the necessary sponsors to make the event happen. WordCamp Central covers the livestreaming costs, which was the most expensive ticket item for hosting the event virtually.

Sponsors will still have the opportunity to connect with attendees and offer their own unique digital swag. Organizers are planning on doing a password-protected swag bag with exclusive offers for WordCamp Denver attendees.

“Even though we can’t hand out fun swag, this is the next best way to make win-win connections between attendees and sponsors,” Osman said. “Attendees who have signed up for a free ticket will be emailed access instructions prior to the event.”

The WordCamp will kick off on Friday with a yoga session hosted by Denver yogi Lauren Moon of Yogiful who will help participants leave behind the stress of the work week. The schedule features three tracks that will run simultaneously: Beginner, Marketing/Content, and Power User/Developer.  Topics span the whole range of WordPress user experiences, from client relationships to creating blocks and understanding React.js.

“We have speakers from all over the US (and some international) but we prioritized speakers with diverse backgrounds and speakers who represent the local community,” Osman said.

“We tried to prioritize sessions that were super actionable and relevant to the current situation that so many businesses are facing – adapting to the COVID-19 economy. In general, when going through speaker selection, we always try to dig deeper than the surface to provide topics that people wouldn’t necessarily find elsewhere.”

The schedule for Saturday morning includes a unique session called “Brew the Perfect Cup of Coffee,” hosted by Fort Collins-based WordPress community members, David Hayes and Ann Pohl. They will discuss bean selection, grind methods, and alternatives to brewing, with a live demonstration. They will also be sharing a surprise offer from local sponsors, where attendees can redeem a free cup of coffee from one of three coffee shops in Boulder, Denver, and Fort Collins. Those attending from further away can redeem a coupon code for $10 off a bag of beans from Harbinger Coffee.

Registration for tickets to WordCamp Denver is still open. The event runs Friday (3-7pm) and Saturday (9am-1pm), June 26-27. It will be hosted on Zoom with live captioning managed by White Coat Captioning.