Django Weekend 2014 in Cardiff

By now Django Weekend 2014 has been over for more than a week … but now I finally found the time to also write about it! For those who don’t know, Django Weekend was a one-track conference that happened between 7th and 9th of February in Cardiff, Wales, UK. All that plus it was awesome!

Cardiff University

Personally, I’m a huge fan of one-track conferences. They keep everyone extemely focused and you don’t “miss” anything. Usually this kind of conference also has a very strictly limited number of attendees which helps making the event feel like an extended family gathering (which is something I always feel when attending a Python conference for some reason).

The conference took place at Cardiff University and the talks were presents in an auditorium of the Chemistry Department. Very classy! There were also quite a few students in attendance, for some it was even their very first Python event. Thanks to the location there was also no real problem with any kind of infrastructure (perhaps with the exception of the heating on the sprint day ;-)). In most public buildings that have to deal with tons of students on a day-to-day basis things like Wifi simply usually work compared to conference hotels. Perhaps some kind of law of nature …

Usually, Universities also have their own lunch/dinning facilities, so catering becomes easier or at least offers you the choice of being local. That being said, I kind of see now why Jamie Oliver “happened” in the UK. Tasty meals at the canteen but probably quite far removed from anything healthy :-)

The talks

What surprised me a little bit was that, despite the name, only about half of the talks were primarily about Django. The focus was definitely more on Python in general with Django just being one tool out of many you should use. The balance here was really nice with talks about various libraries used in astronomy to general tips for creating APIs with Django.

As always, my personal highlight were the lightning talks. Sadly, I couldn’t find a list of all of them, but perhaps someone took enough notes to reconstruct them :-)

These were only the talks that took place on Saturday. On Friday the organizers had prepared an “Open Day” where anyone could present their talks with or without having a ticket for the “main event”. Sadly, that was also the day I only arrived in the afternoon and so I opted for visiting Cardiff Bay instead…

Side events

… which had been another big motivator to visit Cardiff. Over the year’s I had seen enough Doctor Who and Torchwood to want to see some of the buildings there myself. The organizers even listed the Doctor Who: Experience as one of the things you perhaps should see while visting.

So after a trip of about 20 hours (without any signifant amount of sleep for + 10 hours of the usual workday before that) from Graz via Vienna and London to Cardiff and just taking a quick shower at the extremely nice Maldron Hotel in the heart of the city I walked down to Cardiff Bay to see “The Doctor” (probably more on that in another post). Just so much: Cardiff Bay is just beautiful! It might have been worth the visit on its own.

With that achievement unlocked and about an hour of sleep at the Hotel I made my way to the first conference side-event: A dinner at “The Clink”, a restaurant that trains offenders from HM Prison Cardiff (which is right next to it). Really a nice place with good food. Just don’t forget that they don’t serve any alcohol (as I did in my half-comatouse state).

Dinner on Saturday (the actualy conference day) was served at the “Vegetarian Food Studio”, a small Indian restaurant to the south west of the central train station. Again, great food and great place in general. Alcoholic beverages are not served here, either, but there was a small store where you could buy beer or cider and the restaurant owners didn’t mind people bringing their own drinks.

Dinner at "Zero Degree" to close the conference

After the sprints on Sunday we went to the “Zero Degrees” which had a nice Pizza and its own microbrewery to offer. It’s weird how much even Wheat Beer tastes like Ale in the UK ;-)

The sprints

As mentionned before there were also sprints that took place in another festive looking room of the university. We countered the extreme weather conditions on the outside (storm warnings … and actual storms the whole weekend) with some nice coding and great conversations.

Sprinting at Django Weekend in Cardiff


A big “THANK YOU” to the organizers and I’m absolutely looking forward to what Daniele Procida & friends will prepare next year!