As event profs we’ve got a soft spot for a well-done conference that’s full of opportunities for inspiration, conversation, and maybe a few libations. But due to the sheer number of conferences held each year, it’s necessary to sift through the options and determine which offer the best value for you. To help you out, we’ve curated a list of top conferences here at home and beyond that should be on your radar in the first half of 2019.


The Special Event
January 8 – 10 in San Diego, California

Why you should go: This yearly conference is an industry must-do. You’ll be surrounded by inspiration, but you’ll also get down to the business of events, with over 100 education sessions on everything from creating your career or business path, to emergency planning, to navigating bar and bat mitzvahs – plus showcases, a large exhibition, and, of course, networking with other event profs.

New this year is a tour of some of San Diego’s best event venues (featuring food and beverage pairings), and The Event Experience, an immersive showcase of the latest in event trends.


January 21 – 22 in Edmonton, Alberta

Why you should go: GO WEST promises education, innovation, and networking, and we’ll vouch for all three. Keynote sessions and workshops will get you in front of industry thought-leaders and engaging with your peers, with diverse topics ranging from contracts to social media.

Set a reminder on your phone for the 1pm Main Stage session on January 22 – our own Dustin Westling, CSEP, is going to be serving up his thoughts on branding. Here’s a look at one of Dustin’s recent speaking topics.


CSE Live
March 26 – 27 in Toronto, Ontario

Why you should go: CSE Live is Canada’s only national conference exclusively for event professionals, and includes the Canadian Event Industry Awards Gala. CSE Live is designed to inspire new ideas and provide resources to enhance your work life, and feed your creativity.

Alongside the learning opportunities and awards gala, the CSE Live IMAGINARIUM is designed to bring the magazine to life with interactive experiences featuring cutting edge trends and technology.


IMEX Frankfurt
May 21 – 23 in Frankfurt, Germany

Why you should go: Make use of your passport, and head overseas to one of the largest conferences in the world for travel, meeting, and event professionals. Find 250+ educational and networking events, plus an exhibition that promises “all the suppliers you need for your events.”


Engage! Summit
2019 dates and locations TBD

Why you should go: If you want a dose of luxury with your conference agenda, attend an Engage! Summit, held at the world’s top resorts in stunning locations worldwide. Learn from the world’s top wedding and event professionals – and work on your tan in your downtime. The conferences promise to bring together industry thought leaders with event professionals, for collaboration, inspiration, and mutual benefit.



The Gathering
February 20 – 22 in Banff, Alberta

Why you should go: The Gathering celebrates “the world’s bravest brands,” with this year’s honour roll covering a diverse list of big names from the Los Angeles Lakers to The North Face to Porsche. You’ll get an inside look at major-league brands and the minds of branding experts, and The Gathering Music Festival happens immediately following the conference.


Incite Marketing Summit
May 30 – 31 in San Francisco, California

Why you should go: This conference digs deep into marketing with focus on personalization, content and storytelling, and marketing attribution, and they’ve recently added social media to the mix. Get fly-on-the-wall close to the boardrooms of some of the world’s biggest brands, with 50+ expert speakers from brands like Levi’s, ebay, and National Geographic.


Unbounce Call To Action Conference
June 25 – 26 in Vancouver, BC

Why you should go: This marketing conference is focused on digital marketing, and promises to cut out “recycled fluff,” giving you actionable, exciting content in its place. Some nice add-on perks include activities, after-parties and swag, and full conference notes and recordings available afterward.

Topics for 2019 include conversion optimization, email marketing, and content marketing in a “non-stuffy” and social environment.



iMEDIA Social Media Conference
March 8 -9 in Edmonton, Alberta

Why you should go: Organizers of this digital marketing conference promise real, practical learning in 20+ breakout sessions which are noted as the main draw for most attendees. This year’s keynote speaker is Sarah Feldman from Endy, and the full speaker list and breakout session topics aren’t fully finalized until just prior to the conference to ensure relevance – a concept that makes all too much sense to anyone working in social media.


March 19 – 22 in Salt Lake City, Utah

Why you should go: This conference is worth a second look for anyone who wants to step up their data game. The organizers, Domo, are creators of a data-driven business management platform designed to empower everyone from the CEO to the newest hire with the business intelligence to make smarter, more informed decisions. The conference offers hands-on advice and guidance at the Brilliance Bar, and insight from tech partners in the Partner Pavilion.

The whole thing caps off with two nights of concerts and a skiing day, so there’s that, too.


The Social Shake Up
May 6 – 8 in Atlanta, Georgia

Why you should go: This social media conference features speakers, panels, and platform-specific interactive sessions designed to help you take your social media strategy to the next level. Come away with new ideas for integrating social media into your overall business strategy, and a better understanding of current trends.  


June 12 – 14 in Calgary, Alberta

Why you should go: With their sold-out inaugural event in 2016, SocialWest hit the social media conference scene running. The exciting event has grown since then to include more speakers and experts, for an even more robust takeaway.

The conference offers customizable scheduling so that you get exactly what you need most out of each day, plus expert instruction and social media and digital insight for businesses of any size.


July 15 – 17 in Seattle, Washington

Why you should go: Speakers and workshops at MozCon are focused on forward-thinking and actionable learning in digital marketing must-haves like SEO, analytics, and social media and content marketing. In their words, “Exceptional speakers. Actionable tactics. Fist bumps for all.” …You can probably pass on the fist bumps if that’s not getting you there.



C2 Montréal
May 22 – 24 in Montréal, Quebec

Why you should go: C2 Montréal was imagined by Sid Lee, and Cirque du Soleil is a founding partner, resulting in an experience so unlike any other that we almost hesitate to call it a conference. The event “brings together commerce and creativity to explore trends, opportunities, disruptions, and major shifts on the horizon,” and promises to transform the way you do business. Having been and experienced this ourselves, we can’t say enough about how inspiring it really is – an overwhelming experience in all of the best possible ways.


Interior Design Show
January 17 – 20 in Toronto, Ontario

Why you should go: With annual shows on both sides of the country, the Interior Design Show is a platform for all things design, and showcases national and international concepts and products.

A large exhibition features products, installations, and innovations, and you’ll have the chance to hear from the design world’s most notable and talented design personalities.


June 10 – 12 in Chicago, Illinois

Why you should go: NeoCon is marking its 51st annual conference this year, and with that kind of pedigree, it’s no wonder that this event attracts upwards of 50,000 design professionals. Staying true to the original vision, the show is focused on showcasing changing commercial design and business trends.

You’ll find a large exhibition featuring 500 leading companies, nearly 100 educational programming opportunities, and countless moments of inspiration.   


All photos courtesy of conference websites as linked.