Hackathons/Handbook/Social events

For some, arguably the best part of hackathons. Certainly a very fun part! Social events contribute a big part to making an event memorable.

Pre-Event Social Events edit

It is nice to plan a social event the evening before the main hackathon starts. People will be arriving into town and will likely want to meet other participants. This is a good opportunity to have some type of event where people can mingle, have fun together, and meet each other.

Past examples:

  • Quiz night
  • Informal designated bar meeting spot
  • lobby of the hostel or hotel, if it is a nice place to spend time

For many people this will be a reunion, but for some people this will be their first experience with another country, a conference or Wikimedia EVER. Be welcoming and low-barrier but give people time and space to climatize.

Hackathon Social Events edit

Part of the value of hackathons are the informal discussions/introductions, the fun that is had, and the friendships that are built. Holding social events each evening allow people to more easily find something to do and spend time with other hackathon participants. Use your imagination and local knowledge to come up with new fun ideas.

Past examples of successful social events:

  • Renting arcade and video game equipment for night time at the event venue
  • Boat tour of Amsterdam canals
  • Dance parties (make sure to also provide space for people who don't want to dance to socialize)
    • selfie station with costumes to dress up and take your picture (Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 Vienna)
  • Renting out a restaurant/bar
  • Karaoke (make sure to also provide space for people who don't want to dance to socialize)
  • Nice dinner parties "Gala Dinners"


  • Keep the main hackathon space open in the evening (24 hours if possible) so that people who don't want to socialize or who want to continue to to hack have a quite place to go to get work done. If the hacking space can not be open 24 hours make sure that the hostel / hotel have good enough wifi that people can continue to work there.
  • If Hackathon social events are not organized many participants will leave the venue and go out into the city on their own or in small groups and end up not spending time building community and getting to know each other.
  • Make sure to include options, drinks and fun for people who do not drink alcohol.
  • Make sure that any offsite venue you choose will be able to cater to all your attendees. For example some bar-venues in the USA only allow people over the age of 21 to enter, but we almost always have hackathon participants under the age of 21.
  • The closer to the venue the social event, the higher percentage of participation. Ideally some of the social events should even be onsite.
  • Including an optional evening city or museum tour is often highly appreciated by attendees, they otherwise often sneak away on their own to do this if it is not formalized.
  • If alcohol is not provided (or available for sale) at social events, many participants will often leave to find it on their own. It is OK to include this in your social events but should not be the centralized theme.
  • Often if you get in touch with the city in the place you will be holding the event they will have good suggestions and sometimes even provide free or comped options for you because they want to support the tourism, non-profit & wikimedia movement that you are brining to their city. Example: WMCH was already providing event attendees with free Zurich public transportation passes for their Hackathon in 2014. They choose to do a lake tour social event on a public transportation ferry. This was free of any extra cost.

Take a Group Photo! edit

Make this an item in the actual program. Set aside about 30 mins for it. You will use this photo for lots of things. Blogs, fundraising, next years event page, social media sharing.

  • Consider an animated group GIF.