HOWTO Host A HacktionLab Gathering

From HacktionLab: A UK-wide network tech-activists providing meet-ups, events, workshops, national skillshare gatherings and hacklabs
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What a HacktionLab is

A HacktionLab is a combination of a Hacklab and an Unconference (aka barcamp) event where all attendees are part of the crew and are responsible for making it happen. Key points:

  • It is a hacklab: in that making the event happen, setting up, packing down, deciding the agenda, helping with food, facilitation, and entertainment are all part of the event.
  • Thus there is little to no clear line between organiser, speaker, and attendee.
  • It is an unconference: we gather workshop and talk proposals before the event, but then work out the schedule during the event itself in an organic way, juggling parallel sessions so that people are able to go to what they want.
  • We keep the cost as low as possible. No-one who is directly involved gets paid, but we do cover expenses (such as food prep), space hire, and contributions to any other facilities we need to use during the event.

How long should a HacktionLab be

The format we've found to work best is three days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Let's look at each of those three days:


11.00 - 14.00 (set-up) 14.00 - 18.00 (more set-up and then discussions) 19.00 - not too late (evening entertainment)

Friday is about getting into the space and setting things up, meeting each other, and where we can perhaps have one or two more informal discussions during the afternoon. Not everyone can make Friday all day, so lots of people may arrive Friday evening. It's important therefore to have a place to meet on the Friday evening: a local venue, bar, pub, the location of HacktionLab would all suffice.

On Friday also we can plan the schedule for Saturday morning.


09.00 - 18.00 (sessions) 19.00 - late (evening entertainment)

Saturday is the longest day and we suggest running talks and workshops in two or three difference spaces (rooms) during the entirety of the day. You can also have a single track, especially first thing in order to ease people into the event, allow people time to arrive and orientate themselves.

Suggest starting with a plenary first thing to welcome people.


10.30 - 11.30 (brunch) 12.00 - 17.00 (sessions) 17.00 - 18.00 (pack down and say goodbyes)

Starting a little later (being realistic about this) sometimes it's good to have a reflective session, perhaps looking into HacktionLab itself. Then sessions, and at some point a closing plenary, or at least some goodbyes. Everyone should be prepared to help with packing up and helping to go home.

When should it be?

We often hold a HacktionLab over the second weekend of June. Another time of the year is in November or December.

What spaces do we need?

What equipment in those spaces?

How about food?

What else?



  • Venue for event should have at least two rooms. Ideally with outdoor space in addition (if for a summer event).
  • Venues for the evening...
  • Food
  • Equipment
  • Promotion
  • Money