Top 10 Things to Know Before You Go @ VMware Explore Barcelona 2023

VMware VMware Explore

Published on 18 October 2023 by Christopher Lewis. Words: 1563. Reading Time: 8 mins.

With just under three weeks to go before VMware Explore comes to Barcelona, I thought it was about time I shared some of my top tips for attending any technology conference (with an obvious focus on VMware Explore Barcelona)!

Top 10 Things to Know for VMware Explore Barcelona

#1 - Register On Sunday

But wait… the conference doesn’t officially start until Tuesday 7th November right? No. The first key note is on Tuesday, but registration starts on Sunday 5th November at 15:00 (CET). If you register on Sunday you are more likely (but not guaranteed) to ensure you get your merchandise at registration. There have been a number of years where the coveted VMware Explore backpack has quickly run out of stock. So fair warning!

If you cannot register on Sunday, make sure you register on Monday! The conference is open from 0830-19:00 CET and so there is plenty of time to register. If you leave registration until Tuesday, not only will the queues be a nightmare, you probably will not get all of your free merchandise and you may miss the key note!

Advice: I would personally try to register on Sunday or early Monday morning to avoid any disappointment!

#2 - Leave Your VMware Explore Backpack At The Hotel

I want to preface this tip with the fact that Barcelona is one of my favourite cities with the combination of architecture and local culture. I have been there on holiday and through the conference over 10 times. I have always felt safe walking the streets around the city center but not everyone has been so lucky. Just like every other major city, Barcelona is not without it’s problems.

Therefore, whilst you should be proud of your shiny new VMware Explore Backpack and may want to wear it every day you are there, you may as well just tell everyone you meet in the street that:

  1. You are a foreigner (if wearing shorts in November when all the locals are in jeans and jumpers isn’t a clue already).
  2. You are attending a tech conference and therefore are probably carrying a laptop or tablet.

Advice: I’m sure the marketing team will not thank me for this, but I would personally leave the VMware Explore backpack in the hotel.

#3 - Wear Comfortable Shoes

I can already hear people saying “But I bought these shoes especially for the conference…” or “These are my new shoes and they are comfortable!”. You need to have a hard think and ask yourself “Are these shoes 20K+ steps a day comfortable?” because that is how many steps I personally did at VMware Explore Barcelona 2022 without stepping outside of the Hands On Labs area. If the answer is no, then it is not too late to get some new shoes and wear them in before the conference!

Advice: I would personally wear shoes that you have had for a while. Expect to do at least 20K steps a day. If you need to buy new shoes, do it now and wear them around the house for a few hours a day until you leave for the conference or buy bulk blister plasters!

#4 - Pace Yourself (in Sessions)

Any person new to a technology conference (especially one being paid for by their employer) typically feels obligated to completely fill up their agenda with session after session. I know because I did this the first time I went to VMware Explore (and made the same mistake again with my first time at KubeCon in 2022). Whilst I cannot stop you from doing this, there is a few key points to remember:

  1. Breakout rooms may not all be in the same location.
  2. You may only have 15 minutes to get from current location to the next (via a bathroom and/or refreshment break).
  3. Sessions are mentally fatiguing as you can only take on so much information.
  4. The majority of sessions are recorded and are available online afterwards.
  5. You will bump into people you haven’t seen in at least 1 year and it can be good to catchup!

Advice: I would personally aim for 3-4 session a day at most and try and enjoy the experience! If there is something you have missed and want to catchup on, get the recording after the event.

#5 - Queue For Victory

It can be more than a little disappointing when, after you’ve registered for VMware Explore, you browse the agenda for sessions and some (or all) of the ones you’re interested in are full. Fear not, if you REALLY REALLY want to goto a session but it’s full in the agenda, turn up early to the room and stand in the wait line and you may just get into that important session!

#6 - Pace Yourself (Parties)

Now without trying to sound like I’m 90 (because i’m not), but I’m definitely not as young as I used to be! Therefore, apart from the VMware parties (inc regional parties and vExpert party), I don’t really go to many vendor parties during the event. I prefer to have a nice dinner with colleagues and friends who are out in Barcelona because I don’t get to see very often. I am also working all-day, every day within the VMware Hands-on-Lab section, so admittedly my situation is different to the typical conference attendee. But for me, a good nights rest is essential!

But that all said, if you want to know all about the parties, then my man Fred has you covered… check out the list for this year at

Advice: You do you, but if it were me, I would aim for quality not quantity every time! Maybe party to 4AM every other night rather than every night!

#7 - Going With Colleagues? Work smarter not harder

If you are attending with more than one other colleague from your employer, I see little point going to all of the same sessions. Typically, but not always, employers will expect attendees to disseminate what they have learned at VMware Explore to the rest of the team when they get back. You will have more to share, and prove the value of going to VMware Explore, if you attend more sessions. But, being mindful of Tip 4, it is better to work smarter not harder.

Advice: Agree upfront with your colleagues which sessions you will go to. Try to ensure shared session are minimized (excluding keynote). Don’t forget to arrange times to meet up during the day to ensure you see a familiar face and swap notes!

#8 - Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

We go to tech conferences to learn more about technology! With VMware having such a large product and technology portfolio it means that every day is a school day. However if you’re a specialist in a specific topic, such as Cloud Management, you may feel that you should concentrate all of your effort on going to those sessions only. However, this is the wrong approach to take. I remember one year I completely concentrated a my whole agenda on Cloud Management. I realized after the first day that I had wasn’t actually learning anything I didn’t already know and I quickly changed up the rest of the week to combine both re-enforcement learning and new topics.

Advice: Growth only happens when you step outside your comfort zone. With this in mind, when putting sessions in your agenda, think about mixing and matching the sessions you go to. Who knows you may just learn what the next big thing is going to be for your career!

#9 - There Ain’t No Party Like A VMware Party

This has always been a favourite of mine at the conference and there has, genuinely, been some epic acts at the previous VMware Explore (and VMworld) Europe parties over the years, including:

  • Faithless (2015)
  • Empire of the Sun (2016)
  • Kaiser Chiefs (2017)
  • The Kooks (2018)
  • Simple Minds (2022)

Now, at VMware Explore 2023, we have… The Manic Street Preachers!

Advice: Make sure you swing by the VMware Party on Wednesday night! See You There!

#10 - There Is Safety In Numbers

This tip is not solely for Barcelona, every city has its problems. As I have said above, Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in the world. All I am saying is be sensible and ask yourself “Would I go wandering around at night on my own in my home city?”. I can probably guess the answer for at least 90% of the attendees.

Advice: It is much better to travel in a group of people, especially late a night!

Final Thoughts

I didn’t include this tip in the main body of the post because (hopefully) it goes without saying that the theme throughout your conference experience should be have fun and enjoy yourself at VMware Explore and in Barcelona. Also, the title Top 11 Things to Know Before You Go didn’t quite sound right!

Everyone has different experiences at tech conferences and everyone goes for different reasons. I will admit my only real experience has been at VMware Explore/VMworld (6) and KubeCon EU (1). However, I do believe all everyone wants to do at a conference is meet new (and like-minded) people, learn new things and, most importantly, have fun whilst doing it.

Personally, I cannot think of a better city to do that in rather than Barcelona.

Published on 18 October 2023 by Christopher Lewis. Words: 1563. Reading Time: 8 mins.