The event will officially get underway at 6pm this evening
The official opening of Web Summit 2016 will take place at 6pm this evening. This is the first time the event will be held outside of Dublin. CEO and co-founder Paddy Cosgrave will make his opening remarks before handing over to the Portuguese Prime Minister.
I managed to get a sneak preview of the MEO Arena yesterday evening, 24 hours before the event officially kicks off. This is a purpose built music venue, similar to our Three Arena, that hosts the biggest music acts in the world. For the next few days, however, it will host the Web Summit Main Stage. The ground level of this arena can host 4,000 people before tiered seating rises to the roof. There's a separate exhibition hall across from the MEO, which will host all other aspects of the event throughout the week.
I met with Mike Harvey, Head of Strategic Communications at Web Summit if Lisbon is living up to their expectations so far.
"I think so, yes it is. We've been able to do things in an easy way than we could ever do in Dublin," he explains. "We have pre-registration at the airport for all the people flying in from 166 countries as soon as they arrive. We've been able to organise a special transport ticket for Web Summit attendees that's €25 for as much travel on the public transport and there's lots of other things that we've been able to organise. This is our first year in Lisbon, something is bound to go wrong, but we think we have a template for being able to put stuff on abroad and deal with those logistics in a pretty useful fashion."
The final touches were being made to the large venue as I walked through. More than 53,000 people will take part in a Web Summit event in Lisbon over the coming days. That's a massive undertaking for the 150 workers that makes up the conference's team.
Many Irish eyes, however, will be looking to see how the Wifi holds up over the course of the 4 days. As we all know, there was a number of connectivity issues towards the end of Web Summit's time in Dublin. Mike Harvey is cautiously optimistic that things will be ok this time around.
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the Wifi is going to be absolutely immaculate, it's a very difficult technical challenge. What I can say is that Portugal Telecom has been working very hard with the venues and with Cisco to provide a real state-of-the-art system. They're charged up to be able to deal with 150,000 devices. We have 50,000 attendees. We hope that's going to be able to cope. We're calmly confident that it will work and we'll see how it goes".
We'll bring you full coverage of Web Summit 2016 right here, and you can follow my journey through Lisbon here.