The gatherings on BizBash's 2016 list of the top 100 annual events in both the United States and Canada represent a broad spectrum of experiences, from trade shows to benefits to music festivals to holiday parades.
These are not just the biggest events—though, often they are—but the ones with the smartest people behind them. People dedicated to using events to bring together groups with a common cause, as well as like-minded brands who serve as sponsors or activate alongside the official event. They’re not satisfied with the status quo, choosing to improve on already successful concepts.
Technology—and how to use it to maximum effect—became a crucial factor in the success of many events this year. Virtual reality had a significant breakthrough, and will continue to evolve as technology improves. It also became more essential to respond to the public's demand for real-time social engagement, as many events began to incorporate live-streaming features and live conversations on social media as essential parts of their programming.
Some choices may be obvious—juggernauts such as the Toronto International Film Festival and the Super Bowl remain at the top of the top—but smaller yet successfully executed events like Ontario’s Elvis Festival and the Aspen Ideas Festival rightly claim spots as well. This year’s list includes also new events and new rankings for events from past editions.
One reason to compile lists like this is to recognize industry-leading gatherings. A secondary reason is to invite discussion, and readers are invited to share their opinions on twitter @BizBash.
As with all lists, these are subjective. To choose and rank the annual events, we look at several factors, including economic impact, buzz, innovation, and an event’s prominence within the communities it intends to serve. We also vetted selections with industry insiders.