I thought that a retrospective at DrupalCamps (not sure whether those words should be joined or not?) over 2012 would be an interesting thing to look at. Both to see the enthusiasm and passion that is behind the Drupal community in the UK & Ireland but also to contrast with other development and tech conferences. My initial inspiration was receiving a mailshot from an unnamed conference offering conference tickets at the early bird price of £999.99 (+VAT). Personally I found this price rather expensive (although I am sure that there could be claims that they have to pay for venue, food, security, presenters and such like), however, it made me wonder about the great disparity in cost from different conferences.
In 2012, in the UK & Ireland there were 7 DrupalCamps (in no particular order):
I attended 3 of those at a cost of £90.00. My accommodation at them cost around £50 per night, with other expenses (food, drink, travel) probably being around £50 per weekend. So that totals 3 nights at £50, 3 weekends at £50 and ticket costs of £90 a total of £390. So if on average I spend £130 on attending DrupalCamp it would mean I could attend 7.69 for £1000. That would be every DrupalCamp last year for less than the cost of 1 conference. I appreciate that this is an approximation of costs, however, the realstic ability to attend DrupalCamps when I can and them not break the bank is astounding. When you think that these Drupalcamps have 2/3 days of event at each one with between 60-200 people attending it goes to show the enthusiasm for Drupal throughout the UK & Ireland.
Obviously these would not be possible without the hours of voluntary working hours that the organisers put into arranging sponsors, venues, accommodation, food and many more things, however, this also adds weight to the community. So if you are new to Drupal or want to get out and learn some more about it, then find a DrupalCamp and go to it, there is one in London 3rd March (http://2013.drupalcamplondon.co.uk/ get tickets here http://drupalcamplondon.eventbrite.com/ (EDIT: I have just seen it has sold out)). Personally I cannot attend there but look forward to plenty more in the future.