CES 2021 dates, location and Las Vegas plans

CES 2021 Announcement
(Image credit: CTA)

CES 2021 will be back in Las Vegas, as scheduled. Organizers announced recently that the annual CES trade show will still be held in the Las Vegas Convention Center and surrounding areas this January, with in-person events and the usual mix of TVs, laptops, audio products and crazy gadgets.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the organizing body behind the influential trade show, has announced that plans for CES 2021 are underway, and that the show will continue as scheduled, albeit with some added plans to promote cleanliness and enable social distancing in the notoriously crowded venues of Las Vegas.

Last January, the show attracted more than 175,000 attendees from across the globe, just before the coronavirus pandemic led to nationwide shutdowns and the eventual cancellation of many tech industry events.

The massive turn out that CES brings annually plays a big role in the broader tech industry, but also the Las Vegas economy, which sees a huge influx of business as CES attendees fill hotel rooms, dine at restaurants, ride in taxis and pump funds into local services. 

And with Las Vegas casinos and hotels closing their doors for much of the 2020 calendar year, there's no doubt that many businesses are looking forward to the annual CES boost to revive flagging business in the new year.

Here's everything we know about CES 2021.

CES 2021 dates

The CTA has announced that CES 2021 is scheduled to run January 6-9, 2021.

Preceding the three-day tradeshow will be 3 or 4 days of media events, where companies will hold press conferences, announce new products and tease upcoming innovations.

CES 2021 location

As in years past, the CES trade show is primarily held in the Las Vegas Convention Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

But the sprawling show also dominates venues up and down the Las Vegas Strip, including the Sands Expo Center, and event spaces at Mandalay Bay and ARIA hotels. In 2020, there were 11 official show venues, with unofficial events and meetings taking place in the surrounding area.

CES 2021 planned changes

To allay fears and provide a safe show for attendees, the CTA is implementing a number of plans to make the upcoming show safer and cleaner. This ranges from regularly cleaning and sanitizing venue spaces to widening aisles and encouraging show-goers not to shake hands.

The show organizers will be pushing to reduce the need to touch things during the show, by encouraging cashless payment options for goods and services, and providing contactless thermal scans and access to on-site health services and medical aid.

In addition to not shaking hands, attendees are being encouraged to wear masks and follow other best practices for limiting the spread of disease, such as frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer. Event seating is being re-thought, with more space between seats at conference programs.

The show will likely also include several livestreamed events, allowing companies and participants to join in without attending in person. According to the CTA's announcement, "We will showcase our exhibitors’ products, technology breakthroughs and ideas to the world, both physically in Las Vegas and digitally."

While the usual booths and product demos will surely be present, it's likely that keynote addresses, industry panels and major press conferences will include streaming and video-enabled remote participation. A lot of people speaking and presenting at CES 2021 may not be in Las Vegas at all.

 CES 2021 updates & news

While the CTA has announced that it intends to hold the CES 2021 show as scheduled, there's still a lot that can happen between now and next January.

Several other major shows have been cancelled in recent months, even after event organizers pushed to stick to original scheduling. The phone-centric Mobile World Congress was cancelled after several key exhibitors pulled out, the tech and media-focused SXSW didn't happen this year as local officials blocked the show over coronavirus concerns, and major developer conferences, like Microsoft Build and Apple WWDC have shifted to all-online formats.

The current CES plans could likewise change if the big exhibitors or general public are still skittish about public events at the end of the year. Guidance from the CDC and government bodies could put the kibosh on the show if coronavirus surges again in the second half of 2020. And after several months of in-person events being replaced with livestreams and virtual events, it's possible that the industry might start moving on from large conferences and trade shows entirely.

We'll keep you updated on what's happening with CES 2021 as new announcements are made.

Brian Westover

Brian Westover is currently Lead Analyst, PCs and Hardware at PCMag. Until recently, however, he was Senior Editor at Tom's Guide, where he led the site's TV coverage for several years, reviewing scores of sets and writing about everything from 8K to HDR to HDMI 2.1. He also put his computing knowledge to good use by reviewing many PCs and Mac devices, and also led our router and home networking coverage. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.