Dear Mummy, this post is a long time coming. Infact it was tasked to my daddy to help write-up as he’s the massive Star Wars fan and with Rouge One coming out in December its prompted me to share my folks experience of the biggest Star Wars convention that London has ever seen.
My daddy attended it with my mummy back in July and they both had an amazing time! My mummy had booked tickets a year in advance, as these kinda events sell out pretty quickly as you would imagine, as a surprise for daddy – but she quickly let it out of the bag. The event was called Star Wars Celebrations. #SWCE
What is Star Wars Celebration?
Well a hint is in the title! Star Wars Celebration is a fan gathering to celebrate the Star Wars franchise. It began in 1999, when Lucasfilm held the Star Wars Celebration in Denver, Colorado to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
Subsequent events have taken place to welcome Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, as well as honoring the 30th Anniversary of the release of the original three films. The eighth such event, the sixth to be held in the United States, took place in August 2012 in Orlando, Florida. This is the first time it’s been in London and my folks have been able to go.
There was cosplay, exclusive merchandise, cast appearances and announcements for Rogue One, Rebels, and Battlefront and tonnes awesome Star Wars stuff. This was my folks experience at the show, as they deemed me too young to go…..this time. The force is still young in this one!
Star Wars Celebration describes itself as a “love letter” from LucasFilm to its fans. It’s a three-day event over the weekend and my folks visited on the Friday, as there were better talks and the cosplayers were out in force (excuse the pun) due to the competition taking place that evening. My daddy dressed up as Obi-Wan and enjoyed walking around in character, posing happily for photos and to chat with other fans.
There were panel sessions which you needed to queue for in order to get allocated a seat and a wristband. My daddy found this aspect fairly disappointing as you needed to queue up at silly hours in the cold to grab yourself one of these wristbands. Having spent a small fortune on a hotel the night before my folks opted for a nice warm bed as opposed to sleeping against the cold steel barriers at the Excel. It wasn’t very fairly allocated and families attending found it near impossible to get a wristband refusing to queue for hours after midnight the day before. Only the die-hard fans managed to bag the wristbands.
My folks enjoyed looking at the exhibits and soaking up the atmosphere. They loved people watching and there were some fab characters around. Some people traveled from all over the world and they met a few in the queue from Germany and the US. Some of the stands were amazing! And it was a photographers dream with huge props and film set backdrops.
In the words of the organizers, “Like the Rebel Alliance, Star Wars Celebration doesn’t have a permanent home. Instead, it travels around the world to avoid Imperial detection — and to bring Star Wars to as many fans as possible.”
My folks jumped at the opportunity to get involved when the date was set for London. It was a beautifully sunny day when my folks got the Emirates cable car across the Thames from the O2 to the Excel. Glances where exchanged with others in costume while members of the public were quick to get their phones out to take pictures of my daddy and his friend.
The ExCeL London Exhibition Centre is at Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London E16 1XL, United Kingdom. The closest tube stops are on the DLR at either Custom House or Prince Regent. It’s a massive space and everyone was really excited travelling and queuing to get in. Thousands of people waited patiently for the doors to open and there could have been more to keep them occupied for the 30mins of shuffling and standing still to the entrance. Once inside the large exhibition hall the crowds dispersed and there was gasps of awe at some of the props and displays. It was like a shrine to Star Wars!
The Rogue One Panel
On Friday at 4pm the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story panel took place and was live streamed globally, my folks didn’t have wristbands to enter the session but watched from outside on the large screens. Rogue One’s director, Gareth Edwards, took to the stage with LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy to discuss the upcoming movie. There was a lot of speculation surrounding the film and one major spoiler was revealed, much to my Daddy’s dismay.
An hour with Mark Hamill
Earlier that morning as people were still arriving Mark Hamill took to one of the stages and this was a hot ticket. On the Celebration Stage he answered questions from the audience and told stories about his experiences playing Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. We got the opportunity to watch outside on the large screens and we’re also busy browsing the stands and enjoying the quiet in the main halls.
Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher, also made an appearance on the Sunday which my folks missed as they didn’t have a weekend ticket. But heard via social media that she came across really well. They saw lots of characters dressed up, some were really convincing too. There was a real buzz in the air, lots of dark drapes and film set lights and famous people being rushed around followed by cameras.
Rogue One Costumes and Props
My daddy really enjoyed looking at the Rogue One costumes and props from the film. Which were tucked away in one of the halls. It was great to get a sneak peek and get up close to the artifacts used on the Rogue One sets. This was super important for future cosplayers who were taking notes and photos so they could recreate at home.
Star Wars Celebration Tattoo competition
My folks both love tattoos and we’re amazed at some of the artwork that featured at the show. Star Wars Celebrations had its own dedicated tattoo pavilion which, for the entire weekend, has drawn talented tattoo artists from around the world. Visitors were asked to book directly with them through their websites to get inked on the day or show off their own Star Wars-themed ink in the tattoo competition on Sunday. My folks sadly missed the competition but caught up with it on social media.
On the Friday and Saturday evening at 9pm the organisers held free screenings of A New Hope (Friday) and The Force Awakens (Saturday) which gave visitors the chance to chill out, mingle and brush up on their Star Wars cinematic history. I think my daddy was too busy having fun playing in a mock up of a Delta 7 style star fighter for this though 😉
A disappointing factor was the extortionate price for an autograph though, some fetching as much as £170 per meet and greet with your favorite actors on top of the ticket price. My mummy so wished she had the money to give to my daddy for this. There was a dedicated Autograph Hall at the show where stars from the series were available to meet and greet fans. Stars included:
- Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker)
- Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia)
- Anthony Daniels (C-3PO; Dannyl Faytonni, Attack of the Clones)
- Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett, The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi; Lt. Sheckil, The Empire Strikes Back; Captain Colton, Revenge of the Sith)
- Ray Park (Darth Maul)
- Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)
- Daniel Logan (Young Boba Fett, Attack of the Clones
The late great R2-D2, Kenny Baker was also at the show but sadly we didn’t have the opportunity to meet this awesome guy.
The highlight for my folks was the Star Wars Celebration cosplay contest that was on while they visited. All the cosplayers had put so much effort and attention to detail into their appearance and stage presence it was like being on a film set. The cosplay competition was judged by LucasFilm’s creatitive executive, Rayne Roberts, Star Wars author Steve Sansweet, and Star Wars Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni. The people who dressed up for Star Wars Celebrations really made the show for us. If you fancy learning more about Star Wars cosplay you can visit UK Garrison & Rebel Legion websites as well as the 501st which are amongst many devoted fan based groups that continue the Star Wars legacy and raise money for charities in need. Not to mention bringing joy to many fans across the world. It’s great to see how something can cross boundaries and unite people in a common theme.
My folks downloaded the official Star Wars celebration app which led them around the exhibition and included a map of the show floor, a personalized show schedule, exact locations of screenings, panels, and autograph sessions, plus exhibitor info which we though was cool and it was free! Some other cool features at the exhibition was the Disney Photo Booth stand which gave them a free commemorative print and prop stands where my mummy could dress up if she wanted too.
My mummy loved browsing the stands and looking at all the Star Wars merchandise. She was particularly taken with the Irregular Choice shoes! There were quite a lot of retailers at the show, maybe too many. You needed a lot of cash on you too. And she waited for over 90 minutes for the official merch stand to get commemorative t-shirts for daddy from the event! She found on the whole a lot of the traders to be friendly and helpful apart from one who mocked her lack of knowledge and made her feel small. Such a shame as she joined my daddy and felt like his side kick after that.
All in all it was a great experience, an expensive experience, but we wouldn’t have been able to afford seeing it in the States. The 2017 Star Wars Celebrations is in Orlando and if we save really hard we might be able to make the show after that! It’s great for Star Wars Fans!
Love Bella, with the help from her Jedi daddy. x