3-4 December 2016
Reviewed by Deborah Banasko
I am a great fan of sci-fi TV shows, but my husband is a super-fan of anything sci-fi related so he was so excited that we were able to take out children (aged 2 and 5) so their first sci-fi convention.
The event ran over two days, and we attended the Sunday show. It started at 10am, so we were a little concerned when we arrived at midday that we wouldn’t be able to park or that stalls would be bare. Even though it was very busy, we parked easily on a road just 5 minutes walk away as opposed to risking the car-park.
The convention was hosted in a warehouse on an industrial estate, close to Trafford Centre in Manchester so it was fairly easy to find.
As we walked to the entrance there was a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, fairground, food vans and various cars including the Ghostbusters echo 1 for photo opportunities.
The staff were friendly and quick at getting you into the building, and once inside we were overcome by the amount of people dressed in amazing costumes. Initially we thought they were part of the staff, but actually the majority were members of the public dressed for the occasion and trying to win the best outfit competition. What I loved about all of this was that everyone was more than happy to have a photo with you – my husband is quite giddy that he had his picture taken with Deadpool and a Cylon. It just created a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere.
There were also official “characters” walking around for photo opportunities; Bumble Bee from Transformers and a very cheeky Chewbacca to name a few.
In the main exhibition room the first person I saw was the amazing Dirk Benedict just taking a break from signing autographs, and to my delight we were given permission to take a sneaky photograph as he passed through! However, this wasn’t protocol we soon realised as we tried to sneak a photo of Professor Sprout from the Harry Potter movies (she covered her face), so just be prepared that a photo and autograph with your favourite actor may cost £15-£20 from what we could see.
There were too many highlights, but my children particularly liked the animatronic Optimus Prime head and Dobby who sat within Hagrids Hut. I was taken back to my childhood having my photograph taken with animatronic E.T. within E.T. forest, and my husband loved the Doctor Who exhibition.
There was also the opportunity to pay for a go in Ripley’s Powerloader which looked amazing, but sadly scared my son hence we had to move on promptly. However, I would say that nothing else really upset or frightened the children, so do not be afraid to make this into a family day out, it’s ideal and so much fun.
The Piccadilly Orchestra started up shortly after we arrived, and to our delight played the Star Wars theme tune which really drew a crowd, it was breathtaking.
As we made our way into the Galactic Trading Place, artists were creating amazing live paintings, and comic writers and artists were positioned to sign autographs. It was possible for you to pay for a signed sketch from them too!
The stalls themselves were varied, and covered a range of price brackets. This was great for us, as it meant that we could spend a few pounds on a small item for the children to keep them happy whilst we looked at comics for my husband. The sweet stall and cake stand were also a godsend when you have children who would really rather go to see the animatronic displays again!
The items on sale covered everything from He-man to Star Wars, photographs to signed scripts. It was amazing to browse and we came away with some great items!
The kids arena was perfectly located after spending a bit of time looking around the stalls, as the kids were starting to get fed up. There were two bouncy castles and an inflatable slide which the children thought were amazing. There were chairs for the adults and a bar, with Christmas music blaring out. It wasn’t particularly fancy, but it was a chance to relax for a bit. It wasn’t the warmest of venues, which became apparent once we sat down, so make sure you wear a coat!
In terms of facilities, the toilets were clean and there were plenty of them. It was only after we left that realised there was a cafe and an upstairs bar, I think we were too distracted by the exhibits.
If it seems as though I am gushing, that’s because I am! There were so many wonderful exhibits that I have left unmentioned I could go on further. It is a perfect day out for the family, or with friends or a partner. It was a great mix and wonderful atmosphere, as you could just stroll around with a beer if you liked and soak it all in. I must stress that you do not need to be a sci-fi expert to enjoy this event; as long as there are a few TV shows or movies that you appreciate then you will get a lot from an event like this. I cannot award any less than 5 out of 5 stars as the day was amazing. I will be looking out for future events held by this company as it was so well organised and implemented, I feel very lucky to have reviewed this show.
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