Monday, 19 August 2013

My LeakyCon Experience - Part Two

So next up on our LeakyCon adventures was the action packed Friday. Friday started with, you guessed it, a queue. This was the queue for wristbands for the signings of the day. LeakyCon, unlike most cons, include the cost of any signings happening that weekend in the price of the ticket. However, to make for an efficient convention, make sure that those going to the signings get a guaranteed signature and to make sure those doing the signings actually have time to themselves and to enjoy the convention. So in order to make it fair, everyone draws for a wristband – you pull a ticket out of a bag, red is means you didn’t get a wristband and white means you did. On Friday there were three draws going on – Team StarKid, The HP Actors and Hank Green. We got to draw for all three, and I won a wristband for Hank’s signing which I was super excited about because it’s the one I really wanted to go to.

Our first port of call for the day was the Nerdfighter meet-up, which was all kinds of wonderful. After that we grabbed a quick bite of lunch before visiting the Waterstones store which had set up in the building and attending the lit signing. Here I met authors James Dawson, Matt Whyman, Will Hill, Sally Gardner, Samantha Shannon, Laure Eve and Elizabeth Wein who were all absolutely lovely and willing to chat as they signed your book.
My highlight of the day was a LeakyLit panel titled ‘Fear and Loathing in the Writing Process: How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Terror’.

I was particularly looking forward to this panel, as an aspiring author. Writing is all that I’ve ever wanted to do, and if I have it my way what I will end up doing but god it is terrifying at times. It was wonderful, reassured me that those “published authors” are no different from us “normal” folk and that they all suffer from the same issues I do. I also got my question answered about how to set aside time to write when you have a full-time job etc and they were incredibly helpful. I also fell a little bit in love with James Dawson and Samantha Shannon, who are hilarious and so down to earth.

I attended a couple of other panels and the Hank Green signing, and the day was capped off by another Wrock concert with some really amazing performances by some amazingly talented people. Harry and The Potters constantly astound me.

Saturday started with another queue for wristbands, and I managed to pull one for the Harry Potter Actors signing, which was definitely a great start to the day.

Before that, however, was the HP Actors Panel, where the Actors played a hilarious game of HP trivia. After that was the signing, and I was able to get my Blu-Ray Box Set signed by those there and my Wand Box for Luna’s wand signed by Evanna Lynch herself. After that we managed to catch the very end of the Who Has it Worse? Panel, which was a hilarious discussion between Dawn o’Porter and James Dawson.

Next on the agenda was the Who Needs School? Lit panel, where the authors talked about the various ways in which they have come into writing and whether they have actually studied creative writing or English. Naturally, it went off topic and we also spoke about editing, ghost-writing and sticking it to the man (publishers).

The StarKid performance was on the Saturday afternoon. I'm not a massive StarKid fan, but the excitement in that room was absolutely astounding and they do put on a really good performance. 

The highlight of the Saturday was definitely the Esther Earl Rocking Charity Ball. It was a chance for all the attendees to get a bit glammed up, get a bit drunk and dance with all the friends that you’ve made that weekend. It was really wonderful, and the whole of the Grand Ballroom dancing to Gangnam Style then belting out Total Eclipse of the Heart is a memory I’ll treasure for a long time.

And then on the Sunday, it was time for the leaving feast. That is literally what it says on the tin, we all ate an English breakfast and cried a little about how we didn't want to leave.

I honestly had the best time at LeakyCon and I am still very much in the midst of my post-LeakyCon depression. I’ve definitely got the bug and am hoping I’ll be able to make it to Orlando for next year’s LeakyCon. In the UK there is a bit of a stigma about conventions, but honestly I consider it to have been just as good as any festival I’ve ever been to. And inside, with you know, beds.

Friday, 16 August 2013

My LeakyCon Experience - Part One

Last week I had the absolute pleasure of attending LeakyCon London with my pal Ria. LeakyCon is a Harry Potter convention that typically runs over four days, and has been going since 2009. LeakyCon has evolved as the Harry Potter films came to a close to celebrate all things fandom, and the love for characters, actors and music the fandom has given us. I’ve wanted to attend LeakyCon since its beginnings but until this year it had only been held in the US – and my poor little bank account has never been able to stretch to that. However this year the lovely staff, led by Potter fan and figurehead Melissa Anelli, decided that it was time to bring the conference over to Harry’s homeland… England. The convention was held in the truly beautiful setting of the Grand Connaught Rooms in London.

The night before the convention all kicked off the attendees, staff, and friends and family were invited to buy tickets to an exclusive evening at Warner Bros Studio Tour to celebrate the behind-the-scenes aspects of the movies with one another. I was lucky enough to have attended the WB Studio Tour when it very first opened, but a lot had changed since then and it was great to go back and experience it with a few hundred other Potter fans. The atmosphere was absolutely electric. The lovely Scarlett Byrne who plays Pansy Parkinson in the films also welcomed us to the tour and ushered us in, which was the very first magical moment of a very special weekend. After leaving the tour Ria and I grabbed some pizza from Ecco Pizza on Drury Lane (I really recommend them, they are so tasty and such good value for money in London) and relaxed ready for the mad weekend ahead.

The next day Ria and I woke up bright and early ready for Day 1 of LeakyCon – well, as early as we thought we needed to be up! It turned out there was already a large queue forming outside the GCR so we rushed down there. After over an hour in line we were registered, grabbed a quick hot drink from CafĂ© Nero and were on to the first of four very busy days. On that first day we attended the Leaky first-timers meet up, where they gave us tips and tricks on getting the best experience out of our first time at LeakyCon and squished all of our nerves. After that we attended the Whovian meet up, which was incredibly packed and we all shared our excitement about the 50th anniversary and the new Doctor. 

When that ended we got into the queue for the Opening Ceremony, which if I’m being totally honest, was the worst part of LeakyCon for me. The venue was a bit small for the amount of people there, and they hadn’t yet figured out to handle us. Instead of being in any sort of queue every attendee was squished together in the lobby, pushing and shoving, blocking all of the entrances and exits. However they managed to get us all in the room in an orderly fashion eventually, and the ceremony started.

The Opening Ceremony was amazing – Melissa welcomed us, speakers from HPA and Lumos spoke about the important charity work that they do, Evanna Lynch, Scarlett Byrne, Alfie Enoch and Robbie Jarvis each spoke to the crowd, the Wizard Rockers warmed up for the evening ahead with quick performances, Hank Green did his first Accio Deathly Hallows performance of the weekend and Team StarKid surprised the audience by appearing throughout the room randomly before making their way to stage to perform.

We had a quick wonder around the vendor room to look at the beautiful merch on sale before sitting back in the grand ballroom and resting our weary bones ready for the Wizard Rock concert that evening. Wizard Rock is a genre of music inspired by Harry Potter books and films and is a huge part of the fandom. Two of my favourite YouTube personalities were playing that evening – Alex Carpenter and Hank Green, so I was excited to be right at the front, centre stage in front of the mic. The whole evening was amazing, and I got introduced to some amazing acts that I had never heard of before. After the gig I was lucky enough to grab a picture with Alex Carpenter before heading back to the hotel for a couple of hours sleep.

For what happened on days 2, 3 and 4 – stay tuned!
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