Friday, 5 April 2013

Eastercon - My Weekend

Last weekend I went to EightSquaredCon, the 64th Eastercon, held this year at Bradford. This was my first Eastercon and I’d heard much about how this is the most fun of the cons, and that this is the one that people dress up at. I was anticipating being wowed by all the cosplay, but actually there wasn’t that much. There were a few Steampunky types wandering around though, and some people selling some very interesting Steampunk costume accessories in the dealer’s room, which was fun to see. Other than that, it was very much the same as other cons I’ve been to – panels, talks, a few workshops, a dance, and a bar area which could have done with a few more seats!

It was a lot of fun, and I’m really glad I managed to go after all (it was a bit of a last minute thing). At first I walked in and saw a room full of people and no-one I knew. Uh oh! But very quickly I began to catch people in hallways and say hello, before heading off to the first panel I was interested in.

The chosen venue was pretty good (if a bit pricey on the drinks and food side), but I thought a hotel closer to the town centre would have been better, allowing for more choice for lunches and dinners. The programme was interesting though, and there were some great panels. It was a shame about the dance – it was a bit of a non-starter, and I ended up back in the bar with a group of friends. The disco had been so much fun at Fantasycon, but I guess this wasn’t quite the same kind of event. The magician, however, was an inspired choice, and a lot of people were very excited to get the autograph of the toaster from Red Dwarf (yep, really). The dealer’s room was also very tempting, with some great things that I hadn’t seen at other cons, including t-shirts, jewellery and even two-headed teddy bears. And of course, so many amazing looking books! I had to go to the con with a strict budget, and thankfully I managed to stick to it, though that dealer’s room did almost break me at several points.

But, as always, it was really the people that made the con so fantastic. I spent more time in the bar and less at talks at this con than I had at previous ones, as it was just so nice to see everyone again and to meet lovely new people, and to introduce others to John (who also had a lot of fun!). Thank you to friends old and new for making it such a great, relaxed event, and for being so welcoming. I had some wonderful conversations with various people and met a lot of great authors, and now my head is swimming with ideas for posts and articles, and inspiration for my work-in-progress!

It was also nice to see the con being so dedicated to including everyone – the organisers made sure women were represented equally on panels, and there were talks about diversity, non-Western SFF, sexuality, motherhood in SF, and much more too. I enjoyed all the talks I went to.

So, to the organisers, panellists and everyone attending, thank you for such a fun weekend.

Looking forward to seeing some of you again at EdgeLit!


  1. Hi,

    We're delighted that you enjoyed the convention, and in particular that you liked the programme - we worked hard to try to get a high-quality and diverse range of items, and it seems that we succeeded.

    In terms of the hotel, there are actually some significant constraints facing anyone wanting to run an Eastercon-sized event (i.e. 800-1300 people):

    - you need a lot of function space: one really big room, a couple of large rooms, some medium-size rooms, several smaller rooms, and adequate socialising space.

    - you need somewhere between several hundred and a thousand bed spaces at the hotel or reasonably nearby.

    It turns out that there are surprisingly few hotels in the UK that meet these requirements, are free at the Easter weekend and are happy to host conventions (some aren't - we've asked!).

    So, we were rather limited in our choice of hotel, but we're glad to hear that you enjoyed what we did with it.

    Simon Bradshaw
    EightSquaredCon head of programme

    1. Hi Simon, thanks for stopping by!

      Wow, organising the hotel sounds like a bit of a nightmare. I'm surprised more of them aren't open to conventions, seems like a great thing for a hotel to me. I thought this one did have a really well placed bar area which gave it a welcoming feeling as soon as you walked in, so on the rooms and layout aspect it was great. And I forgot to mention that the buses going back and forth between town and the venue were an excellent idea and well arranged! :-)

      The programme was brilliant - some really good talks and discussions that I hadn't seen done before at other cons, and a great feeling of inclusivity. Also quite a few 'SFF in games' discussions, which was nice because games can get a bit forgotten sometimes.

      Thanks for arranging a really fun event! :-)

  2. As SF cons go, Eastercon tends to the bookish and literary - the dealers room is mostly books, there is a lot of talk about books, there are book launches and so on. If you like more costumery then there are probably lots of others! I went to the London Film and Comic Con last summer which was more about costumes and memorabilia, for example.

    1. I much prefer the book side of it myself, but have never actually seen anyone cosplaying before and am really curious about it! Maybe I'll pop to the comic con at Leeds this year; I've heard it's quite an amazing experience, and it's pretty easy for me to get to. My husband is much more into games than books, so it's nice when cons like last weekend's Eastercon include that aspect of SFF too. :-)