Star Wars Celebration

Star Wars Celebration London 2016
Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016

July 15th – 17th, 2016
ExCeL London Exhibition Centre

by Bernie C Byrnes

A must for all die-hard Star Wars fans, Star Wars Celebration Europe is ‘three full days and two evenings of non-stop Star Wars entertainment, panels, screenings, interactive events, exhibits, shopping and more.’ Brilliant!

Sadly ‘your Media Badge does not allow early access, special access, or access into any events requiring an additional ticket beyond an attendee badge,’ so Access All Areas for reviewers this was not. Fair enough, I hear you cry, but with people queuing from 6AM just to get in with a chance of a wristband for the talks and panels, and autographs/photo ops costing between £15 and £145 (interestingly Carrie Fisher costs £80, Mark Hamill £145 – I suppose he has to care for that beard now), I opted to shuffle around the displays and stands instead. And there was plenty to see and do.

For the Gamers amongst you, Star Wars Battlefront; LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Star Wars: Commander; Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes; Star Wars: The Old Republic; Star Wars: Force Collection and Star Wars: The Cash Cow Continues (one of these may not be an actual game) were all out in force, marking this year the highest volume of gaming content in Celebration history.

You could also visit the planet Tatooine (if you didn’t mind queuing) at ILMxLAB’s innovative virtual reality installation, Trials on Tatooine. This immersive ‘experiment’ puts you in the role of a Jedi Padawan sent to Tatooine, where you rendezvous with the Millennium Falcon.

My favourite exhibit was the collection of costumes, props, and models used in the production of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I’m a sucker for this type of stuff, which had the added bonus that no additional fee was required.

If you’re a complete Star Wars disciple you could show your devotion to the Star Wars galaxy by getting a tattoo(ine?) by one of the many tattoo artists working live at the show. You could sign up for the Celebration Tattoo Competition too.

The prize for smelliest exhibit has to go to Propel Star Wars. Propel, one of the world’s premier drone manufacturers, were unveiling the first ever high-performance Star Wars multirotors. A mysterious cloud of smoke permanently surrounded the enclosure as professional pilots brought all the favourite Star Wars ships to life, at high speed, in famous Star Wars environments.

The best thing about Celebration though, was, without doubt, the Cosplay – swathes of people not looking to make money, just enjoy and celebrate a cultural phenomenon: a neon pink Wookiee, a tiny Boba Fett, a Yoda walkabout puppet, staggeringly detailed replica costumes and enough Storm Troopers to make the place feel like the Death Star. I didn’t stop smiling from when I stepped off the tube to when I wended my weary way back on it again.

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