For the past couple of years, I have been going to Icon every winter holiday. The format was always the same. 3 days of unplugged gaming and a whole lot of dodgy dogs and lots of wonderful geeky jokes from amazing friends.
This year something different happened. The venue was changed and the organisers figured go big or go home. Boy did they go BIG between Les and Grant, I am not sure who was most relieved that it seems to be a success. Yes some places had hitches but hopefully those will be sorted out as of next year.
The venue was changed from a quaint hall to a much larger and fancier venue that was easy to find, Gallaghar estates. This meant the place was huge so huge in fact that at times it felt very quiet even though it wasn't. That also meant places to sit and get food was doable.
They had three types of tickets this time around, one day, 3 day, or VIP. Stephen and I went for VIP because well we liked the idea of being able to park in the place as well as having a few perks, the shorter queues for food being one of them. The other thing that was pretty great was being able to watch the panels in the front and not worrying about tickets to the comedy show and that, they were all included. One tip I can recommend about going to Icon, is buy the mug, the mug gives you access to free coffee or tea the entire weekend. Not constantly needing to buy everything you drink, saves a lot of money.
Now you are probably wondering, what is there to do at Icon, I would answer what isn't there to do. There are board gaming areas where they not only play in competitions, including for cool prizes but also just places where you and your friends can have casual areas to play. If boardgames aren't your thing, then try out Magic: The gathering, this is mostly an competitive area but the players are usually more than happy to teach you. There is also the Medieval combat guys as well as the larp guys, I am happy to explain these to you in much further detail in another post. There is also roleplaying and if that still doesn't tickle your fancy, there is the panels.
The panels this year are new and whoo were they awesome. I really enjoyed them I didn't get to see as many as I wanted, but they had a huge variety of things to learn about. I learnt how to Podcast, as well as Medieval Combat but a different ruleset than I am used to. Seriously there was everything from how to play in a game to how to cosplay.
The vendors this year were pretty cool, with more room, they had more space for vendors and also more stuff at the stalls, the Artist allay. Arwen was there with her amazing corsets, whoot as well Sin Bin and Silk Road and Bag Life South Africa. Stephen and I got some funky bags from Baglife that are big enough to carry everything.
Would I go again, yes in a heart beat. Would I recommend it to a friend, yes in a heartbeat. Do I think most non geeks would like it, well depends on what they are into.