The second edition of Antwerp Convention, or in full: Antwerp sci-fi, fantasy and horror convention really did not disappoint. As is the thing with conventions there was a lot of merchandise available, but contrary to other cons there was a very wide diversity and a lot of things at this event was stuff not seen at others. The sales focus is not just on the current hype, but on entire genres, which is a great change from many other events.
What is also awesome is that it really does it’s best to not only focus on the three main genres, but also offer entertainment for others such as a cosplay competition, video games and robot games as well as presentations and fun things such as a really cool band playing Mario tunes. Dressed up as Mario characters while at it.
Aside from that it is great to see how geeks from all fandoms just get along and have a collective good time, no matter what they are fan of. There was none of the animosity that sometimes rears it’s ugly head on other places of collective geek gathering.
There was a lot of costuming going on as well. It’s always cool to see the effort that many guests put into their costumes, ranging from really popular things such as Link from Zelda to far obscurer character representations. I’m inclined to say that of all Belgian conventions, it’s at Antwerp Convention where you can see the very best costumes and fandom inspired outfits. And the steampunks that are present look pretty dashing too!
This convention may be on a much smaller scale than others but that makes it no less fun or worthwhile to visit. Those wanting to shop are probably going to eat their heart out due to aforementioned variety of things on offer. For just hanging out and having some fun with friends at a convention this one is excellent, especially seeing they have quite nice areas set up for socialising and having a drink. Entertainment wise it really does an effort to compete with its larger brethren and I found that it was far better organized than at that other larger convention with mostly the same focus that is programmed for the fall here in Belgium. Speakers were easily heard and rather than shoved in some cubicle they were on the stage, which was set up so that people wanting to take a quick photo could do so without being a hindrance to others. It was also set up in a way so it was easily visible and accessible.
The entire con has been set up that way, with wide passage ways so it doesn’t get terribly clogged and people generally have a good visibility of what’s going on around them. For those that care about these things there’s also a good amount of celebrity guests present. One more famous than the other of course, but it’s fun to see the convention does the effort.
Another very nice touch were the photo-opportunity statues they had scattered in a few places around the con, presenting guests with a fun spot to take pictures of friends and have their own photo taken.
And ok, there’s not the greatest offer of food and drink, but there’s places to eat very close by and you can just walk in and out as much as you like because they give you a handy stamp on the hand.
As far as steampunk goes, I saw less steampunks at the convention this year (last year there were at least 8 of us, this year I counted 6) but there was definitely more steampunk merchandise on offer. While this is obviously not a steampunk convention, it is very welcoming to followers of the movement and there is definitely some catering to their interests going on, which is always nice to see.
There was one shop selling steampunk corsets, several sold accessories and one shop in particular focused on various gentlefolk accessories, pocket watches and assorted letter writing supplies. And one of my personal favorites: the bookshop selling Jules Verne novels, some in vintage editions with linen covers even!
All in all, this edition was even better than the first one, and I would recommend this convention to every fellow geek wanting to have a fun day out with likeminded folks.
The only improvement, in my opinion, they could make is to make sure that there’s a printed program available at the entrance and a very clear time schedule on the website, but let’s be honest: the lack of that is really nothing compared to all the awesome this con does offer.
Photos by Hilde Heyvaert and Sam Van den Bulck