For the 5th year in a row the Einhoven Beursgebouw in The Netherlands was home to Phantasium: a convention all about fantasy, medieval times and steampunk. Even though there was a big emphasis on steampunk, with the opening night featuring three steampunk bands (The Violet Steam Experience, Abney Park and Victor Sierra) playing live and The Steampunk Objective having set up their camp so to speak on one of the balconies, the convention made sure to offer plenty of diversion and distraction for the guests that were there for everything else. Shops were varied, offering all kinds of things from re-enactment supplies, mead, clothing, ball jointed and other dolls to food and refreshments.
For those that did come for the steampunk however, well they found themselves treated to a veritable feast. The Steampunk Objective often sets up camp on conventions, but where they were now on the balcony they gave the impression of a sort of high up steampunk avenue, where they displayed all kinds of steamy set-ups ranging from a photo area, amazing modes of transportation such as The One Man Airship, to name but one and all manner of marvelous bits and pieces going from alchemy to weaponry and everything in between.
And now back onto the topic of the convention proper!
The uniform look of the stalls, with their red and white striped tent sheets not only gave the entire look inside that big grey hall a very warm and welcoming appeal but also a very nice almost renaissance fair look. Certainly all the stand holders did their utmost to dress up and little customisations at their market place made sure that every store had its own very distinctive personality while still blending in with the grand total.
While this is not the biggest con of its kind, it is certainly very unique in atmosphere and location. Where at other cons you are restricted to the very limited offer of food and seating space, here you could just walk outside and step out straight into the heart of the Eindhoven shopping district where you could find something else to eat if you there was nothing to your liking on offer. Aside from there are also several parking spots nearby and the train station is pretty much across the street, making it extremely easy to reach for people either reliant on public transport or lucky enough to have a car. And those wanting to stay nearby overnight also had the choice of hotels at only a short distance walk.
All of that together with the friendly and helpful staff and the overall warm and welcoming atmosphere, combined with the immense program on offer, ranging from performances all three days to a costume competition and much, much more, makes Phantasium definitely worth-while. The market may not be huge, but thanks to the other attractions on offer there is plenty to do to fill an entire day or afternoon. I would especially recommend this to parents with children also, because of its small size and location. And also to people who dislike the huge outdoors conventions, I do believe they would find this a very suitable alternative. But to be honest, anyone who loves open minded, fun conventions should consider visiting the 2014 edition next year.
For more photos, click here (more will be added soon later this week).
Still to come: a CD review of The Violet Steampunk Experience, concert reviews of Victor Sierra and Abney Park and an interview with Abney Park. Stay tuned!