Fully named Antwerp Sci-fi, Fantasy and Horror Convention, but by all, the organization included, referred to as Antwerp Convention has just passed with its third edition. And what an edition it was! This convention has steadily continued to grow, not only in popularity but also in quality and as someone who has attended all three editions so far I can honestly say that this is a con worth going to.
Not only does Antwerp Convention successfully unite fans of three major genres, it does so equally. There’s no sum up of several genres to attract people only for visitors to realized there’s hardly anything there they actually came for. No Antwerp Convention promises and then delivers.
And organizes a wide variety of things for people to be entertained: cosplay, laser shooting, lectures, guests to meet and much more.
And for the Japan fan they had some bits and pieces too with the presence of Belgotaku, Nippon Zasshi and several shops catering to the tastes of those interested in the land of the rising sun.
Even though you could buy drink tokens at the entrance, you could get drinks at some stands without them. And due to the space limitations for the dining area the Korean food stand, which had excellent food for value by the way, had come up with the solution of take-away boxes, so you could just carry your food to the area near the stage which had more tables and a huge mat to sit on without fear of spilling. I thought that was pretty well done in creating an area where people could just sit around.
Even though there was such a mish-mash of styles, people were generally incredibly friendly and open minded (unless you ran into the few token douchebags that you get everywhere or the team of Gazet van Antwerpen) and mostly very interested in and respectful about the costume or outfit choices of others. As was the case with previous years, you could see some truly amazing costumes at Antwerp Convention. I’m inclined to think that this is the con people really do an effort for.
Steampunks were also well represented this year, with people from both Steamnation and Artifakt present, as well as several others dressed to the nines in their finest steampunk garb. There were some bits and pieces for sale spread out among the vendors, just like always, a little more than previous years. There were definitely more steampunks present than ever before and of different style persuasions ranging from fandom to ethnic, Victorian, Western and casual. A clear testament to the diversity of the movement.
Of course a large part of a con is shopping, and it is no different with Antwerp Convention. But what is different is the fact that you find distinctively different things here than on other conventions. While some items remain the same, most are things you very rarely see. The convention has never been one to solely focus on what’s hip and popular at the time, instead provides the opportunity for collectors to get their hands on pieces they can’t find elsewhere, often at a very reasonable price. And it’s just great to see vintage toys and fandoms you don’t generally encounter because they’re not the mainstream thing of that particular week.
Another nice touch from the organization is that they set up a booth in the middle of the entrance hall where you can pick up flyers and posters of the event as a free souvenir, which is something a lot of visitors appreciate quite a bit of course, especially as the Antwerp Convention artwork is always amazing.
Once again, Antwerp Convention was simply epic, and I absolutely look forward to the next edition. My only suggestion to the organization would be to install those cool photo backdrops next time so people can have their photo taken at a cool location by their friends.
Photography by Babs Barning and Hilde Heyvaert.
More photos can be seen here.