Star Wars Celebrations are huge events and there’s so much going on during the convention that it is can be hard to know what to do. Thankfully our intrepid Fantha Trackers are here to share their best advice when it comes to getting the most out of a Celebration. In this first installment of a three part series these Celebration veterans will help you prepare for Celebration by telling you what to bring to the convention.
Previous Celebrations: Celebration III (2005) Celebration IV (2007) Celebration Europe (2007) Celebration V (2010) Celebration VI (2012) Celebration Europe II (2013) Celebration Anaheim (2015) Celebration Europe III (2016) Celebration Orlando (2017) and heading to Celebration Chicago (2019)
There are three things that are a must for me at a Celebration: two pair of comfortable shoes, a poster tube and medicines.
The shoes should be a given, but I know that I have failed to do that anyway. The convention floor is hard and you are going to spend a lot of time standing and walking. A day at Celebration is not the best time to break in your new Star Wars shoes, no matter how cool they look. It is also good to bring more than one pair of shoes, so that you can switch to another pair if your feet are tired after a day in the same pair.
The poster tube is for prints and posters. I do not buy a lot of exclusives, except for a print or two. At the last Celebrations they have also handed out posters at the main panels. A poster tube is essential to get them home in good conditions. My poster tube has been cut off so that I know that it fits my main suitcase exactly, I do not want to risk getting creases or ugly marks on my art pieces.
If you, like me, are dependant on medicines several times a day, make sure that you have them with you to the convention. Also make sure that you have a back up plan on how to deal with different events from a medical point of view. For example stress and excitement affects me a lot, and since Celebrations are an almost neverending rush I need to bring extra medical supplies with me to be able to control what’s going on in my body. If you have special needs or disabilities you can be eligible for a medical sticker on your badge, for example if you can’t stand in line for hours at a time, and that can really help you to get the most out of a Celebration.
Previous Celebrations: Celebration Europe II (2013), Celebration Europe III (2016), Celebration Orlando (2017) and heading to Celebration Chicago (2019)
This will be my fourth Celebration now and I would say that the best tip I can give is to check out some of the smaller panels. Japanese vegetable carving or toy collecting ideas may not be everyone’s go to panel but the information and passion from the panelists will leave everyone fascinated and they can be a highlight or memory which will last fat beyond the convention. Many of the bigger panels will be streamed on YouTube and large screens and often entry can only be through ridiculously long queues, so if you see a smaller panel nearby, check it out!
Previous Celebrations: Too many to count but heading to Celebration Chicago (2019).
Bring a battery pack, comfy shoes, and a water bottle!
Previous Celebrations: Celebration Europe (2007) Celebration Europe II (2013) Celebration Anaheim (2015) Celebration Europe III (2016) Celebration Orlando (2017) and heading to Celebration Chicago (2019)
So in the past I over packed! I brought all my favourite Star Wars t-shirts, shoes and accessories not realising I would buy loads more and want to wear them! So my advice is choose 2 tops you want to wear and then buy the rest! Comfortable shoes is as everyone above has said is a must!
This will be my first Celebration that’s cold outside the convention centre. However, I know it will be hot inside so striking that balance will be important! so I’m already having a crisis of wardrobe!
A backpack with lots of pockets/straps is important one year I bought a wheelie suitcase and it was a pain in the a*** it’s far better to have it on your back with the poster tube attached!
In that bag I have snacks, painkillers, drinks, battery packs, cash and credit cards and sharpies! try not to overfill at the start as it will weigh a tonne by the end of the day!
However the most important thing to bring with you is a sense of humour and patience without those you will just get yourself tied up in knots and upset for no reason!
Previous Celebrations: Celebration IV (2007) Celebration Europe (2007) Celebration VI (2012) Celebration Europe II (2013) Celebration Anaheim (2015) Celebration Europe III (2016) Celebration Orlando (2017) and heading to Celebration Chicago (2019)
Power pack for phone, deodorant, comfy shoes, photo / autograph protectors, poster tube, snacks, water bottle, plenty of cash (and small notes).
Download the Star Wars Celebration App.
Make note of where to come to meet the awesome gang at the Fantha Tracks booth (it’s booth #1248 near the Show Store and the Costume Groups stage).
Previous Celebrations: Heading to Celebration Chicago (2019)
My packing advice is simple, take what you need, but do not pack more than you carry around the event. I always have trouble with this, so I might not be the best one to give this advice. However, it is always my goal each time I plan on attending a Celebration what I am actually taking with me into the event.
This year to help with this goal, I decided to use this wonderful packing list, Star Wars Celebration Chicago Packing & Itinerary PDF, provided by blogger and digital artist, Jenn DePaola.
Previous Celebrations: Celebration Europe (2007) Celebration VI (2012) Celebration Europe II (2013) Celebration Anaheim (2015) Celebration Europe III (2016) Celebration Orlando (2017) and heading to Celebration Chicago (2019).
Given that this is my seventh Celebration in 12 years, you’d think I have this down to a fine art by now.
After seven Celebrations in the States and Europe, three New York Comic Cons, three Toy Fair New York’s, five Rancho Obi-Wan galas and Star Wars Fan Days in 2011 I still find myself throwing things into the suitcase on the night before the trip, and more often than not buying things at the airport that I’ve forgotten, usually for ridiculously inflated prices. I may have the perfectly valid excuse of overseeing the content on the website each day which keeps me busy, but in the spirit of the man who tweets on the toilet, there’s always time to get things done.
So, my free and easy advice (which I have no doubt whatsoever I will fail to adhere to) is to pack early, make a list and tick them off as you do them. Make sure your passport (if you need it) and dollars are organised well in advance, the ESTA is up to date, the flights are on schedule and transfers are organised. All big headaches you can do without on the morning you head off.
Travelling with Fantha Tracks to our first Celebration is a big deal, and at our previous online home we certainly learned a lot about what to do (and what NOT to do). Fresh undercrackers, socks and t-shirts are important, but to conserve space (as I KNOW I will be buying a cargo hold full of good stuff and 23 kg in weight can be eaten up very quickly) I usually take a travel soap and washing line so I can pack as light as possible and rinse and reuse the small stuff in the sink. Believe me, it saves a surprising amount of space and only takes a couple of minutes each day to do.
We’re there seven nights, so I’ll likely take a few t-shirts, my Fantha shirts (the team have some gorgeous new ones that will be debuted at the show), my heavy coat (dependent on the weather forecast as know Chicago can be on the cool side) and a smart shirt – the rest I will buy in the Celebration shop or at various stalls around the convention centre. Members of the team are taking tech equipment, and as the tech numpty of Fantha Tracks I’ll be sure my ZOOM H4N is in good conditions, the memory card is clear for the show and there are plenty of batteries.
While traversing the show I’ll make sure I have comfy shoes, a few snacks to keep me going, plenty of water and some paracetamol to offset the inevitable con crud that will gunk me up come home time and – fingers crossed – I should be good to go.
Previous Celebrations: Celebration Orlando (2017) and heading to Celebration Chicago (2019)
Celebration Orlando was my very first Celebration and I learned a lot! Portable chargers are really important. I brought two to Orlando and I generally used both each day because I was taking so many videos and pictures! I also brought a small backpack, which was handy to keep my snacks, water, and other essentials. And essentials are key!
Any medicine you may take, protein bars, crackers, water… Water, water, water! It is so important to hydrate. Bring a water bottle that is plastic and has a tightly sealed lid.
If you are someone who plans on buying stuff, you may want to consider bringing a bigger bag as long as it follows the convention guidelines. You may also consider spreading out your purchases so that you’re not hauling a ton of stuff back to your hotel at the end of the day. Most likely you’ll be bringing your phone, so bring the Celebration app too! It will absolutely help with planning your day.
Also, make sure you have important numbers in your phone: the people you are staying with, your bank and credit card company (in case you lose or have issues with your card), and your hotel. And your ID, insurance cards, etc… It never hurts to be extra prepared!
Previous Celebrations: Celebration Europe(London) (2016)
There is never too much preparation for any event, so organisation is they key. For me, the planning starts way in advance – determine a list of things you want to see and do, but bear in mind that it may not all be possible. One of the things you will realise is that even if you’re attending the convention every day, there will be clashes between stages, appearances and panels that mean it is physically impossible to do everything – so don’t be surprised if your ‘must see’ guest is signing at a time that means you miss a panel. And be prepared for your plans to change – you may find your chosen panels are full (or you don’t win the ‘lottery’) or you meet some new friends and go along with their plans.
I like to draw up lists of things (mainly coz I’m so forgetful) so again, in advance, I’ll check the schedules and exhibitor lists for things I really want to see or visit and try and plan when I can do them, when I need to be queuing etc and draw up a timetable (as well as having the official app to remind you of panels etc). I also do trip and daily packing lists – nothing worse than getting to the convention centre only to find you’ve left something back at your hotel – so a checklist for your daily requirements is really useful (especially later in the convention when your lack of sleep and excitement levels mean you’re not thinking straight).
As everyone else has said, battery packs for phones, cameras and the like, comfortable clothing (especially shoes), and a drinks bottle – make sure you keep this topped up as you’ll be surprised how time flies and you realise you’re getting dehydrated. Also make sure you spend some time when you get to the convention centre to orientate yourself – get maps via the app etc but get a printed guide – it’ll save your battery life and you just know your phone will die at the most in opportune moment, so be sure to have a backup. Key things are knowing where the food and drink outlets, toilets, information points, meeting points etc are.
And although the old saying ‘when going to a convention, pack your case, arrange your money, then take half the clothes and twice the money’ may be true, be sure to set your budget and stick to it – remember Celebrations are great and it’s easy to get caught up in the euphoria of it all, but if that means you’re going to struggle to pay the bills when you get back then it could leave you in a bad place.
Also be sure you know the regular prices for that must have item. Remember that with a ‘captive’ audience it’s very easy for some traders to push their prices up, so know what is a fair price and be prepared to haggle if you think something is overpriced – but equally don’t expect dealer to match prices in discount stores.
Above all else, ENJOY yourself! Remember it’s called Celebration for a reason, it’s a chance for you to meet new people (including the lovely Fantha Tracks team) and generally revel in the experience of being a Star Wars fan.