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May 7th 2018 saw the 11th annual SWFFD (Star Wars Fan Fun Day) as Burnley FC’s Turf Moor stadium. For 24 hours, the home of the English Premier League’s 2018 surprise package becomes a mecca for Star Wars fans for a brilliant show put together by fans Neil Livesey, Paul Dunne and countless others.

The show has a mixture of trade stands, fundraising stalls, costume and prop displays and of course the chance to meet stars from the galaxy far, far away. It was preceded on the Sunday evening by a charity gala dinner where the guests mingled with fans and an auction of signed memorabilia was held, before fellow Fantha Tracker, the Dark Lord himself Darth Elvis played a storming set to the assembled masses.

Fantha Tracks was out in force, meeting fans and guests, promoting the site and what we do and getting content for the site and upcoming podcasts. With so many people there on the day everyone has a different tale to tell, so we thought we’d all share our take on the event.

Mark Newbold

Wow, where do I start? Not only is Star Wars Fan Fun Day (SWFFD) one of the best run events on the convention calendar but without doubt it’s one of the warmest, friendliest and most easy-going shows out there, ranking right alongside Farthest From as a place for Star Wars fans to congregate and share their love of the saga.

This year was no exception as the eleventh running of the show brought thousands of fans, beautiful weather and some cracking guests to Burnley FC. We had folks from Rogue One, the sequel trilogy, the prequels, the original trilogy, Solo….you name it, your favourite Star Wars film had an actor in attendance. Between us, myself and Paul Naylor grabbed face time with every guest and you’ll start hearing the fruits of that when Fantha Tracks Radio launches next week with the first episode of our bi-weekly flagship show Making Tracks, featuring our exclusive interview with Rogue One director Gareth Edwards.

But SWFFD isn’t just about the guests, it’s about the camaraderie. This was my 4th time at the show and while every visit has brought fun, laughs, a few beers and lots of stories, 2018 was the cream of the crop – where else would you find a human-sized Porg running about taking photo’s with George Roubicek?

Or the star of The Force Awakens, Constable Zuvio, having his photo taken with Neil Livesey, one of the event organisers?

Check out our social media feeds for many more images from Burnley, stay tuned this week for the launch of Fantha Tracks Radio and block out this weekend next year to get up, down or across to Burnley for SWFFD 2019. We’ll be there – we wouldn’t miss it!

Greig Robertson

Darth Elvis & The Imperials had the HOT DANG honour of playing at this year’s Dinner with the Stars! After the lovely dinner and fantastic conversation with our Star Wars guest Andrew Jack (Dialect coach/General Ematt), we took to the stage for an hour of music and even had a guest appearance from the star of The Force Awakens, Constable Zuvio. This has been a show on the Dark King’s bucket list for quite some time so it was a privilege to perform.
The next morning was the day of the big show itself and unfortunately due to Imperial work commitments, we didn’t have much time to spend at the event but we made the most of the time we had. After an early start to set up the Fantha Tracks table and my first event as a Fantha Tracker (proud moment!), the King made his way to the autograph hall! I firstly caught up again with Andrew Jack and had a General Ematt picture signed, then thanked him again for his fantastic tales from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade through to The Last Jedi the night before.
Next up was Rusty Goffe who had been fantastic helping with the auctions at the dinner and had the King in stitches! Rusty signed an Oompa Loompa picture for my family – all future Sith I might add.  Kiran Shah who was at the Fantha Tracks table at Dinner with the Stars was my next target and I was not disappointed to meet this fine gentleman who was very complimentary about the band which made my day. As a huge fan of The Last Jedi, I had to meet Katy Kartwheel who played a Caretaker in the film and she was lovely. Cough cough, in my best Grievous voice, “your autographs will make a fine addition to my collection.”
The stalls had an amazing selection of vintage toys, pop vinyl, original art, autographs and new toys from Solo: A Star Wars Story and the Black Series and my Imperial brother Captain Pete made a few essential purchases. After a hunt for some Zuvio figures we returned to the Fantha table to say our goodbyes before hitting the road home. SWFFD is an incredible event, smoothly run with very helpful friendly staff and always has a great lineup of Star Wars actors. What makes this event for me are the friends old and new you meet when attending and this year was no exception, it was a pleasure to see everyone and next year I’ll be sticking around longer!

Clair Henry

This was the family Henry’s first visit to Star Wars Fan Fun Day and it certainly won’t be the last!

What a great way to kick off the event by having the Dinner with the Stars the night before. We were sat together as one big Fantha Family along with Kiran Shah who played Teedo in The Force Awakens among other things. He happily chatted away about his job and the many roles he played! A true gentleman!

As for the big day itself I was very excited as it was my first official event promoting Fantha Tracks. The Fantha table was great fun and lots of children including my own enjoyed the jedi challenges we presented them with!With my new shirt on I chatted to so many people their love of Star Wars it was such an honour and pleasure to do this! There are a lot of people walking off with a picture of my back to remind them of Fantha Tracks. 

It truly is a fun day, my daughter was in her element and fleeced us of all money we had ! Her favourites were the charity tombola and shoot the trooper and Jawa! I know that the Henrys will be back again at this family friendly event and I would recommend other families to do the same!

Brian Cameron

There is always a lovely casual vibe to Star Wars Fan Fun Day that appeals to the families.  Hitting that note is not an easy task but Neil, Paul and their team work their backsides off to deliver each and every year.  But they never stand still and this year they changed things up again, and with a host of unique signing guests, stands, games, photo ops, and challenges they topped it again.

It was a lot of fun to be there as part of the Fantha Tracks team where we tried to offer something a little different – some vintage gaming, a skills challenge based around the Solo film and a LEGO speed build.

There was also a wonderful dinner the evening before the main event day where it was great to sit back and relax with a wonderful meal, drink and terrific Star Wars company.  Roll on next year.

Paul Naylor

I love this event. Last year I attended my first SWFFD in Burnley, and there was no way I wouldn’t be at the 2018 get together.

No less than 10 Fanthas made their way to Burnley FC’s football ground for another superb selection of Star Wars goodness.

Many of the assembled Fanthas attended Dinner With The Stars. Held the night prior to SWFFD, it gave punters the chance to share a table and stories with a star from the saga. Kiran Shah, Teedo in The Force Awakens, was our guest of honour.

Guy Henry, Tarkin in Rogue One, came close to stealing the night for me. He was both generous with his time and during the charity auction.

But the big stars of the dinner were undoubtedly Darth Elvis and the Imperials. You simply MUST see their live show. Great musicians with a Star Wars twist.

The next day we returned from our Holiday Inn base to the stadium for the main event.

Highlights for us old uns include meeting and chatting with guests.

I interviewed Rusty Goffe who played a Jawa among other characters in the 1977 original; Paul Kasey – most notably Admiral Raddus in Rogue One; and Simon Williamson who portrayed Max Rebo in Return of the Jedi as well as other characters.

The enduring appeal of Star Wars is never more palpable than when guests get to relay their fond memories of the small role they played in transporting us to a galaxy far, far away.

Listen out for my interviews with Rusty, Paul and Simon on Making Tracks which launches soon on Fantha Tracks Radio.

For me, other than meeting stars of the silver screen – and my good buddies from Fantha Tracks – it is always nice to see the merchandise (old and new) available from dealers on the day.

Plenty of Solo items were in stock, but it’s the wonderful Palitoy and Kenner lines from 1978 to 1985 that send me back to my childhood in an instant. Happy days.

There were plenty of cosplayers parading the floors, including Chewie, Fett, pesky Jawas, Rebel Commandos/Pilots and a host of Imperial forces.

But my fave had to be the wonderfully imaginative Porg costume – modelled by my good buddy Dave Tree.

Unlikely to be accepted by any discerning cosplay group, I was assured by its wearer that the costume was assembled from a Penguin fancy dress outfit, customised with many embellishments – including eyes made from a lady’s bra!!!

Matt Booker

Star Wars Fan Fun Day is a total gem on the annual event calendar. The show has a great turnout with lots of families and fans of all ages enjoying Star Wars.

There was a superb lineup of guests, all enjoying themselves and having lots of fun.  All of them were up for a photo with our Porg, who was a special guest there. It went down really well with the fans.

Check out our live stream shot at the show which gives you a good idea of our table at the show as well as the other stands in the main hall.

If you’ve not been before then make sure you attend next year, it’s well worth it.

Carl Bayliss

After a pitstop at Echo Base in Burntwood to pick up Mark, we headed north to Burnley to meet our fellow Trackers and make ourselves look beautiful before Dinner with the Stars (note to self – set off earlier next time 😉 ).

Our hotel was also home to several of the guests for the weekend, so we managed a quick hello before heading off to the meal, where we got our first glimpse of some of the brave troopers and cosplayers outside the ground. And a first for me, I was asked if they could have a picture with me!!! (I was sporting this rather fetching Opposuit TK421 suit which obviously impressed Lord Vader and his entourage).

Inside and we got to browse the lots for the silent auction which had been donated by some of the guests or those that couldn’t make it but wanted to support the event. Making our way to our table (there were enough of us to have a Fantha Tracks table!!) we met Kiran Shah who was the “lucky” star who was landed with us for the evening. Following some chat and pictures, and a rather nice meal, the main auction started, hosted quite admirably by Rusty Goffe who succeeded in raising lots of money for charity (a portion of which came from the wallet of Guy Henry).

Next up was Darth Elvis & The Imperials – a true treat for Star Wars fans, and if you’ve not encountered them yet in your local cantina, head over to their website for a taste and to find out where you can catch them. A rocking set brought the evening to a close and we headed back to the hotel to rest up before the bumper day ahead of us.

Making our way back to Turf Moor we set about rigging our stand for the day – a mixture of information about Fantha Tracks, a couple of sideshow games for the younger attendees (or the young at heart) including the ever popular Lego speed building challenge and Kessel Run, and some retro Star Wars video games to play – one parent quipped we were like a child-minding service allowing them to go off and check out the traders!

Save for a couple of forays in to the trading area and a particularly fruitful trip to the tombola I spent much of the day on the stand, running the Lego building and answering question on who we were, what we do etc. The team pulled together a great stand and people were very complimentary about our stand, the site and our content – and our lovely new team shirts.

But finally the event drew to a close and we packed up and went our separate ways. It’s only a few days on and I’m already starting to miss everyone and the team spirit, so here’s to next time.