Last weekend was the 25th edition of one the bigger comics, sci-fi and anime festivals of Europe and I had the chance to go there. According to their site 40,000 people visit each year! Let me tell you: it was awesome! A friend of my boyfriend was an exhibitor at FACTS and we were both able to tag along to assist with his booth. Beforehand I was doubting whether or not to go but I am glad I went because it was an amazing experience.
First of all, let me shortly explain what FACTS is. FACTS is an expo held each year somewhere in Belgium (although they mostly set up shop in Ghent) somewhere in September/October. This year’s edition took place in The Loop Expo in Ghent. In a big hall dozens of exhibitors set up shop with fantasy, sci-fi, anime related products. There were booths with Manga and Anime books and items, booths that sold superhero statues, games and costumes but also comic book artists and painters. In short, everything you can imagine related to television, movies and comics. This convention is definitely big. In between helping at the booth I had quite some time to wander around and explore which kept me busying for a couple of hours. I was just so fascinated by all the things for sale! Most things are also available online but here people could see and touch things, ask questions and shop directly from the vendors. Personally I did not buy a lot (although I wanted to!) but I did grab some business cards as most vendors also have physical or online stores.
Even while helping at the booth there was enough for me to see: so many people were in costume! FACTS offers a discount to anyone who turns up in cosplay: tickets are €4 cheaper. I really like this, as visitors are actively encouraged to dress up! And the best thing is that it works: lost of people came in cosplay. Some people merely threw on a red t-shirt and a red cap with an M but others wore very elaborate costumes. Superheroes/villains were particularly popular; I have seen many Batman’s, Poison Ivy’s, Harley Quinn’s and Joker’s but at other times it was almost as if I was wandering the hallways of Hogwarts. I saw horcrux necklaces, wands and robes!
I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere of the convention. Everybody seemed to be really comfortable. I haven’t seen a single instance of judgment or negativity. For some people conventions like this are the only place where they can truly be themselves and I am happy that all people there accepted one another. There was no pushing and shoving, people were complimenting each other’s outfits and there was just a general positive vibe. Even if you aren’t that much of a sci-fi or fantasy fan it is still fun to go to a convention like FACTS. It is almost like a different world and when you are open to it you can find some new stuff to like and make plenty of friends!
Movie and television show fans will also have a great time: this year there were several noteworthy guests! Among which were Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown from Back to the Future), Summer Glau (actress known for her role in Firefly and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), John Rhyss-Davies (Gimli from Lord of the Rings) and Alfie Allen who portrays Theon Greyjoy in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Fans had the opportunity to have a picture taken with their favorite actor. There were also some great props from famous movies such as one of the Batmobile and Back to the Future’s Delorean! I think that the guests and props are a great initiative but here I have to voice some of my criticism for this convention. To get the guests FACTS probably paid quite some money. Their fees are (I suspect) largely paid by the tickets visitors have to buy to be able to take a photo. A photo with for example Christopher Lloyd set you back €25 (€15 for a selfie) and Doc Brown and DeLorean cost a whooping €60. Yes, there were many people willing to pay that kind of money but still it seems steep. Food and drinks were also overpriced but I think you were able to bring your own food if you wanted to so that at least is your own decision!
For myself I bought a couple of Pop Funko’s, which are vinyl figures based on games, comics, tv-series and movies. For now they are still in the boxes (as we plan on moving in a couple of months), but I can’t wait to display them. Baymax is a large figure and he is super cute! I also bought a couple of smaller figures: Hermione from Harry Potter, White Lantarn Batman and Daenerys in her wedding dress.
Either way, FACTS has much more pro’s than con’s. It was great to experience this and I will definitely go again in the future. But first up is Dutch Comic Con in March 2016. Hopefully that will be just as great as this was!