In August, it was announced that Sci-Fi Weekender (SFW) would be leaving its venue near Pwllheli, due to circumstances beyond their control. Since then, the organisers have been scouring the UK for a new location that can meet the various demands of such a multi-facetted event.
Rather than a signing convention, SFW is more akin to a festival. Until recently, SFW called Haven’s Hafan y Mor holiday park home. However, building work was rescheduled by Haven, which resulted in the caravan park no longer being available for the March event. This left the organisers with the herculean task of finding a new venue, for their tenth anniversary, with six months before it was scheduled to be held.
“You do not conjure up a holiday park that sleeps 6,000 people overnight,” explains Jonni Davis, CEO of Chic Festivals, the organisers of SFW. “We went out to fourteen different parks, which was a massive job. They were all over the country and we wanted to understand the attitude of the management and to meet the cleaners and bar staff. I wanted to see the facilities and how easy it is to get there.”
One of the greatest challenges in finding a suitable venue was date availability. SFW has booked a significant number of special guests who will be flying in from across the globe and – until recently – seemingly had nowhere to go.
After visiting many sites, one particular resort stood out. A 5-star holiday park resort that has facilities that Chic feel could only enhance this science fiction festival. “There was only one that ticked the box for us,” says Davis. “For when we do the next generation, I want it to be even better.”
However, there is one slight snag; the date.
More than anything else Chic did not want to cancel their tenth anniversary and not share the celebrations of this auspicious occasion with the attendees who help make this happen each year. Instead, to resolve the date challenge, Chic have decided that SFW-X will become two events. “It is our tenth anniversary, so let us give people a double-experience,” says Davis. “We do a party, as scheduled, but let us go to another dimension. We are going to do the most rockest night-time entertainment ever.”
SFW-X: Part 1 will be held on the original weekend at the o2 Academy in Sheffield, on Friday 29th March and Saturday 30th March. All of the original headliners (Christopher Judge and Brian Blessed) for these dates will be there, along with the unique SFW entertainment that we have grown to know and love, such as Doctor and the Medics.
SFW-X: Part 2 will take place at Vauxhall holiday park near Great Yarmouth on Thursday 31st October 2019 until Sunday 3rd November 2019. This date change will be unique for this year and SFW will revert back to being held in the usual period in March from 2020, but at the new venue.
Part 2 will be the full-blown geek camp experience, incorporating the SFW Awards, with a new programme of entertainment to make SFW worthy of their new destination. “This is purposeful built for entertainment,” says Davis. “We are even going to open the swimming pool for something unbelievably cool, which has never been done before.”
All passes and accommodation bookings will be transferred and honoured to the new site for SFW-X: Part 2. However, as a thank you to their fans, all ticket-holders will receive a free weekend pass to SFW-X: Part I in Sheffield, based on what they booked for SFW-X originally.
Furthermore, as Chic are aware that SFW fans often also support their live events at HRH, they are also offering free passes to either HRH Blues, HRH Prog, HRH CROWS, HRH Metal or HRH Road Trip Ibiza.
“People have birthdays and look forward to Christmas, with presents and wrapping paper” concludes Davis. “Great Yarmouth is in wrapping paper just now, and I am going to start unwrapping it a little bit at a time. What is actually inside the box, when we all get there, is going to blow them away.”