Tuesday, 14 October 2014

UK PonyCon 2014 report

My haul from UK PonyCon 2014
My haul of ponyana from the con. Not bad for one day!
Well, things didn't go quite to plan as far as UK PonyCon was concerned. Ill health meant that I was only able to attend on the Saturday, but I still had a very good time. I'd go so far as to say that it might even have been more enjoyable than BUCK – and that takes some doing! Certainly, if this convention is held somewhere I can easily get to next year, there's a very good chance that I'll try to get myself there.

The venue for this con was the Mercure "The Grand" Hotel in the middle of Leicester. I hugely prefer city-centre locations, as being able to walk from the station, or nip out to the pub for lunch is great. (On that last note, "The Last Plantagenet" was about 50 yards away. Perfect!) The venue was really nice, a posh four-star Victorian place with a sense of character and presence sorely lacking in the big boxy exhibition hall that was Manchester Central.

As an all-gens affair with a strong base of collectors, unsurprisingly there were a lot of vendor stalls. The range was much wider than at BUCK, and prices were generally quite reasonable by con standards. The main hall was home to both the vendors and the main stage, so it did get very crowded on occasion, most notably during the cosplay catwalk. For the most part, though, I thought it was nice that the vendors weren't tucked away from the main con action.

The atmosphere was lovely. Seriously, I was blown away by it. Immensely friendly, warm, welcoming and inclusive. A huge range of attendees, from little kids with their parents right up to pensioners. The bronies, collectors and families all rubbed along well, and I didn't hear one single complaint from one group about another the entire day. It may have been slightly understaffed, but despite this the con people remained unfailingly helpful and polite.

This year's theme was "Ponies Rock!" and live music was provided by The Rainbooms, an (actually rather good) rock band formed by several of the staff members. We had the FiM theme, "Sweet Music" from G1 Tales, "Babs Seed" and the inevitable (though still welcome!) "Helping Twilight Win the Crown". There was maybe a little too much recorded music at other times, though, which did make one or two conversations with stall-holders awkward.

I only attended one panel, "G1 for Bronies, G4 for Oldies", but that was very well presented: the person doing it was easily heard and seen even at the back of the room. She also very calmly and pleasantly nipped in the bud a potentially tiresome and rather esoteric discussion between two audience members about IP. I didn't actually go to the karaoke, though, as they hadn't really got their mics and speakers working well.

The only real criticism I'd make, other than the crowding, was that some people paying cash on the day seemed to be allowed to go in before those of us who'd pre-booked tickets. We'd been told this wouldn't happen, and it was disappointing. But otherwise, UK PonyCon 2014 was a really excellent convention. An easy 9/10 and I would love to have been able to have stayed for the whole weekend. Maybe next time!


  1. That sounds like a really enjoyable and well run convention. I regret not going now.

    1. To be fair, it does seem that Saturday daytime was the best period: the Sunday schedule was apparently a little on the thin side. But what I did experience was indeed really enjoyable, and UK PonyCon is currently in pole position as far as my potential conning for 2015 goes!