Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 - Star Wars, Fandom and Cosplay

SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 - Star Wars, Fandom and Cosplay

Share on Reddit

Even before I got off the Underground train that stopped at the ExCel Centre last Friday morning, the range of Star Wars costumes was a wondrous sight. Most clearly visible and notable to me, two girls dressed as Rey: The first was probably in her mid-teens; the second likely no older than seven. Many more followed across the weekend, far too many to keep track of even by lunchtime on the opening day, cosplayers ranging from girls as young as the one I saw on the train to fully grown women, almost certainly approaching or older than 40. It typifies the state of fandom in 2016, and shows exactly how impactful George Lucas’ creation has become.

Star Wars Celebration, a gathering for fans of the series, first took place in 1999 to celebrate the upcoming release of The Phantom Menace. (Given the wide backlash to the first prequel, calling it a “celebration” doesn’t sit very well in retrospect.) First held at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver, Colorado, ten have occurred since, with hosting locations mostly set in the United States, but the event has previously been to Japan and Germany. The 11th edition, held at the ExCel Centre in London this past weekend, is the second time it has been to the venue, after arriving there in 2007.

Since Star Wars debuted in 1977, following the series has become a way of life for many. Look no further than the event itself, bringing together fans from across the globe: A handful of attendees resided from, respectfully, North America, Eastern Europe, Australia, East Asia. If you name a country, chances are there was a fan or ten from there at Celebration. People from far and wide had spent a lot of money to come to this thing, to revel in the joy of experiencing anything and everything Star Wars with hundreds of thousands of other fans. And make no mistake: There were certainly hundreds of thousands of them. At one point, looking into the main concourse of the ExCel became daunting as a sea of people filled the entire floor, the thought of attempting to walk through it terrifying.

A lot of people like Star Wars, it seems. Who knew? Its grasp reaches all over the world and Celebration provides an opportunity for those fans to come together and express their adoration as one.

If you’ve ever been to any sort of convention, you’ll know that those in costumes heavily populate the collection of fans, and Celebration was no different. Such is the vast nature of the Star Wars world, from the current canon to the Expanded Universe no longer considered so, that as someone whose knowledge of the universe is almost exclusively restricted to the live-action movies, the number of costumes that I didn’t even vaguely recognise is innumerable. And yet, I would bet good money that there were a significant number of people in attendance who could have given the names and backstories and appearances of every single one of them. We’re now in a world where this is not only accepted, but where it is embraced and events like this are held for these superfans, and that’s a great time to be in.

Indeed, there are some extremely devoted individuals out there who love this franchise incredibly. I overheard one fan discussing with her friend about previous Celebrations (specifically, the conversation was about the bag check that everyone entering the convention had to go through, and how there have been scares in years gone by): This particular fan mentioned having been to most of the Celebrations, but couldn’t work out which ones she’d missed, leading to a moment of doubt over if she’d actually missed one.

Clearly, Star Wars had impacted on that individual. Another, making his first appearance at Celebration, had dressed as Kylo Ren. The reason for the choice? His friends had frequently told him that he looked similar. That was certainly true. Star Wars has relentlessly invaded pop culture to the point where any exploration of the social media portion of the internet will likely result in coming across a reference. It’s inescapable.

The infatuation with cosplay, which has slowly been building since the 90s, culminates in massive events like this. There is no better opportunity to display your ability to morph into a beloved character than to do it amongst hundreds of thousands of fellow fans, many of whom are doing the same thing. (The odd costume from another property added a spark of variety and amusement to the whole thing.) Part of the art is adopting the mannerisms of the character they’re dressed as. That aforementioned Kylo Ren was, at one point, taunted by another fan who repeatedly called out “Ben Solo”. Others in the same costume were, on occasion, told by Han Solo or Princess/General Leia cosplayers to “go to your room.” There were lightsabre duels between Jedi and Sith. Imperial Stormtroopers who accompanied Darth Vader around the Centre. Temporary recreations of specific scenes from movies, including a young girl dressed as an Ewok encountering an Endor Leia, and an oddly creepy costume of Yoda on Luke’s shoulders from The Empire Strikes Back. It was difficult not to marvel at the sight of all this; the lengths to which these fans go to for a like-for-like recreation of their favourite characters - and, by extension, moments - is astounding.

As is the depth and breadth of memorabilia, most of which usually mundane and generic, on display that can be moulded around Star Wars. It starts out quite obvious: T-shirts, hoodies, and other clothing displaying the logo or recognisable aspect from the series; toys modelled on characters and vehicles and locations. Books that expand the universe, or simply inform on any or all aspects of it. Games, both “ordinary” and LEGO (*). POP Vinyl figures, card games, miscellaneous collectibles. Anything you can possibly imagine, right down to tattoos. Any and all types of product have been engulfed by Star Wars, and it’s both incredible and scary to see the influence it’s had on the world.

(*) I’ve always loved the LEGO games based on the series, and the latest release for The Force Awakens is a fantastic game. I completed it earlier this week, and it’s a whole lot of fun.

But the love for Star Wars has become multi-generational since its release in 1977, spanning at least 60 years’ worth of people. It’s such a powerhouse of a series that you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who knows absolutely nothing about it. Fans were captivated by A New Hope; their youngers introduced to the original trilogy along with the prequels. Now, with the new set of films - The Force Awakens, Rogue One, Episodes VIII and IX, the Han Solo solo feature - comes the opportunity for a new generation of fans to rise. I was just shy of a year old when The Phantom Menace was released, and six when Revenge of the Sith hit the big screen, even then unaware of the whole thing. I’ve no real recollection of when I first got into it, though it was certainly in the Episode III direction of 2010.

Despite that, it is the new films that will become ‘my’ Star Wars films (fans of Doctor Who will be familiar with that turn of phrase) and so getting to experience Celebration in the midst of them all is a terrific pleasure. Irrespective of whichever films are ‘yours’, the elation gained from attending Celebration is like no other; to share in appreciating one of the most popular franchises of all time is an honour. Those who were at the ExCel last weekend were sure to have had one of the experiences of a lifetime, and even more will get the chance when Celebration hits Anaheim in April 2017.

About the Author - Bradley Adams
17 year old based in England, currently Senior Staff at SpoilerTV. Most of his posts are news/spoiler based, though he is currently the reviewer of Person of Interest, co-host on the SpoilerTV Podcast. Created and is in charge of the yearly Favourite Episode Competition and currently runs the Favourite Series Competition. A big TV fan, his range of shows are almost exclusively dramas, while some of his all-time favourite shows include 24, LOST, Breaking Bad and Friends. Some of his current favourites include Person of Interest, Banshee, Arrow, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul and many more. He also runs an Arrow fans site, ArrowFansUK, and aside from TV, is a keen cricketer. Get in touch with him via the links below or via email
Recent Reviews (All Reviews)

Sign Up for the SpoilerTV Newsletter where we talk all things TV!


SpoilerTV Available Ad-Free!

Support SpoilerTV is now available ad-free to for all subscribers. Thank you for considering becoming a SpoilerTV premmium member!
Latest News