It is hard to believe it has been seven years since Star Wars Celebration Europe (SWCE) was last in England. But over the long Easter weekend, the SWCE returned to ExCel London. For three of the four days, we were there.
SWCE is always a memorial experience, but I remember a few negatives from last time. Firstly, a lot of queuing. Secondly a lack of places to eat. Thirdly, I still had FOMO, even though I was there. As the event is so big, you end up missing a lot of special moments.
The planning was vastly different this time. Instead of queuing for the big panels, now entry was via a lottery before the event. Likewise, you could apply for “lightning lane” passes into the Show Store and Funko Stall a week before. This cut down on queuing. But also meant we did not have to be at SWCE first thing every morning. I was also more organised this time and brought plenty of snacks! As for the FOMO, knowing we would not be in all the big panels. As well as only having tickets for three days, I knew I would not see everything and decided to go with the flow.
On the first day, we had to meet up with our friends, as I had all the tickets, which meant we were a little late getting into the venue. However, we took it easy in the morning, walking around the show floor and getting to terms with the layout. As we did not have tickets for the Lucasfilm panel, we streamed the panel whilst we ate lunch and got all the updates via social media! Then we stopped by the Celebration Live stage to see Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Mads Mikkelsen talking about Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. The rest of the afternoon was devoted to shopping. The Show Store queue was over two hours long, so we avoided that. Then it was a chance to spend time catching up with more friends.
On Saturday, our first stop was the Show Store. That morning, the queue was seemed shorter, so we did not mind the wait. I brought a lot of t-shrt, and was a disappointed that I could not find a cardigan in my size. After shopping, we arranged to meet some other friends. This was really just a chat comparing our purchases from the store. I realised I had missed a whole section in the store! In the afternoon, I had arranged to meet some online friends at the Ahsoka Lives meet-up. The meet-up was breathtaking, and Ashley Eckstein’s words made me cry! As we had some free time, we returned to the Show Store (the queue was even shorter this time). As soon as we got in the store, I found the cardigan I wanted in my size, and the other things I wanted.
On our final day, Sunday. We started in the late morning and did some last-minute shopping, checking out the artist alley and tattoo pavilion. Then we meet up with friends for an early lunch. I had won tickets for the Obi-Wan Kenobi panel for the afternoon. The panel was a look back at the television show. Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen attended with Deborah Chow, Vivien Lyra Blair, and Indira Varma. I did not expect to cry during the panel, but reliving the memories of the programme played with my emotions.
In the afternoon, I helped my friend hand out some swag. It ended up being a great chance to meet with fans I knew online. Then we headed across the river to the O2 for This is Cantina. One of the things I was sad I missed at the last SWCE was seeing Ash perform. So this time I brought my tickets beforehand, so as not to miss out.
Ash are one of my favourite bands from my teenage life, part of the reason I loved them was all the Star Wars references in their music (their first album is even called 1977). Over the years, I have seen them perform numerous times. But without a doubt the most memorial gig. All through the set, scenes from the Star Wars movies and programmes were projected in the background. They played a version of The Cantina Band theme, an Ewok joined in the drums. It was the perfect ending to our SWCE weekend.