When: October 19 – 20
What: Pop culture convention
Where: Flanders Expo – Ghent – Belgium
Ticket price: varied, depending on the formula
The past edition was a major anniversary for FACTS as the convention was celebrating it’s 20th anniversary. Their website and on site brochure promised a lot of fun, ranging from workshops to lectures, meet and greet with famous people from movie and art industry, a cosplay competition, gaming area, etc, …
In short: plenty of things to see and do and if you had spare cash to in your wallet: a wide variety of vendors to spend said money.
Where FACTS had originally been pretty limited when it came to entertainment and shops (generally the things on sale were all very fandom flavour of the month). This year they had done their utmost to get some new things there. To the point where people event started wondering why some things were even being sold there at all as they had nothing to do with asiamania, sci-fi or fantasy at all.
As usual there was a cosplay competition, which only happened on the Saturday. To compensate for that it lasted a whopping three hours to give all participants time to show their creation on stage and do their thing. Sadly, once again, it was far too loud and it completely ruined the Little Japan section which was right around the corner from it.
With a program like that you’d think that the convention would be absolutely awesome (the noise of the cosplay competition aside).
And it could have been great. Were it not for the nearly subtropical temperature inside and the absolute mass of people in most of the hallways.
The temperature at FACTS has been a bit of a complaint for many years, but this year it was simply ridiculous, not to mention unhealthy.
Add to that that drinks are sold at a ridiculously high price (same as the food) and you know that there’s a problem going on.
Temperature control is something that the organisation seriously needs to start doing. I know several people that had to leave the con simply due to the combination of heat and crowdedness, and surely, chasing people out asap can’t be the goal of any convention.
You are allowed to bring your own food and drink, but with a heat like that, people will likely want something cool and fresh, and the extortionate prices were just taking the mickey.
But this isn’t just an issue at FACTS, it’s a problem at pretty much every convention in Belgium (there are exeptions such as Antwerp Con of course).
It’s definitely not that FACTS didn’t try, but the crowds and infernal heat just really put a damper on the fun.
There were a few lanes where you could move relatively well, all completely at the back of the con but at most it was nigh impossible to move about, let alone properly see or photograph what was going on.
As for steampunk. As always there were quite a few steampunks present, although I had the impression that there were maybe less than last year. Although with the press of the crowd it was hard to say.
Basically, if you were there to shop or to hang out with friends, it was probably ranging from alright to awesome if the heat and crowdedness didn’t bother you.
If you wanted an opportunity to costume, this was also pretty good, again if you weren’t bothered by heat and crowdedness. There was a wide variety of skill and originality involved in the costumes I saw, but there were some truly epic ones present.
If you were looking for a fun and laid back convention, this simply wasn’t the one.
And I know that it’s a bit not done to say it, but I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway: FACTS is basically still going on name and fame and it feels that whilst they do the efford of presenting a good program, they go ahead and ruin it by allowing far too many people inside the con and turning on the heat up to hotter than hell.
Changes need to be made to make this an enjoyable convention again. I get that they want to make money and remain the biggest, but there’s more to it than selling out, and it feels like selling out is exactly what they’re doing right now.
You can find more photos in this set.