What: Fantasy Fair
Where: Arcen castle gardens, Arcen, The Netherlands
When: September 19 – 20 2015
Price: varied, depending on the formula
Just like previous editions of this event, this year’s Elfia Arcen was a fun, varied and diverse fair. I’m using the term fair, because whilst it is in theory a fantasy fair, in reality it has surpassed that label significantly by the sheer diversity of it’s program. They don’t just cater to fantasy fans, but also to fans of sci-fi, pop culture, J-culture and history, which makes that Elfia appeals to pretty much everyone.
Just by looking at the program, you can see how varied the event really is, and the map/program combo you are given at the entrance definitely helps you navigate the vast and beautiful grounds of Arcen castle, that are in its design just as diverse as the event held there, going from beautiful rose gardens, lakes and ponds, the Asian garden, playground, woods and indoor koi pond (the area that traditionally houses the sci-fi section of the event).
The location definitely adds to the overall feel and atmosphere of Elfia.
This year it felt like there was less roaming entertainment present, but the key to that phrase of course is roaming, and it is undoubtedly so that we simply didn’t pass as many entertainers en route like we did previous edition, because looking at the program, they were there. In any case there was something to see and do around every corner: petting tame owls; watching the many costumed visitors, because Elfia remains one of the places to be to see magnificent ones; join a workshop or a lecture or simply enjoy browsing the many stands.
Whilst many costumes are absolutely amazing, it is often quite daunting or hard, not to mention impossible, to properly admire and photograph them because so many photographers are already hoarded around people. Especially on main roads this can be quite impractical because they clog up the passage. This year it was much better than last year, due to the event having tried to widen the roads as much as possible, but it was often still utterly impossible to get a shot in, especially now most people have a smart phone with good camera. It was alright on the fields, but on the smaller roads it could be quite troublesome. I’m starting to think the event needs designated photo stops along roads where people can stop and pose and photos can be taken without hindering people trying to simply walk by.
For those wanting to shop, the fair definitely had plenty of things on offer, catering to pretty much any fantasy or pop culture need and several subcultures such as Goth and steampunk whilst at it. Prices of course varied from perfectly reasonable to very much overpriced, as is the thing with events.
What was affordable, however, is most food, especially compared to other events, and there was a wide variety of food to be found across Elfia. Whilst most food stands were together in the same area, there were other stands spread out also. Also, whilst it seemed like picnic space was limited, we had no issue at all finding a free picnic table to eat our packed lunch.
There is very little negative to be said for the event, there are tons of different things to see and do. And whilst they always have a theme, they are very mindful to incorporate it, but not let it overtake the entire event, so that people that want to stick to it can participate to the fullest, but those that don’t care for it aren’t bothered with it. Which is the best approach to these things really.
The forecast had sadly predicted rain, and the organisation had come prepared by putting as many stands as possible along the existing paths and widening several of their usual improvised ones. That in itself is a good thing because it minimises getting muddy to a big degree. But sadly when the downpour started, places to shelter were limited, leaving quite a few people out in the rain to get soaked. There is of course nothing to be done about the weather, but maybe it’s a good idea to set up shelter tents next edition. If it turns out to be boiling hot like it did last year they’ll be good for a spot of rest in the shade too, so they’ll be a win-win situation in any case.
Rain aside, Elfia Arcen was tremendously enjoyable this year, and even with the absence of a proper steampunk area, the only steampunk things about were some sellers and the steam pop machine, I have never seen quite that many steampunks at Elfia before and the turn out for the steampunk group shot was quite significant, even in the rain. Which just proves that even without a steampunk area, it’s a fab event for ‘punk. That aside, it would of course be great if the proper steampunk section would be back next year on a little field of its own.
So despite of getting pretty wet (even though we did pack umbrellas), we had a great time at another splendid edition of Elfia, and look forward to next year’s, which will hopefully take place in better weather, or have more places to hide from the rain.
As always, we took more photos, which you can see here. Sadly the weather ruined the opportunity to take more though.
And this is the link to the photos of Clara Lina Wirz, one of our Gatehouse and Clockworker colleagues, so you can see even more photos from the event!
Group shots by Tom.