So thankfully the traffic wasn’t too bad on route to Pwllheli for this year’s Sci-Fi Weekender, the A55 seemed to be flowing OK so after leaving at around 10 am we arrived at Hafan y Mor for 11:15 am.

Booked ourselves in, grabbed the media and AAA passes and wristbands and headed over to the caravan to get settled in.

An Introduction to SFW8

An Introduction to SFW8

After setting in the idea was to get the on site WiFi and bring you all some exclusives via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, but sadly all that came to naught as the Hafan y Mor WiFi failed and wasn’t available, so sorry about that dear readers, but I did manage to get some stuff out at some point, so thanks for everyone that caught those.

Anywho dear readers and fellow weekenders, SFW8 was an extremely packed to the gills event with the schedules ram packed with so much to do, so this year I had to increase the crew for the event, with five of us geeking out with the schedule for this years coverage, which not only included photos but for a change a little bit if video to run along with this article (I’ll update the post as soon as I have that completed).

Cosplayer (Lisa Wright) at SFW8

As a matter of fact, the Weekender was so busy that I only managed to squeeze in one interview and that was with the brilliant and very lovely Gareth David Lloyd, in which we talked about Torchwood, his band and Twisted Showcase.

With so much happening over the three days I found myself trying to be as many places as I could and to try and cover as much as I could, but this was a task that found me thinking that I could really do with a clone of myself!

Sci-Fi Weekender Packed Out Nacelles!

When the schedule first arrived for the weekender I was blown away by how much the team had crammed into one weekend, this year saw the areas increase from 3 to 7! Plus the event wasn’t running alongside one of the HRH music events, which gave SFW8 the chance to expand and bring so much more to those weekenders that had been asking for more and boy did we all get more.

Doctor Strange (Alec Balding) and a Cyberman (Andrew Radmore) – Cosplayers at SFW8

With so much going on, it was really hard to catch everything, but that wasn’t a bad thing, some people have more of an interest in one thing than another so I would have to say that everyone had something that they could spend time with informative talks and interviews, signings, meet and greets, traders and artists, plus lets not forget about the fantastic cosplayers that had really surpassed themselves this year. These guys and gals just get more creative each year, with many working on their cosplay for 12 months just for this annual festival of everything Sci-Fi.

Awesome Cosplay at SFW8

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, back in 2013 when I first started doing SFW and shamingly called it a Comic Con (yes shame on me), the Sci-Fi Weekender is probably one of the biggest Sci-Fi festivals that pulls in thousands of people to spend 3 days in Pwllheli with like-minded people and to completely geek out with all the entertainment that the team behind the event give to us all.

At passed events, I’ve been known to get a couple of thousand photos, but this year with everything that was going on my photography was dramatically reduced by the fact that there was so much happening I wanted to see as much as I could, this year I also stepped into my first attempt at video, a rather daunting task that found me doing walk around and trying to get as much as I could while also armed with my DSLR slung around my next like some strange Sci-Fi based image collector!

Boogie Storm Open SFW8

The Opening Ceremony at SFW8 with Boogie Storm

Every year the opening show has always had me in awe, as Area 51 put on a stellar opening show, this year it was Boogie Storm that opened the event, with their dance routine to various tracks, but the thing that had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end was just before they came on the stage, as we were treated to some amazing Star Wars battle footage and soundtrack that added to the atmosphere, looking around the audience there were many that were having the same sensation of OMG this is amazing!

Imaginarium and The Dark Room

The Imaginarium at SFW8

Many of us that attend SFW love the Imaginarium, a collection of acts that entertain us for a couple of hours during the evening, this year saw the return of my good friend Chris Cross, it’s been four years since Chris was last at SFW and it was great to see him back on the stage and to see people’s faces as he dislocated his shoulder in his straight jacket act, there was also the guy that sings like a Dalek with saucepan on his head, a guy that played the theremin (don’t think that went down too well) and then there was John Robertson and The Dark Room!

Chris Cross returned to SFW8

Probably one of the big attractions was Chris Barrie in the Main Void as he packed out the area for his Q&A, talking about not only Red Dwarf, but also The Brittas Empire and the idea of a crossover between the two, he also had the audience of weekenders in fits of laughter while doing his voices, which included all the cast from Red Dwarf, an amazing Q&A to see and brilliant to see so many people in the Main Void to listen to his stories and then after seeing the rather large queue in the signing area.

Chris Barrie Signs Autographs at SFW8

A Who’s Who of Amazing Guests

This year’s Sci-Fi Weekender saw a great collection of Doctor Who guests such as Fraser Hines, Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso, who got together to re-enact the classic scene “The Opening of the Tombs“, in which the cybermen are unleashed upon the world and in the Timeport in Pwllheli. It was great to see this performed and to see so many people arriving to see this unmissable moment, this was a chance for Doctor Who fans to relive a time gone by from the classic days of the Doctor and his companions.

Sam Stone and David J Howe brought in some amazing others and guests at this year’s event, not only those I just mentioned about but also the amazing Peter Purves who many of you will know from Doctor Who and from Blue Peter, a lovely guy and someone that was very popular during the weekend. Sam and David’s Q&A are always interesting and fun to be at and this year, with the many that they were doing, also saw Darren Shan (author of the very popular book, Cirque Du Freak) chatting away with Sam and not only talking about his books but also giving some brilliant advice to would-be authors and at one point a teacher from the audience asking about his books being used in schools.

Sam Stone chats with Darren Shan at SFW8

Sam Stone chats with Darren Shan at SFW8

Along with Sam and David, we also had Professor Elemental taking to the stage again, not only for his brilliant musical endeavours but also returning to the interviewers chair for some brilliant Q&As, one that particular sticks in my mind is the one with Jimmy Vee about Doctor Who, most will know him as Bannakaffalatta (trying saying that after a few), but those of us in the know will also know him from his uncredited role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One as R2-D2 (yes there you go I said it) and he has reprised the role in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi after the passing of the late, great, Kenny Baker.

Kenny Baker and Professor Elemental at SFW8

Jimmy Vee and Professor Elemental at SFW8

As I mentioned earlier, SFW8 was a jam packed event, with almost everything for everyone, Thursday night saw a superb performance from Joshua Rose with Linzi Gold, the SFW Allstars Cabaret was also something not to be missed and lots of people didn’t miss the show and enjoyed every moment.

I have to say that this year’s Q&As were some of the best I’ve seen for a long time and my hat is tipped to the organisation of the schedule for all the Q&As and chats that were happening over the weekend, would love more like this for SFW9 and another me with a camera to grab everything.

As Telos Publishing is co-sponsor of the event, we try and bring and look after a good, diverse, array of authors each year, and this year MASSIVE thanks go to Darren Shan Official, Freda Warrington, Simon Morden, Justina LA Robson, Steve Lockley and Paul Lewis for helping with talks, signings and other events all over the event! – David J Howe via SFW FB Group

Chill With A Movie and Another and Another …

The cinema was moved this year and instead of it being in the Timeport it was teleported over to the sports hall just down the road from the Mash & Barrel, with a great collection of movies including the brilliant Deadpool, the magical Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and a version of Ghostbusters (2016) that had frame breaking on it (The IMAX version did this with the special effects moving over the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen), there were movies in most Sci-Fi genres for movie fans to enjoy throughout the weekend.

Just A Minute!

How could you have a Sci-Fi Weekender without Just A Minute? Every year this quiz show has the place packed with belly laughs and screams of joy and that’s not just from the audience, this year was no exception as the show pulled in fans of the game and had them loving every, well erm, minute of the quiz.

The Dark Room was originally an interactive YouTube series, it went viral in 2012, with 4,000,000 hits. It appeared on NPR, in Variety magazine, L’oiel du Links (Canal+) and was nominated
for Jayisgames.com’s Best of Casual Games 2012. John brought the game to life in the Main Void, John was lit up as all the Main Void went into darkness, he then started the game with members of the audience, wow what a show!

I can quite honestly say that this part of the weekend must have been the most popular one of the weekend, even now a week later many Weekenders are calling people Darren, especially over in the SFW Facebook Group, after John’s performance, if you get the chance to see John doing The Dark Room then you want to see him live!

The Dark Room Teaser

This year’s Sci-Fi Weekender had one of the most amazing sets of music and DJs with DJ Leroy having the audience eating out of his hands with a DJ set that had the Main Void up on its feet and pounding the dance floor, plus Pat Sharp also did an amazing set with a great collection of 80s mixes, the amazing thing with Pat was he would come to the front of the stage to have selfies with almost everyone, darting back to the turntables to spin that next disk seamlessly.

Pat Sharp’s DJ Set at SFW8

I also had the chance to get on the stage with my AAA to get some video of Pat and his performance, amazing and what a really nice guy.

Enjoying SFW8 in the Main Void

With so many amazing Q&As, interviews, traders, guests and much more happening it was hard to keep up with everything!

Overall Sci-Fi Weekender 8 was an amazing weekend packed with things to see and do, my only issue was the WiFi which was supplied by Hafan y Mor, after paying £12 for the 3 days of access, it was slow, unresponsive and I probably managed to get a day and halves worth of access from the three days that I purchased, but besides that little niggle, a top Weekender. Now I’m just looking forward to returning to Pwllheli for Sci-Fi Weekender 9!

Karen Woodham
Karen Woodham is the founder and owner of the Blazing Minds, an avid blogger and bona fide journalist. She is also a Cinema Film Reviewer, based at the Scala in Prestatyn and at many Cineworld screens, where she reviews the latest movies, she has also had several articles published in various publications. She became an Award Winning Blogger in 2015 and also has her website listed as one of the UKs Top 10 Film Blogs.
Karen Woodham

@KarenNWoodham

2015 @UKBlogAwards winner. Journalist, photographer and founder of @blazingminds. Mentioned on @BBCFilm2017. Reviewer at @VenueCymru @cineworld
Karen Woodham
Karen Woodham