Siarlot Lloyd

King Con makes a move to Sunderland after outgrowing its original Durham venue

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The North East has recently been experiencing a nerd culture renaissance.

While SunnyCon (an anime convention) may have helped to get the ball rolling in 2012, there is now a thriving subculture of nerdery across the Tyne and Wear region. From board game cafes to escape rooms, the current craze for superhero films and Pokémon has helped create business for Newcastle Film and Comic in March and November, the aforementioned SunnyCon in June, and now King Con in October.

Migrating from Durham’s Gala Theatre, this year the convention will take place at the Stadium Of Light in Sunderland, on the weekend of October 23.

Dan Pye and Lindsey Brown, who also run Dark Matter Café in Durham, started King Con in 2014. Although the organiser’s would have loved to stay in Durham, due to the popularity of the event, they needed to expand.

“Sunderland has a much larger venue, and we had grown to the largest point we could in Durham without needing to look at marquees, which could be a little detrimental to the overall experience of the event. So we chose the biggest venue we could, with the best features, transport links, capacity, and workability. The Stadium [Of Light] fit that bill perfectly for us, so we went with that.” Said Dan Pye, one of the event’s organisers.

Syrio Forel will be giving sword fighting lessons at this year’s King Con

While King Con was originally set up to promote Dark Matter café, it has now grown into a much wider way to celebrate Geek Culture.

“We very much promote STEM activities as part of our culture, as something that would inspire future generations to seek careers in science, technology and media, as well as entertaining and engaging people in a great varied event.”

And it’s this level of engagement that makes King Con special, according to Dan, as although the new venue and date puts King Con in closer completion with Showmasters’ Newcastle film and Comic Con, he isn’t too concerned.

“We are a different show to put it bluntly, we have a lot more activities than NFCC, and focus on creating an all round experience for your money, with things to see, do, play with, learn, create and take away. You can come to KingCon, learn how to animate a character, physically do it while you’re there, create your own flashing keyrings from scratch. You can take part in an escape room experience, learn to sword fight, shoot zombies, play games before they’re released, create a bottle rocket, discover space, seek a new career and the list just goes on… All in addition to over 100 exhibitors and traders.”

So the October event clearly has a great deal of interactivity that perhaps other conventions don’t provide.

And there is plenty to look forward to, as the convention welcome Jerome Flynn who plays Bronn in Game of Thrones, as well as sword lessons from Miltos Yerolemou who played Syrio Forel in Game Of Thrones.

However, it’s another guest Dan himself is looking forward to meeting, Charles Martinet, the voice of Super Mario.

He said: “Charles is an amazing, hilarious guy, and I can’t wait to meet him.”

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