This year, Birmingham’s very own Supernatural convention was bigger than ever. Rumours of up to 3,000 attendees circulated online before the big weekend as some of the show’s brightest stars were confirmed as guests. Here’s our report, some happy memories and our Asylum 16 photos — hope you enjoy!
Since last year’s event (see Asylum 14 photos here!) was already quite a crowded one, many were understandably worried about the queue times and other logistics at the venue, Hilton Birmingham Metropole. Despite a few disappointing glitches, everything went better than expected: here’s our report and photo gallery from Asylum 16!
(Here just for the photos? Scroll down for the full photo gallery!)
We arrived late Thursday night and checked into our room at Premier Inn NEC, and were happily surprised with it: a more spacious room and bigger beds than we expected! It wasn’t the closest choice for us when considering the location of the Asylum 16 venue, but the trip to the convention venue is totally doable on foot – albeit we wouldn’t recommend doing the walk alone at night as some of the shortcuts through the industrial areas of NEC are quite dark and spooky.
The first queues
This year, the registration and ticket sales queues were moved to the recently opened, nearby Resorts World (a leisure complex with shops and a Cineworld etc.) so that’s where we headed a little bit of ahead of our group’s call time. Luckily we did – our group (I) got called in a little ahead of the estimated time.
And for the next 3,5 hours we queued. First to get our wristbands and lanyards, then to buy some extras from the ticket office.
We’d been warned beforehand that the main guest photo ops were “very limited”, so Satu spent all these hours worrying about her chances for a J2 (=Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) photo. However, there were plenty of tickets left by the time we reached the counter and tadah… J2 sandwich achievement unlocked!Throughout the weekend, there were problems with the screens and therefore, getting the information out there proved to be troublesome. Many of the announcements went unannounced on Twitter as well and as usual, Hilton’s wifi didn’t work for nearly everyone in the halls where the panels took place.
But hang on! Everything did absolutely not suck!
Despite the few glitches and the missed information by some attendees, the weekend was a really good one. Well, we were lucky enough to get into both of the evening events (half because of good luck, half because we’d been through all this before), so we can only assume and hope that those who didn’t get in ended up having fun too.
Karaoke, Jason Manns and all sorts of happyfeels
We also managed to get tickets to the Jason Manns concert on Saturday, and later heard they didn’t have enough room for everyone who wanted in. Unfortunately, the same thing happened at Friday’s Karaoke Party with Richard Speight Jr. and Matt Cohen, so we felt a little bad for those left outside.
The karaoke night was amazing. If you want to see what it’s all about and witness the most amazing Supernatural choir ever, check out Johanna’s (@supernaturalize) video below. Both our Youtube channel and hers have a few videos from Jason’s concert and the karaoke night if you’re curious for more!
Jason Mann’s concerts are always so much fun. The crowd usually sits on the floor which is peculiar enough, but he’s such an entertaining guy on stage that it all just works. Good songs, fun jokes, and guest stars like Gil McKinney make his gigs really special for all of us.
So once again, the Supernatural family (both the fans and the dedicated cast) proved to be quite unlike any other international community in the world: well-behaving, friendly, supporting people with different backgrounds and stories all happy to hang out together.
Inspired by the SPNFamily, I wrote a letter to the cast, which also serves as a note to all of our disapproving, non-geeky friends. You can read it here.
We did spot a few rotten apples among the crowds (skipping lines for no good reason and sneaking into panels they shouldn’t be at) but surely, these guys just didn’t know better and will behave better in the future?
And the cast! Year after year, they prove to be more than worthy of our admiration. We keep hearing from the guest stars about the incredible atmosphere on set and how the Supernatural cast and crew are the loveliest group of people they’ve ever worked with, but this time one of the guests also pointed out how the show also seems to attract only the very nicest of actors.
(Note: We remember this being said, but can’t for the life of us remember who said it – if you know, please comment below or tweet us! :)
“It’s like this is one of their requirements: you have to be a genuinely nice person to get a role on Supernatural.”
Even the grumpiest cast member has SPNFamily feels
During Mark Sheppard‘s solo Q&A panel, he was his usual self: a bunch of snark wrapped in Crowley’s meatsuit. We always knew he isn’t really a mean person and that he does enjoy coming to these events, even if him being “a crusty f*cker” (as Ty Olsson puts it) is a common joke among his castmates.
But when he gave a 10-minute speech on family, friendship and support, and encouraged everyone to “open the door a little” to let new people in at these events, we were reminded once again why so many consider this show and its followers a family instead of a group of random strangers digging the same thing.
A big hand to the Asylum 16 volunteers!
As most of us con-goers already know, the organizers usually get major help from a group of volunteers during the events. They’re there to make sure everyone is at the right place at the right time, that queues work as smoothly as possible and that there’s always someone you can turn to in case you need any help.
This weekend, we felt there weren’t quite enough stewards around (at the doors checking wristbands, for example), which means that the ones that were there must’ve been under a lot of pressure at times.
So, we’d like to say a big THANK YOU to you guys for being so patient, friendly and hard-working. All weekend, we were greeted by friendly smiles, and one of them even turned out to be one of our blog’s followers! The lovely Sandra (@spnwatchpartyUK) with the pretty Star Trek dress recognized our sceneframes while we were queueing for our J2 autographs, which resulted in a lovely chat. Really hope to meet you again some day, girl!
A few practical convention tips
If you consider attending a fan convention like the Asylums, we recommend joining some friendly Facebook groups in the weeks before the event. People in the Asylum groups share a lot of information, tips and tricks on how to make the most of your weekend.
Fangirl Quest’s tips based on Asylum 16 + more
Bring a fan. You know, the non-human kind: one of those old-fashioned, pretty and foldable fans that you can easily slip into your bag an use as a lifesaver if and when the queues and hallways get too warm.
Thermos flask. If you drink a lot of coffee but are living on a budget, Tiia warmly recommends bringing a thermos flask. Not a huge one – just big enough to carry a good afternoon dose of coffee just the way you like it. This way, you don’t have to pay £5 for a cup of your favourite beverage and better yet, you’ll avoid the sometimes-very-long queues for it.
Take care when reading the schedule and following all the changes and delays. Plan accordingly. If possible, be where you need to be (photo ops, autographs) ahead of time, but don’t be an idjit and skip lines. Just ask the staff and be polite about being there early – if it’s still quiet, the stewards will let you go even if it’s not your turn just yet.
Queue like a nice person. Be friendly with the people around you. If you’re facing three hours in a queue together, it’ll be much more tolerable, if you all manage to keep your spirits up. Queues suck, but when you do it with fun people, they become not only an essential part of the experience, but an opportunity to meet new people.
The perfect cure for the post con blues: Jason Manns live on stage
Usually, when an event like this is over and a person heads back home to their real lives, a severe case of the post con blues can easily attack. If you feel sad after your weekend with your fellow fans, fear not: you’re not alone. It’s a a very common phenomenon and there are a few ways of handling it.
The easiest one is to talk to other fans. Hang out in the event group, share photos, talk about the experience and keep in touch with the new friends you’ve just met.
Organize a Supernatural marathon for yourself or a group of people in the same state of mind.
Or… if possible, go see Jason Manns live in London! That’s what we super lucky gals did on Monday night. A couple of cast members were there too and (without mentioning names) there was some talk of tequila shots, too. Luckily, the bar was closed already, so we just settled for hugs and chats, which clearly, keep you feeling better in the morning.
Here’s a video clip of Gil McKinney and Jason Manns singing a duet. Damn, such talented fellas.
ALL the Asylum 16 photos!