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Harrogate rides pop-culture wave with visitor boost and new comic convention

Harrogate Convention Centre

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One of the UK’s newest pop-culture events has seen a 40 percent increase in visitors following its latest show at Harrogate Convention Centre.

The AireCon Analogue Gaming Festival welcomed just over 4000 board game fans between March 8th and 10th, just five years after organiser Mark Cooke held the first event in his own home with a group of friends.

Mark said: “This year has been amazing for us. We haven’t changed the format at all really but we have taken more space this year.

“All the figures are up. We had 4003 visitors in total and we had more exhibitors and more international visitors in 2019.

“We’ve seen a bigger percentage of people buying multi-day tickets. A lot of them were staying over in Harrogate, which is great for the town’s economy too.

“I think the secret is to keep listening to people and keep improving the event and make sure we keep the emphasis on our visitors.”

Board games and table-top gaming have seen a huge rise in popularity over recent years. In 2016 the industry enjoyed a 24 percent year-on-year increase in the UK, while global sales where worth $9.5billion.

The strong AireCon figures came within a week of the Convention Centre announcing it would be hosting the UK’s largest comic book art event in November 2019. Organisers of the Thought Bubble Convention took the decision to move the event from Leeds to Harrogate to consolidate all the events under one-roof.

The accompanying Thought Bubble Festival will take place throughout Yorkshire and see a number of fringe art events at more intimate venues.

Founder and Festival Director Lisa Wood said she and her team had searched for a venue that would do the festival justice and had found “an amazing new home”.

“We’re delighted to be moving to Harrogate Convention Centre,” she said. “The scale of the venue, with an amazing bar area, means we can host our much-loved Saturday night party under the same roof.

“A beautiful Edwardian hall will also give us plenty of options for panel areas and on-stage presentations. Harrogate Convention Centre is super accessible and we’re excited to use it to build on our reputation of presenting activity that is inclusive for all.”

Paula Lorimer, director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said it was excellent news that Harrogate would be the new home of the festival following a very successful 12 years in Leeds.

She added: “And to hear such great news from AireCon is really positive for Harrogate. It’s enjoyed an incredible rate of growth and shows Harrogate is a great place for major pop-culture events and the huge range of fans they attract.”

The Thought Bubble Comic Art Convention takes place at Harrogate Convention Centre on November 9th and 10th

The Thought Bubble Festival takes place at various locations in Yorkshire from November 4th to 10th.

For more information go to www.thoughtbubblefestival.com/

AireCon 2020 is scheduled to return to Harrogate Convention Centre from 13th to 15th March.

Details at airecon.uk

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