The Printworks was once again transformed into the "Diagon Alley" last week as a two-day Harry Potter fan convention descended on Manchester. It first came to the city last year when hundreds of people young and old showed up to indulge their passion for JK Rowling’s world of wizardry.
This year's event featured Actor appearances with Autograph and photograph sessions, Magic Market Street with traders, Q&A panels from cast and crew of the films, Props and mini exhibitions and special food and drinks offers in many venues.
The autograph sessions with the actors were great! If you're a huge Harry Potter fan and loved the movies, then this opportunity will definitely stay in your heart forever! Every actor was super lovely and took their time to have great conversations with their fans and signed one photo of them from the movie. I loved how these autographs were accessible for everyone attending the event because standard ticket holders got an opportunity to get 2 free autographs and VIP ticket holders had 3 free autographs from selected actors who played little parts in the movie. For actors who had principal roles in the movie, the autographs were priced between £10 to £15 which is very reasonable. The Q and A sessions were led perfectly by Reece Ryan who was the speaker and the host of each panel and had a great interaction with the audience. This man deserves a massive Well Done! Unfortunately though, the meet and greet sessions and Q and A were the only positive things about the event.
At the start of the event I have queued up in the queue to collect my tickets and after 30 minutes of waiting in the pouring rain I came up to the desk to be told that my tickets are VIP and have to be collected from another desk on a totally opposite side of The Printworks (no information or signs were provided) so I headed there. I was shocked because the queue for the VIP tickets only was much much longer than the queue that I've stood in before and after 45 minutes if not more of waiting I have finally collected my tickets.
The VIP tickets are really not worth it! Standard tickets were being sold for approximately £20 and included entry to the convention and 2 free autographs whereas VIP were being sold for approximately £35 and included entry to the convention and 3 free autographs and what was promised to be "skip the queue pass" which was horrific. Firstly, the organisers sold way too many VIP tickets which ruined the experience as there was way more people in the VIP queue than the standard queue which was a joke. Secondly, I don't even know where the whole "skip the queue" idea was... no VIP's were skipping the queues or getting to the actors any quicker than the standard ticket holders as they were let through using this cycle: VIP, Standard, VIP, Standard over and over again and I'm not even that clever but straight away I knew that this will not work logically as the VIP's aren't really skipping the queue but are let through on same basic as the standard ticket holders and if it was: VIP, VIP, Standard over and over or something similar to that then that would actually make some sense and allowed the VIP's to actually get priority entrance! Thirdly, the promised "reserved VIP seats at the Q and A sessions" were definitely not reserved in any way as they were not even checked if the right VIP ticket holders only are sat in them. Fourthly, no one has ticked off or kept track of how many free autographs people got. My friend had a standard ticket and managed to get all 5 free autographs available and even 3 spares for her friends! Whatever you do, do NOT buy a VIP ticket for this event as you can get smaller queues and the same (or even better) benefits as the VIP's with a Standard ticket.
I do not have a clue who hired the staff working at the event. The staff are working at a HARRY POTTER event where there was around 1000 HARRY POTTER fans wanting to dive into this world of HARRY POTTER and yet, I asked one of the staff members what their favourite Harry Potter film and book is and they replied to me with "I've never even heard of the guy till this morning" which absolutely shocked me! Not only they had little or no clue about Harry Potter, they didn't have a single clue of what was going on. Their most used phrases were "Sorry, unfortunately I can't help you but if you go to the help desk they might help" and when you go up to the Help desk they also don't have a clue about anything or "I'm not sure but I'll check for you" and then they never get back to you or "I'll radio it through and check" and then disappear forever.
Most shopping stalls at the market place were made up of some very cheaply made, overpriced and "made in China" stuff that you can find almost anywhere online for quarter of the price.
I am just going to stop there because I just cannot express how awful this event was this year. I have been to this same event last year (2018) at the Printworks and back then it was genuinely magical, stunning and I never wanted it to end but this year I couldn't wait to go home... perhaps it might be because apparently there is a totally new management team of the event with different people who tried making it better but ruined it.
This Event Gets:
Overall, this year's DraigCon was the most unorganized event I have ever been to. I am giving them 2 stars because I'm being kind... but did they really deserve it?