A guide for newbies
The Discworld Convention is a gathering of fans of Sir Terry Pratchett and his Discworld. It usually happens in the UK once every two years. This is an event organised by fans, for fans. Any profit the event makes is donated to our nominated charities. In 2020 the Convention will happen between the 7th and 10th of August at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in Birmingham, UK. The theme is the book 'Lord & Ladies'. Think witches, wizards, elves, morris dancers and irate cats.
The Convention is run entirely by volunteers. The Concom (Convention Committee) set everything up, getting contracts together, inviting guests and shaping the Programme (ths one needs a lot of help from our members and guests). When the Convention starts, the Committee can usually be found in Ops, trying to keep everything running smoothly. At the convention we're also helped out every day by our Gophers (go-fers.... get it?!). Gophering can be a really good way of understanding how the Convention works, and it's really handy for getting to know people too. If you would like to be a gopher (squeak!) at the Convention, go to Ops. If you'd like to volunteer beforehand (we can always use the help), please email us at email@example.com.
We have a few rules and regulations to help people be Excellent to each other. You can find out about them on the policies page - make sure you read them before you go!
What to expect
Whether you are new to the convention, an old hat but haven’t attended for a while, whether you’re coming on your own or with family or friends, we are planning lots of wonderful events and there will be something for everyone to participate in.
For those who are new to the Discworld Convention, your first act on arrival (as long as that arrival is happening on Friday) should be to find out where Registration is happening and go there to collect your badge and welcome pack. This will have something called the Readme in it - and we heartily recommend you abide by it's instruction (Read Me). The information in there should equip you nicely for the craziness that is to come!
The Convention officially starts with the Grand Opening Ceremony on Friday afternoon. And that's certainly a good place to start. Officially.
Unofficially however, if you've arrived at the hotel early and are at a loose end, there’s lots to participate in and enjoy before then, such as the early bird Thursday Night Quiz, making your own costume, joining in with games and much more. Of course, using this time for a drink and meeting old and new friends – and deciding which programme items to attend – usually works just as well.
Every Convention the Programme provides a wide range of events for you to choose from. Some usual main events are Bedtime Stories on the Friday Evening (pyjamas and teddybears are recommended, but not mandatory), The Maskerade costume competition on the Saturday, the exclusive Gala Dinner on the Sunday, and The Play on the Monday before the closing ceremony.
Sandwiched between the big events, we have various supporting activities. We strive to have a varied programme (lectures, panels, games, workshops, quizzes, etc), with events throughout the day (or at least starting as early as we can find people to run things). The programme items typically cover a wide range of interests and the majority are suitable for (though not necessarily aimed at) families and children. In addition, we typically have several programme items specifically aimed at younger kids.
If loosely structured madcap fun is more your bag, each Convention we divide the members into different Sects, Guilds, or in this case, Covens. Participation is not mandatory, but joining in with the Coven events will give you a group of instant friends to enjoy your convention with!
A big part of the Convention for some people can be creating, wearing and admiring costumes. Some people work very hard to create amazing outfits, really bringing Discworld characters to life. The theme can inform your costume choice, but it doesn't have to. There are hall tokens in your membership pack to give to people who's work has particularly impressed you. However if you're not the costume sort, that's also fine - the most popular costume at a Discworld Convention is usually a (Discworld) t-shirt and jeans.
And, as we've said before - if none of those appeal, there's always the time honoured classic of sitting in the pub with friends old and new, partaking of a refreshing beverage that may or may not be mostly apples. Just watch out for those pesky hedgehogs.
1. Go to Ops!
This is a guiding principle for the entire convention. Our Ops team are usually located in a central place and can get you what you need. So if in doubt about anything, not sure what’s happening, need a question answered? GO TO OPS!
2. Make Friends
Have fun and be open to simply walking up to strangers and striking up a conversation. After all, you already know you have a love of all things Discworld in common.
The easiest way to meet new people, is to volunteer during the Convention - but only if you want to. The entire Discworld Convention is made possible only by the hard work of volunteers and it's the best way to get involved yourself.
- It’s a great way to see behind the scenes of the convention
- Help your fellow members
- Have a really great time whilst making new friends
4. Join a Guild / Society / Sect / Band / Coven
Every member is automatically allocated to a Coven prior to the convention. This allocation should be seen as a suggestion, not a requirement - you can join any Guild you want or none of them at all. By getting involved in the Guilds, however, you can:
- Interact with fellow members before the Convention starts, coming up with fun things to do
- Make friends to meet and interact with during the event as you try to win the guilds/societies competition!
5. Make a costume
This is by no means a requrement of attendance - for plenty of people it's jeans and tshirts all the way. But If you want to wear a costume please do!
- Want a costume but aren’t sure what to make or how to make it? Why not pop into Chaos Costuming - where our resident seamstresses1 reside - and make yourself a costume (or fix up your home-made one) right there at the Convention.
- Make sure if you have a costume involving weaponry or sharp objects that you read the Weapons Policy. Yes we really have a policy on weapons. Yes, it is completely mandatory!
6. Make a plan!
Once the schedule is published (which happens much closer to the Convention) make sure you make a note of the following things:
- Decide what you consider must see items, would like to if I have time and not fussed items.
- You can attend any item on the schedule unless it specifically states it’s for a certain group only (and you're not in that group!)
- Make sure to schedule in time to top up your energy levels with food and keep hydrated.
1 No, not that kind of seamstress. The kind that actually knows what to do with a needle and thread.