UK PonyCon 2018 case study

My little ponies lined up outside Newton building for UK PonyCon

Client
UK PonyCon is Europe’s longest running, fan created and run convention celebrating all incarnations of My Little Pony since they were first released in 1982 right through to the Friendship is Magic series, the 2017 film and beyond.

We host a range of events suitable for all generations of fans and have welcomed thousands of fans over the years, raising more than £38,000 for charity.

Background
The 2018 convention, held at Nottingham Conference Centre was the fifteenth event with the theme of Crystal Celebration. The convention is the largest My Little Pony event in the country and attracts fans from all over the world with regular visitors from Europe, North America and beyond.

“UK PonyCon has a history of moving around the country since its inception, but with the event growing in size and complexity, finding suitable venues and locations is becoming more of a problem. Having held the previous two events in the south and the north of the country, we looked towards the Midlands for 2018.

Nottingham provided a good location in the middle of the country, with excellent transport links both domestically and for our international visitors. The space at NCC provided everything we needed within our budget.”

The Objective
“UK PonyCon has always been about creating a forum for sharing our collective passion for My Little Pony where as many people from the community can join in, get to know each other, buy ponies and have fun together. Over time the way we do this has changed, but by hosting conventions with a variety of events, stalls, activities and social spaces we aim to provide a sense of excitement and inclusivity for all fans.

Moving into the fifteenth year and with the event selling out for the past three years, we were looking for an even bigger venue than previously to host the largest edition of UK PonyCon to date.

Whilst we are a medium sized event, we are a close-knit community of fans and putting on a memorable annual event is important to us. As a team of volunteers, we look for venues with a good events management team who understand our needs and can support us before and during the event.”

Our Brief
Sam Haines, Chairperson of UK PonyCon 2018 provided us with detailed information that the event attracts around 900 people to celebrate My Little Pony through a large market area, presentations, discussion panels and games.

He was looking for a venue that has space suitable for around 50 exhibitors, theatre style presentation for around 220 people, three to four syndicate rooms for 50-100 people and additional breakout spaces to be used as a staff room, guest area and a quiet room. The event would take place over two days on the weekend with access to the space the evening before to set up.

“During the site visit it became apparent that the Central Court would provide an excellent space for a “mane” stage – our events lead fell in love with the place with its glass ceiling and atmospheric lighting. This was added into the brief and NCC provided all the support we needed to make best use of the space.”

Results
Over 900 fans attended the event at Nottingham Conference Centre, the largest UKPonyCon yet. They could browse the numerous exhibitor stalls across the two days, alongside other convention events such as panels from artists and content creators, games and karaoke, and a screening of the original 1986 film.

On the evening of the first day, the Central Court was used to host a Crystal Ball with live music and entertainment on a raised stage, something added into the brief after the first site visit, which really helped to bring the event together. Meanwhile, younger attendees enjoyed a themed disco party in one of the event rooms.

The spacious venue, especially with the use of the Central Court as the main stage, allowed great flow throughout the conference, especially useful for attendees in their large and colourful costumes. The varied spaces provided a variety of social settings for attendees to chat, from café seating in Central Court adjacent to the main stage, through to quieter, more relaxed seating in the Newton Forum.

The UK PonyCon convention raised a record of £6,750 for the Riding for Disabled Association (RDA) with the auction bringing in £4,674, with one rare pony selling for £440 alone to the astonishment of many.

“The 2018 convention was probably the most successful and well received edition of UK PonyCon to date, with excellent feedback from attendees. They were particularly impressed with the venue and staff joining in with the spirit of the event. We are returning in 2019 to host our convention once more at the NCC, which speaks volumes of what we think of the venue and the team behind it.”

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