AireCon, one of the UK’s largest analogue gaming festivals, starts today; running from Thursday 9th of March to Sunday 12th. Returning to Harrogate Convention Centre, this year’s festival is the biggest yet; having significantly expanded capacity and, for the very first time, added a fourth day of gaming, exhibitions, exclusive product launches, large-scale social games, special guests and more due to unprecedented demand.
Following the incredible success of last year’s convention, AireCon 2023 will take place across more floor space than ever before. This means room and time for over 40 hours of gaming and 80+ of the biggest and most exciting names in games from around the world. Determined to pack as much into this year’s festival as possible, AireCon have announced that accomplished games master, children’s author and breakout star of BBC smash hit show The Traitors; Ivan Brett will be joining the already impressive lineup that includes the likes of international gaming distribution powerhouse Asmodee, award-winning developers such as Parable Games (Shiver) and exciting new Kickstarter stars Play for Keeps (Overstocked).
Elsewhere, there are even more ‘AireVents’ happenings offsite throughout Harrogate for everyone to enjoy including a Brew York beer tasting event at counterculture institution Major Tom’s, a morning mixer/gaming warm-up session and a free entry, 5k AireCon ParkRun around some of Harrogate’s iconic green space. These events join AireCon institutions such as the beloved Bring ‘n’ Buy area which has been helping visitors complete their collections since the festival’s inception and the renowned AireCon Inter-School Tournament which for the first time is open to tabletop teams from Secondary Schools as well as Primary Schools.
The biggest AireCon to date, 2023’s festival is already breaking records. More pre-sales than ever before led to the festival expanding and releasing extra tickets, but even these tickets are now close to selling out. This year’s AireCon will also see the introduction of innovative new ideas like the online G.A.M.E System which will keep visitors updated on all the events taking place at the convention and keep them up to date on any nearby gaming opportunities as well as the Gameseekers Area where a dedicated Game Guru will be on hand to help solo attendees find like minded people to game with. After the success of the ‘Pay What You Feel’ sale at AireCon ‘22, which saw over £8,000 raised for the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, The festival have launched Donate for the Quakes which will see the money raised this year sent to the DEC Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal.
Originally set up by director Mark Cooke as a place for him and his friends to play games for a weekend, AireCon 0 was held in Mark’s North Leeds flat before he teamed up with accountant Ben Clarkson and moved to a venue in Bradford for two public events in 2016. After quickly outgrowing the space and realising they were onto something big, AireCon brought software engineer Rick Meeson and Nabil Homsi, director of the Leeds-based Travelling Man chain of comic and board game shops onto the team to focus on expansion. A long search led Mark and co. to The Harrogate Convention Centre, their home since 2017 and a platform that has allowed AireCon to evolve into one of the largest and most popular events of its kind across the country.
An essential, inclusive event for any new gaming fan or longtime tabletop enthusiast, AireCon 2023 is an unmissable opportunity where thousands of gamers, creators, families, independent companies and more can get together, share ideas and have fun playing classic games and exploring new ones; whether they’re attending with friends or coming to the convention solo.
Mark Cooke, AireCon Show Director and Founder:
We’re so excited to be returning to Harrogate for our biggest event ever in 2023. We’ve increased the physical size of the convention with more exhibitors, more halls and more gaming space! AireCon 2023 is going to be the best yet, with so much for people to do whether they’re attending in groups or coming solo.