Caravan of Courage: The Road to Star Wars Celebration Europe II

Photo (from left-to-right): - Mark Mulcaster (Rebel Legion), Suzi Sterling (Rebel Legion), Stephen Smith (UK Garrison), Mary Franklin (Lucasfilm), Gary Hailes (UK Garrison), Steve Buckley (UK Garrison), James Burns (Jedi News) and Oliver Steeples (R2 Builders Club)

Photo (from left-to-right): – Mark Mulcaster (Rebel Legion), Suzi Sterling (Rebel Legion), Stephen Smith (UK Garrison), Mary Franklin (Lucasfilm), Gary Hailes (UK Garrison), Steve Buckley (UK Garrison), James Burns (Jedi News) and Oliver Steeples (R2 Builders Club)

The 30th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi is a landmark too big to go un-celebrated, and if there’s one thing Star Wars fans know how to do better than anyone, it’s how to celebrate and party.

But five long years have passed since the summer of 2007, which saw the dual hit of Celebration IV in May and Celebration Europe, held at the Excel in London over the weekend of July 13-15. Bringing the saga to the country where the majority of the first four movies were filmed, UK and European fans were treated to appearances by Mark Hamill, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and a plethora of galactic stars, as well as the premiere of Fanboys, Charles Ross and the One Man Star Wars Trilogy, the Palitoy 2007 Archive, talks, signings, parties, and much, much more. There was even the infamous Jedi versus Sith battle on the bridge!

During the closing ceremony of Star Wars Celebration VI in August, Mary Franklin delivered the news that all Europeans had been waiting to hear: Celebration will be coming back to Europe in 2013! Star Wars Celebration Europe II will take place in Messe Essen in Germany between July 26 and 28 in 2013. We were sitting just three rows from the front, just behind Ian MacDiarmid, and literally jumped for joy at the news.  We spoke to Mary straight after the announcement and she said, “We’re delighted to be bringing Celebration back to Europe with our partners, Reed, and we hope you’ll all be involved.”

True to her word, last week we met Mary Franklin in London for a beer or two, along with representatives from the 501st/UK Garrison, Jedi News, R2 Builders Club, Rebel Legion, and The Force United. Mary shared with us the floor plans and which halls at Messe Essen would be used, and confirmed that there would be two set-up days on July 24 and 25, and a pull-down day on Monday, July 29. We then all spent the next couple of hours discussing ideas and plans for the show, as well as discussing practicalities along with things that would and wouldn’t work. Mary explained that she would be meeting with the German and Belgium fans this week and would take all our ideas to them and report back. This is just the start of the process that we’ll all continue to be involved in, with further discussions and planning sessions taking place in the lead up to what we all hope will be the biggest and best Celebration yet.

So what can we reveal from our discussions? Mary has set up a Fan Advisory Group for the show in which all sites represented at this first meeting will play a role. Also, all the sites present will be in attendance at Star Wars Celebration Europe II. We’re all busy planning at the moment but Mary liked what she heard, especially the idea of a caravan/convoy from the UK to the show. Whilst still in the planning stages, we expect this convoy to drive from the UK to Germany, passing through France, Belgium, and Holland. We’ll be revealing more details of what’s become affectionately known as our “Caravan of Courage” early in 2013. Finally, tickets will be on sale to the general public soon.

That’s it for the moment, but we’ll be bringing you lots more UK centric news along with further plans for Star Wars Celebration Europe II in the coming months.

James Burns and Mark Newbold own/run the largest English speaking Star Wars fan site in Europe, Jedi News, and are also both regular contributors to Star Wars Insider. Listen to James as part of the monthly Curto Burns Collectors Cast, discussing all the latest Star Wars collecting news with co-host Dan Curto and featuring fellow StarWars.com blogger Steve Sansweet.

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