For those who might not know, Star Wars Celebration is the regular gathering of Star Wars fans from around the world to revel in the love for their favorite franchise. It’s been held all across the United States, Europe, and Japan, and is a bastion of love for the galaxy far, far away. The first was held in Denver, Colorado, in the weeks leading to the release of The Phantom Menace, and no one was quite sure what to expect. Over the years, they’ve evolved into massive conventions in their own right held close to yearly. There, you’ll find all the latest announcements in the Star Wars saga, as well as panels starring all your favorite Star Wars stars. All the while, you’ll be surrounded by fans who love Star Wars just as much as you do.
We compiled a list of six great moments from Celebration over the years, moments we hope to see added to with the upcoming Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019.
1. Gareth Edwards, stormtrooper.
At Star Wars Celebration Europe in 2016, everyone was champing at the bit for news about Rogue One, which was still months away. At a panel about the art of Rogue One, a stormtrooper approached the microphone to ask a question of the panel. Something wasn’t right, though, and the stormtrooper took off their helmet to reveal none other than Gareth Edwards, director of Rogue One. One of the best parts of Star Wars Celebration is that you never know when something like this is going to happen. (Edwards made a more proper appearance at the massive Rogue One panel, seen above.)
2. George Lucas at Celebration.
Celebration III was the first Star Wars Celebration that George Lucas attended, and his panel was sure to sell out, right? That’s what everyone assumed, so the lineup began the evening before on a clear Indianapolis night. Hundreds and hundreds of fans (including myself) got in line for a chance to glimpse the Star Wars creator. But the good weather turned bad. First the rains started. Then the wind. Then the tornado warnings. But still, we waited. By the next morning we were all tired and soaking wet from the rain, but we were there, in the room. Lucas was a crowd pleaser and I’m not sure if it was because of how profound he was or how exhausted we all were, but there were lots of tears as he came into the room. A runner up would be his appearance on stage at Celebration V, when he appeared with Jon Stewart and canonized the planet of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s birth as planet Stewjon.
3. The rain and snow at Celebration I.
When it was first announced that there would be a gathering of Star Wars fans in the weeks preceding the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, I knew I had to heed that call. As a teenager, I scraped together all the money I could to make it to the very first Celebration, held at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver, Colorado. The venue was largely outdoors and massive tents had been erected to hold the crowds, but who could have predicted the rain and the snow? The pathways between venues turned to mud and the weather was completely miserable. But you know what? No one cared. This was the first time many of us had been around that many fellow Star Wars fans and it felt, for the first time, like we were actually home. In the video above, you can see Anthony Daniels visiting fans as they brave the elements.
4. Chewie, we’re home.
At Celebration Anaheim in 2015, we would be treated to one of the most iconic moments in this new era of Star Wars with the brand new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And one moment more than any other sent the crowd spinning dizzily out of their minds: Han and Chewie take a step forward in the Falcon, with our scoundrel uttering that perfect line, “Chewie, we’re home.” You had to be there.
5. Thrawn’s Rebels reveal.
To that point, I had never been in a room more electrified than at Celebration Europe when Dave Filoni showed off the trailer for the third season of Star Wars Rebels. This is the moment we knew that one of the most beloved characters in the history of Star Wars would be making his debut on the animated television show. Then, when Filoni revealed that Timothy Zahn would be returning to write a book about the character, the madness started all over again. I’d wager that moment is in the running for biggest reaction in the history of Celebration.
6. The 40th anniversary panel.
Perhaps the greatest moment at a Celebration to date, though, has to be the 40th anniversary panel at Celebration Orlando in 2017. It was just very, very special from start to finish, filled with cast and creators from Mark Hamill to Dave Filoni to a surprise appearance by George Lucas. When Billie Lourd came out on stage to eulogize her mother, Carrie Fisher, in a beautiful tribute, the emotion in the crowd was real. At the end, the right-stage curtain dropped to reveal John Williams and an entire orchestra — a completely unexpected surprise and the perfect example of what kind of magic can happen at Celebration.
What’s your favorite Celebration moment? Let us know in the comments below!
Tickets are now available for Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019.