TitanCon is a collaboration between several different groups who have joined together to reach a common goal. On one side is the Brotherhood Without Banners who wanted to put on a fan convention for Game of Thrones in Belfast and on the other is Belfast SF/F society The Other Ones which includes Logan Bruce from Studio NI who wanted to put on a SF/F convention in Belfast. And on the third side - did I mention there are three sides? Well there are, there's three sides - is Arkham Gaming Centre and TableTopNorth who wanted to put on a gaming convention in Belfast. The collaboration began on a Sunday evening in Dublin at Octocon 2010...
But before we get into that history some of you may want to know who these organisations are.
The BWB are the largest and most well known GRRM fangroup. The BWB are by no means the only fangroup in the world and they are certainly not the official fangroup. There are fangroups in Spain, Italy, Russia, Poland, all across Europe in fact and several smaller English speaking groups too. But because of our size and the fact that so many BWB members are extremely dedicated, travelling all over the world to conventions and events, we think of ourselves as the Unofficial-Official GRRM fangroup. George's position has always been to not have an official fan club because he wants to embrace all fandom and won't exclude someone just because they are not a fully paid up member or some such BS like that. And the BWB is run with that same kind of open and embracing policy. There's no membership fee, no secret sign you have to know, no initiation rites, you don't have to sacrifice animals or your first born child, none of that. All you have to do is say you are a Brother and you are. Well that and post on the Westeros forum obviously.
Westeros is a GRRM fan forum for A Song of Ice and Fire and has been in operation for over 12 years. The Westeros forum has some special secret ability for attracting intelligent erudite strong minded individuals and has an incredible atmosphere that is both very friendly and welcoming but also challenges you to bring your best arguments to the table. Discussion threads are deep, thought provoking, rich in knowledge from experts in their field and extremely enlightening. Well maybe not all threads are like that, we have our fair share of silly, stupid and funny topics too. But throughout the forum you will always find this strong sense of community and the BWB was born out of that community. Prince Lodey got things off the ground in July 2000 and he created the BWB standard (it's not a banner!) which has become our logo. Lodey led the BWB through our early years up until 2006 when Stego took over the reins which he still holds today.
If you've been to a WorldCon over the last 11 years the chances are you've heard of the BWB and our world famous parties. At LAcon in 2006 we had a human chess match between George RR Martin and Daniel Abraham with fans dressed up as the Highgarden and Dorne chess pieces. At AussieCon 2010 we ended up hosting a party in a nightclub after the hotel let us down, there's nothing like seeing SF/F convention geeks dancing right next to regular club goers in their tiny spray on dresses. That night could have been a disaster but we turned it into a spectacular success.
The other thing that the BWB are known for is a lot of hard work for charity and volunteering. The BWB has always made donations to charities and at the past two WorldCons theMountainGoat has organised an AWESOME Charity Book Prize Draw Raffle Thing which has been extremely successful raising CA $204 in Montreal (2009) and AUS $1144 in Melbourne (2010) for children's literacy charity Teachers & Writers Collaborative based in New York City (www.twc.org).
Many BWB members are dedicated volunteers at WorldCon, Boskone and dozens of other conventions across North America and Europe, some even getting involved in programme ops and convention organisation. In fact hosting a fan convention for GRRM was one of the original goals when the BWB first got started and last year Parris McBride-Martin said that she felt the BWB were finally ready to hold their own convention. Thus firing off the imagination of theMountainGoat...
Studio NI is the largest Arts and Culture group in the Northern half of Ireland. In partnership with other groups it runs several annual events, including the NiNoWriMo (Northern Ireland Novel Writing Month) contest and Belfringe (Belfast Fringe Festival). The group's chosen charity is Action Cancer Charity, and Studio NI has run a number of successful fund-raising.
Studio NI grew out of Belfast-based film-making group Screenwriters Ink and its annual Project Norma contest. It now includes almost two thousand writers, film-makers and artistes from Donegal to Dublin.
Studio NI has facilitated dozens of locally-made films and other artistic projects, allowing film-makers to network and gain experience. The existence of a large community of experienced film-makers in the region was essential for HBO when they had to recruit a crew for Game of Thrones. See our listing on IMDB for details.
Logan Bruce (although everyone just calls him Bruce) is also a member of The Other Ones which is a science fiction and fantasy fan group in Belfast. The Other Ones are a friendly and active group of fans who meet every Wednesday evening in Bar Twelve, opposite the Empire/Botanic Train Station, Belfast. They also hold regular gaming sessions and cinema trips to see the latest SF/F releases. Anyone looking for like minded SF/F fans in Belfast is welcome to come along to any of our meetings and get involved.
Several members of The Other Ones, including Bruce, were involved with MECON which was a SF/F convention held in Belfast and ran for 11 years up until 2008. After the MECON committee disbanded three of its members, Bruce, Ian and Shane wanted to start up a new convention to take its place and they had just been looking for the right opportunity to come along...
In 2009 HBO announced that they would be making a pilot episode of Game of Thrones to be filmed in Belfast. To coincide with the filming George decided to travel over for his first ever signing event in Northern Ireland and as ever he invited the BWB to a Moot after the signing to which he "might" bring along some cast members too. Fans were thrilled to meet some of the cast and crew members for the first time including Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Richard Madden (Robb Stark), Ron Donachie (Rodrik Cassell), Esme Bianco (Ros), Visual Effects Producer Julia Frey and weapons advisor and combat choreographer Paul Hardwyck. Full report available here (Word format document named Ireland 2009).
It was after that first moot that theMountainGoat floated the idea of a fan convention for the show to be held in Belfast. But at that time we could not be sure that the show would even go into full production and we did not have enough contacts and people with con running experience in Belfast, we knew that the BWB could not put on a convention like this on our own.
Then at WorldCon 2010 in Melbourne Australia theMountainGoat asked Parris if we could have a second moot in Belfast when George goes back to Ireland for Octocon in Dublin and then on to Belfast a couple of weeks later. She was extremely excited by the idea and tasked theMountainGoat with getting it organised. By the time Octocon came around everything was ready, a venue was arranged and booked by BWB and Winter-is-Coming contributors Silverjaime and Rimshot, date and time announced on Westeros and over 50 people signed up for the guestlist and to receive details of the venue privately to prevent gatecrashers. We had invite cards printed for George to hand out to the cast and crew. Kristian Nairn who plays Hodor in the series was also at Octocon and he took some posters back to the production office for us to help promote Moot 2.
It was at Octocon that theMountainGoat got talking to some of the other BWB members about the possibility of upgrading the Moots to being a full blown convention. A great idea but how do we get there? An hour or so later theMountainGoat met up with Bruce, they had met before at the first Belfast Moot in 2009 and by one of those cosmic events of happenstance Bruce wanted to invite the BWB to join up with his group to put on a convention in Belfast. theMountainGoat spoke with George and Parris about the idea over breakfast the next morning and they were supportive and gave solid and realistic advice about what our expectations should be and how to get started.
Two weeks later, on the night before Moot 2, theMountainGoat travelled to Belfast and met up with Bruce and The Other Ones to discuss the proposal. We layed out some very optimistic plans that night which have been vastly scaled back for this event in 2011 but we've still got those big dreams in the back of our minds for where this convention could go to in the future.
But back to the history - Moot 2 was a huge success with many cast members attending including Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon), Gethin Anthony (Renly Baratheon), Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell), Jamie Sives (Jory Cassell), Miltos Yerelemou (Syrio Forel), Eugene Simon (Lancel Lannister), John Bradley-West (Samwell Tarly), Josef Altin (Pypar), Mark Stanley (Grenn), Luke McEwan (Rast), Kit Harrington (Jon Snow), James Cosmo (Jeor Mormont), Kristian Nairn (Hodor), episode writer Bryan Cogman, storyboarder William Simpson and a whole host of extras. Reports on the 2010 Moot can be found on Westeros and Winter-is-Coming.
Over the next four months after Moot 2 a convention committee was formed, the details were hammered out by email discussion and meetings in Belfast, we chose a name for the event, arranged our first Guest of Honour, purchased a website domain and finally reached the point where we were ready to announce TitanCon and start selling memberships.
On 27 April 2011 Arkham Gaming Centre and TableTopNorth joined forces with us to take on the running of the entire gaming tract at TitanCon. Arkham and TTN had been considering starting up a gaming convention of their own and TitanCon proved to be a great opportunity for them to have autonomous reign of their own programming and events.
Arkham Gaming Centre offers a unique venue for gamers. Located in the beautiful but enigmatic village of Gleno (near Larne), it's a haven for wargamers, roleplayers, boardgamers, CCG and not forgetting the keen hobbyist. The grounds and surroundings are perfect for LARP events and weather permitting Arkham even offer outdoor gaming tables.
Arkham's gaming space includes eight tournament sized (8'x4') terrained tabletop wargames tables (wastes, desert or forest), two 4'x'4 tables for board/card games, four multi-purpose gaming tables which can be used for board, card or wargames (option of blue for sea games or black for space games). In addition there is 'The Morgue' - a private gaming room with an 8'x4' morgue effect table. This room is best suited to a role playing group game, but if available can be used for any gaming activity.
Also on offer is an unrivaled selection of merchandise available to purchase - discover products here which have previously been unavailable in Ireland, including products from Warlord Games, Mantic, Perry Miniatures, Army Painter, Battlefront (Flames of War), Spartan Games, Kabuki Models, Otherworld Miniatures, and of course Games Workshop.
Facilities on offer include a leather sofa lounge area with Sky HDTV, tea/coffee making facilities, a microwave and a vending machine for snacks and soft drinks. In short Arkham is a gamers Gaming Centre. Check out Arkham's promo video directed by and starring TitanCon 2011 guest George Clarke from Yellow Fever Productions.
UPDATE: Arkham Gaming Centre closed in early 2012 after the owners' decision to be a dedicated father to his first child born shortly thereafter.
TableTopNorth, or TTN as it affectionately known, is a club set up to support gamers and gaming in the North of Ireland and in particular in the Belfast area. The club has no particular bias toward any form of gaming and instead encourages a passion towards gaming in general. Currently TTN offers Warhammer 40K and Bloodbowl, Pathfinder, Cyberpunk 2020 and Call of Cthulhu roleplaying games, Field of Glory and DBMM wargames and the fascinating Go boardgame. Many other games and game system are enjoyed at the club and they are always looking to expand their horizons to new games.
Tabletopnorth makes use of the Belfast Boatclub for the venue of their regular Monday game nights (opening hours 7pm to 11pm). The Boatclub is a friendly and relaxed setting with a bar and restaurant and private car-parking. The function room where the club normally meets is a large split-level room with an area for five to six roleplaying or boardgaming tables and a lower section which can house up to 9 wargaming tables. There are dedicated toilets adjioning the function room and access to the bar. One wall of the room is full length glass windows overlooking the tennis courts and allow ample light in to the function room in the evenings. Vending machines and tea/coffee facilities are available.
The club is very welcoming and though TTN has an adult only rule they are always happy to see visitors whether you're just along for the evening or intend to become a full member. The club is very reasonable and only charges £2 per night or £40 for a full year's membership. Come along and make yourself at home.
TitanCon 2011 took place at the Europa Hotel, Belfast on Saturday 24 September 2011. The event was a huge success with 240 attending members through the doors. In addition 107 people attended the Game of Thrones Coach Tour on Sunday 25 September 2011.
Almost everything went according to plan and although it was a lot of hard work behind the scenes everyone left having had a fantastic weekend. Please see our old TitanCon 2011 web pages for more details about who our guests were and what happened at our first convention.
Arkham Gaming Centre had to drop out of the running of the convention in early 2012 after it closed due to the owners' decision to be a dedicated father to his first child born shortly thereafter.
TitanCon 2012 took place at the Europa Hotel, Belfast on Saturday 22 September 2012. The convention was a huge success with 250 attending members through the doors. In addition 167 people attended the Game of Thrones Coach Tour on Sunday 23 September 2012.
In 2013 TitanCon moved to a new venue at the Wellington Park Hotel which offered affordable room deals alongside fantastic convention facilities all on one floor which made things much easier to manage and navigate around. With a large number of attendees and guests staying in the hotel it created a wonderful and friendly atmosphere that lasted throughout the entire weekend.
Behind the scenes we experienced a rollercoaster of emotions with many challenging organisational difficulties including lower than expected number of attendees and volunteers, last minute guest line up changes, very last minute confirmation of our Arts Council funding grant, badly cropped photographs and a timetable that by the end of the day had slipped to an hour behind schedule. And yet despite the problems we faced people tell us that TitanCon 2013 was our best convention yet!
Please click on the logo below to take you to our old pages for each year.