HobbitCon must have been one of the best things to have happened to the Tolkien fandom.
A convention needs to group certain factors to be deemed as successful. HobbitCon in Bonn, Germany was more than that. It had something of its own, something unique which made it stand out from all other conventions, which tend to be almost the same, regardless of the location. First of all, HobbitCon has been kept as an exclusive, one-fandom event. It graced the small, cosy and quiet Bonn but took over the entire Maritim Hotel, a splendid and luxurious setting. It did that for four consecutive years and we would count more, hadn’t the organisers decided to make significant changes.
*Pictures above by Alina H.
If there is a word I heard being said over and over in relation to HC, it is “family”. Sounds like a cliché? In this case, it isn’t – whether it came from the fans or from the guests… and oh, what guests we had these years: Luke Evans, Billy Boyd, Graham McTavish, Sir Richard Taylor (WETA), Adam Brown, Sylvester McCoy, Ryan Gage, Royd Tolkien, Dean O’Gorman, Craig Parker, John Bell, Lawrence Makoare, John Callen, William Kircher and many more. Apart from the laughter-filled panels, the jokes, the gags, the fanfiction enactments (yes, that happened!) and so on, the fans got to mingle and party with the stars. Imagine a world where you can meet your favourite actor, have a drink and a chat with them during the best party you’ve ever been to, with everyone acting respectful and without those invisible yet impenetrable ‘celebrity walls’. That was the HobbitCon world and it was real.
It may be impossible to remember what was said and by whom, but I will always remember one thing: that each panel left me sore from so much laughing. I will remember Internet friends from other countries meeting, groups forming and getting reunited the next year. The bonds only got stronger. We could finally have a drink with those with whom we’ve spent long hours in the night talking about subplots in the movies or God knows what crazy detail about one or another character, especially after one of the films was released in theatres. HobbitCon was pure extravaganza, the ultimate con for some of the most dedicated Tolkien fans. It felt like a clan gathering.
Since we are talking about a convention, we couldn’t miss the cosplay part. Brilliant would not be enough a compliment to describe that. Let’s just say that some cosplayers managed to create such realistic costumes that your heart skipped a beat. You couldn’t help but gasp, for example when seeing a perfect regal armour Thorin walk by, tall and majestic, with that brooding look you only thought Richard Armitage could have. The level of the craft seen at the Costume Contest was unbelievable.
*Pictures above by Tygron Designs
I also loved the way the cosplay progressed from one year to another – from film heroes in specific moments (BOTFA Bilbo, AUJ Thorin, royal armour Fili etc.) to Silmarillion characters and even strange combinations like the superb “dragon sickness Thorin”. This is passion, dedication and imagination, taken to a level I have not seen before.
How about the duration? Three days on end, plus two late night parties that topped anything we might have labelled as ‘party’ before. These had their own special flavour: the glowstick madness, the hilarious costumes, altered to their party versions, the 90’s hit songs and so on. As for the mornings, hangovers would be handled with mellow, spontaneous singing of “I See Fire” or “The Last Goodbye”, as well as picnics in the hotel lobby.
*Pictures above by Alina H (left) and by Wenjin Lu (right).
HobbitCon is history, just like RingCon, but Maritim Hotel in Bonn will be welcoming Ringers next spring too, this time with a multi-fandom fantasy convention – MagicCon. Now, it’s up to the fans to make it glorious.
Alina H. is a freelance writer who earned a MA in Comparative Literature and Anthropology, took mythological study seriously, at the same time developing a long lasting passion for J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings. She does go to conventions at times and has a blast.