November will see the return of Ringcon the annual fantasy convention in Bonn, Germany.
Once you have gotten over the shock of the drum-playing Orcs and negotiated your way past the imposing Nazgul you start to realise you’re at one of the best conventions the world has to offer.
Ringcon is a fantasy fan convention that goes way beyond your expectations.
It has a stunning programme of shows, seminars and workshops starting from 9am and running right into the night. Whether you are interested in academic lectures, dance lessons or movie makeup tutorials there is definitely something for everyone. But the main reason for the large attendance is the chance to get up close and personal with all the favourite Sci-fi and fantasy stars from film and TV.
Autograph signings, photoshoots and live talks by the stars, give the fans an overdose of celebrity exposure with many of the stars socialising at the after-show parties, more than happy to chat to the fans way into the small hours.
The show’s creator is Dirk Bartholomä, who I got to know after he put on a fire-breathing display at the Greisinger Museum launch party in Switzerland, is someone I wanted to know more about and the stunning shows he pulls together.
JJ: You developed Ringcon into one of Europe’s biggest cons – what first got you interested in taking on a project like this and how did you get involved?
DB: I got approached by Marcel Aubron-Bullës from the German Tolkien Society and Stefan Servos who was running the largest Lord of the Rings fan page here in Germany. So together we organised the very first Ringcon event in 2002.
JJ: What is the hardest thing about putting on a show of this size and scale?
DB: The programming of this event is really a beast. We have to coordinate 15-20 actors and more than 30 intellectuals who are doing readings, workshops, lectures, discussions and exhibitions. We are talking about 250 things we have to fit into 3 days of program.
JJ: You have movie and TV stars from all over the world attending your cons. Who did you enjoy meeting the most and why?
DB: Hmm, I had many nice encounters. But one of the nicest guys was Luke Evans who played Bard in the Hobbit movies. He is a really down to earth guy, we were sitting together late at night with some people and talked about family, kids and life in general, it was a very nice night.
JJ: There is a great atmosphere at the show with fans coming from all around the world – how do you make them welcome?
DB: That’s a tough question. But I think the answer to this is, I am really a hardcore fan myself and I always try to imagine how I would like the convention I am about to go to, to be. So we have nice decoration, music, a great MC (Mark Ferguson who played a role in the first LotR movie), great staff, and most important the parties we have every night in the hotel bar and on the dance floor with many actors attending.
JJ: What new experiences can fans expect at Ringcon this November?
DB: Pretty new is our Outlander special. For the first time, we not only have 4 main actors from a current series, we also have the wonderful and very talented creator of the show, book author Diana Gabaldon there. Also we have 2 actors performing at the evening parties (Finn Jones will be DJing, and Chase Colman is going to do Karaoke with the fans).
JJ: What sort of show would you like to do next and where?
DB: I would love to do a James Bond convention in a nice classy hotel.
JJ: What is your proudest achievement about the shows?
DB: With our personal connections, we got actors who usually never go to conventions or only very rarely, attend those kind of shows.
Thanks to Dirk for sparing the time to give us a bit more insight into his world.
The setting is one of the largest convention centres in Bonn, originally a meeting point for large political gatherings and corporation seminars. The Maritim boasts venue rooms holding up to 2800 people in the largest hall, along with 15 additional conference rooms, pool, sauna, steam bath and fitness centre ample eating areas and a great bar to party the night away.
Food is easily available and great value from the kiosks – a bowl of pasta will cost you about €5. There are also a great selection of restaurants within 5 to 10 minutes walk or a short taxi ride away. A great show at a stunning venue, well worth a visit.