Photo: Duncan, Graham, Lotte, Finn and Grant at The Gathering 2016
The Gathering 2017, in Cologne, Germany is coming up the weekend of March 10-12, and there’s a great lineup. I’ve been to three Outlander fan conventions so far- all very different experiences, some I would repeat, and some not. I would definitely repeat this one.
Elke, who runs this convention, is a good egg, and she works very hard to create an experience that allows attendees, artists, and her volunteers to feel welcome and comfortable. It’s small and relaxed, and you won’t find anything like this in the states. One lasting impression for me from 2016 is Elke sitting on stage and genuinely asking for our feedback (thanks to
@bluekako for being my translator and German teacher). She asked what worked and what didn’t, and she listened respectfully and has worked hard to incorporate suggestions. To me, that is true customer care. She also graciously acknowledged her staff as being key to the success of the weekend, which is another quality I value.
Before I recount my experience of the 2016 event, I’ll just give Elke a wee plug here, and say that her convention is a great time, and easy to combine with a hop over to Scotland. I don’t speak a lick of German, and I had a fantastic time. If you already reside in Europe, you really should go.
The 2017 Gathering promises QUITE a line up.
Just announced as a bonus guest is our amazing Roger, Rik Rankin 😀. I’ve not met Rik yet, but he seems like a lot of fun. This is Rik’s first fan convention. For more about Rik, CLICK HERE
This Lovable Pair will be there. Grant is returning from last year. A stand up comedian as well as actor, Grant is verra entertaining at these events. My experience is that he genuinely likes meeting and getting to know fans, he’s a really good guy, and he’s always up for a beer! 😜 Stephen is the softer sweeter one, with a gigantic heart. He is very thoughtful in his answers and a genuine down to earth person. He’s a beautiful musician too, (as you guys know).
In the line up is this trouble maker- guaranteed to make it fun (if a bit naughty), Mr. Steven Cree (Ian Murray). He and Rik Rankin should be an interesting pair.
Our Bonnie Prince will be there… Andrew Gower, who’s not only a great prince but a very talented singer as well. (CLICK HERE to see a video of Andrew Gower singing)
Fans will be treated to the humble and honey voiced Gillebride MacMillan, whom we all know as Gwyllyn the Bard from Season 1. He sang and taught Gaelic at the Gathering 2016, and he did a special encore performance for those of us who lingered at the cocktail party. His music _may_ have even inspired a spontaneous improvisational dance accompaniment. I did say there was a cocktail party, ahem.
Just announced, we have a couple!! 🎶Reunited and it feels so good🎵…. Yes, lovely Mary Hawkins, aka Rosie Day will be joining the party on Sunday…
along with her tragic true love Alex Randall, actor Laurence Dobiesz (who was already scheduled to attend, and will be there all weekend).
Last, and certainly not least, everyone knows this sweet face – Scott Kyle, who played Ross in Season 2, joins The Gathering 2017 as a bonus guest. It’ll be great to meet him! (Bonus guest means the person was added later, so charges for autographs and pics with him will be outside of the original package).
2017 promises to be a great convention! CLICK HERE to get more information and to buy tickets to The Gathering 2017. If you are an OutlanderBTS.com Patron and are thinking of going, be sure to check your email from me before you purchase.
OK, on to my 2016 experience…
It was my first trip to Germany, which was exciting, I flew from Denver into Frankfurt, and then took a train to Cologne, which was brilliant.
Cologne was rainy in March 2016, but beautiful nonetheless. This photo was taken from my taxi, on the way to the hotel. The famous Cologne Cathedral is on the left.
Here is a shot taken from the top of the cathedral the next day when a group of fans went on a tour of the cathedral with Graham and Lotte.
Here is Graham with a group of fans, learning about the cathedral.
Lotte in front of the cathedral
Photo: Lotte’s Twitter account
I stayed at the Mercure hotel in Cologne, which adjoins with the venue. The room was nice and quiet, and the hotel had good service and good food.
It was a long travel “day” and I was happy to finally go to sleep Thursday night.
(For you book preservationists, I bought this mini sized DIA at a used bookstore, knowing it would have to endure the wear and tear of mucho travel 😬)
On Friday, I poked around town near the hotel, relaxed, and drank lots of coffee 😴
Registration was at 4:00PM, and we got our welcome packets. We were able to sign up for extra sessions and events then too.
I ran into some Twitter acquaintances in line and we introduced ourselves, which was nice. Lots of souvenirs and Scottish wares were on sale in the main lobby.
Here’s a look at my welcome packet– it contained a badge, a lanyard, chapstick, and tickets for each activity that was included with the my package. There was also a folder provided in which to keep photos and autographs.
I’d signed up for a dinner out with Graham, so Friday evening a group of us met in the lobby and headed over by metro to a pub.
We (collectively) chatted for a couple of hours about kids, some of Graham’s Outlander experiences, what he’d wanted to be when he grew up, his Outlander casting, etc. We had delicious beer, and I had my first Schnitzel in Germany (Graham had the same thing). It was a really nice evening.
After dinner, a group of us went over to a friend’s house and had lots of laughs. We’d communicated on Twitter for some time, and it was so fun to meet and hang out in person. I stayed up waaaaay too late for a person with jet lag, but I wouldn’t trade it!
Saturday morning we gathered in the main hall…
for a brief introduction and panel with the actors who were present; Annette Badland had to work and arrived the next day. Here’s a shot of everyone: Graham, Duncan, Grant, Finn, and Lotte. Sam was originally scheduled to be there, but had a conflict and had to cancel. I was disappointed at first (of course), but ended up having a fantastic time anyway.
After that, we lined up for our first photos with Graham and Duncan. The photo you get is great, but my favorite part was getting to meet all the guys and have a brief one-on-one convo. They were troopers, so gracious and welcoming to everyone, and fun. Duncan is a snuggler! Here is a wee video of those photo sessions. I love how genuinely excited Graham is to see this adorable “Mrs. Fitz” (right after posing with Black Jack Randall!) In case you can’t hear him, he’s saying “Look! It’s Mrs. Fitz, Duncan!” So cute.
Here are my shots with Graham and Duncan from that session. It does feel a bit like a prom picture! 😀 😂
There were panels throughout both days with different combinations of actors. During these, you’re free to take photos, which we all did, and members of the audience asked questions too. In between panels and photo sessions were autographs- another nice chance to chat with each actor.
Here is a sweet little interaction between Graham and a fan…
Later that day, there was a whisky tasting, during which Claire on her wedding day, a druid, Mrs. Fitz, and Black Jack Randall all companionably shared a drink (along with several other tables of fans). I’m told the whisky tasting was quite fun, although I did not attend.
To Be Continued…