Convention Review

Dublin 2019

An Irish Worldcon

The 77th World Science Fiction Convention
was held in Dublin, Ireland, 15th - 19th August 2019.
Marcin “Alqua” Klak reports.


Hugo & Retro Hugo Awards
Worldcon is about meeting friends
Other activities
Dublin 2019 an Irish Worldcon and onwards


First of all, when judging Dublin 2019 an Irish Worldcon, I must mention I am biased: I simply love Worldcons; secondly, I was involved in this one both before the con (working on literature programme and in promotions) and during the con (gophering – 'go-fetching').  Yet I will do my best to describe the Dublin experience; just please keep in mind that this is my prejudiced experience of first ever Worldcon in Ireland.


It should be of no surprise to anyone observing recent European Worldcons that there were crowds in Dublin.  The team did a lot to promote the event both in regular international Worldcon circles and locally (in Ireland) among fans who may have never before been to Worldcon.  It should be enough to say that, at certain point before the con, all of the reserved “First Worldcon” memberships were sold out and that later the substantive, total number of memberships sold resulted in the decision being made to have no at-the door passes being sold during the convention itself.  Nonetheless, there were a lot of people at Dublin's first Worldcon.

The first day of the con saw the biggest crowds (or so they appeared to me).  From the second day onwards matters improved: a queuing system was introduced and when I was walking around the principal venue – the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) – it was quite easy to get about. Here you should know that the Worldcon had also spaces outside of CCD (including but not limited to a few programme rooms in nearby Odeon cinema) but with exception to one programme item I spent whole my time in CCD and so I missed the Art show that was located elsewhere.

It was not always possible to get into the programme rooms as sometimes fan interest in an item was greater than its venue room's capacity.  Yet I did manage to attend quite a few items and some of even had a number of free seats (sometimes this was even a significant number).


Hugos, Retro Hugos and other big events
It is known that certain programme items will attract the attention of many fans. These events especially include the Hugo Awards ceremony among a few others (such as the costume masquarade).  The venue for these extravaganza events was the CCD Auditorium.  It was located at the Centre's top levels with access points on each. So developing a good queuing and seating system was important otherwise fans queuing to enter might block whole building.  Dublin 2019 ended up using a system that some people found wrong but all in all I believe it was a good option.

What they decided to do was this.  In order to get to any of the big evening extravaganza events, one had to collect in advance a wristband that was distributed by the “Box office” on the day of the event.  When choosing a wristband one had the option to choose to enter 30 or 60 minutes before the event as well as to choose the balconies or the Auditorium's lower level.  This separate time and point of entry system allowed for easier queuing and also cut the queue's length at any one time potentially by half.  Collection of the wristbands was, of course, an additional hassle for those seeking to attend that some people found frustrating but, considering the building's layout, it probably saved a lot of frustration.

Combining the Opening Ceremony with the Retro Hugos (the Hugos that would have been awarded in 1944 had there been a WWII wartime Worldcon then) was welcome. It ended up being a good balance between strict official parts and those with a little bit of humour. There were also artistic dimensions included: a theatrical spectacle and a short Key of D choir concert.  I enjoyed my time.  What slightly surprised me was that the artist who made the 2019 Hugo Award bases presented his design at the opening ceremony (I thought that it would be revealed during the subsequent Hugo ceremony). I will not comment all of the awards presented that evening but the Big Heart Award went to Alice Lawson and I was really happy for that – she definitely deserves it.

I cannot comment too much on the two, probably most interesting to many, events – the Masquerade and the Hugo Awards Ceremony: the first I did not attend and the second I was watching from the backstage as I was involved in running the Ceremony.  I may only mention that the music performed live for In Memoriam by the Irish Video Game Orchestra was astounding and it really helped frame thinking about the ones we in the SF community lost the previous 12 months, including SF² Concatenation's co-founding editor.

One thing being behind the scenes of Hugo ceremony gave me was the possibility to see the winners just after they accepted their award; it was a great pleasure and honour to witness their happiness and pure joy.

The Closing Ceremony was really delightful.  Instead of being very serious it was just the opposite: a lot of humour and loose atmosphere made it really remarkable. Many of the jokes related to drinking beer: there is a very significant social side to Worldcons.  The Fan Funds delegates' contribution was limited to them going on stage saying “cheers” and drinking their pint.  Also the Guests of Honour made a short appearance mainly to wave their hands and also drink beer. I think this was my favourite closing ceremony of all three Europeans Worldcons I had to date attended (2014, 2017 and this one, 2019).


Worldcon is usually huge on programming. When I check the programme, it shows that there were 1,425 programme items (from small Kaffeeklatsches [several meeting an author/editor for coffee], through autograph sessions up to the Hugo Awards ceremony).  There was simply a lot to choose from whether one was interested in literature, science, music or fandom.  As mentioned, some items were so popular that rooms were not able to accommodate everyone. In fact, the same was the case at the two most recent previous European Worldcons in Helsinki and London.

At this Worldcon, I was surprised by large number of concerts – there were over 30!  This is certainly higher than those in Helsinki but I am not sure whether it was more than took place in London?  Music lovers also had the possibility to participate in evening filk circles: every night two smaller programme rooms were dedicated to filking.

Some of interesting programme items took place at the Second Stage – a bigger room with plenty of seats.  These included the morning (10 AM) panels about space exploration – 'Apollo at 50' and 'Artemis: Apollo’s big sister'.  It was also the Second Stage where the musical The Enchanted Duplicator took place – I really enjoyed it.  I really regret that I missed 'Send in the crones: older women in SFF' panel as I was really hoping to attend it: there were around 17 parallel programme streams so it was impossible to attend everything.


Worldcon is about meeting friends
There were a few spaces in CCD when one could meet others.  One natural place to meet up was the building's lobby from where one could then go for lunch or dinner in the city.  For those preferring not to go out, there the CCD had a food court/restaurant area with tables and also a bar. The latter was in quite large room filled with some couches and tables – it was perfect for mingling.

The bar was named “Martin’s” to commemorate the recently deceased fan – Martin Hoare.  It was really sad news to learn that shortly before the Worldcon that this fellow fan (and also a member of the convention's staff) died and so would not be able to attend this nor any other convention again.


Other activities
Although to my taste, the programme, Hugos and meeting with other fans are the most important Worldcon dimensions, one cannot forget about other things.  As I have already mentioned, I missed the Art show and almost everything else that was not located in CCD but at least I had the chance to spend some time in Dealers Hall where there was also part of the exhibitions (those were on the Ground level in CCD).

The Dealers hall was quite large and it was possible to have wide alleys between different stalls.  This was really important as this way the area was not blocked by people selecting ad buying goods.  Apart from the dealers there were also fan tables for various groups and future conventions and convention bids– it was easy to support a few forthcoming conventions.

When it comes to the assortment of dealers, there were some publishers, bookshop dealers as well as a few artists.  Being a big Tolkien fan I must mention the table of Tolkien Shop from Holland – they had a large variety of interesting products (including a large bronze bust of Tolkien himself).

I did not spent too much time in the exhibitions area so only a few displays caught my attention. First was the exhibit devoted to the Guests of Honour – it made for an interesting and quick way to learn something new about our guests.  Secondly there was a DeLorean car from Back to the Future and a bridge from Star Trek's USS Cuchulain.


Dublin 2019 an Irish Worldcon and onwards
I think that one of the greatest success of Dublin 2019 Worldcon is the number of First Time attendees.  I am not sure how many such memberships were sold but at certain point in time all of those allocated that discounted category were bought. This means that Dublin 2019 team was able to attract more people than they expected to start their adventure with Worldcons. I am not sure how many of them will attend future Worldcons but I hope that at least some will.

Reflecting on the Dublin 2019 an Irish Worldcon I think there is one important lesson to future Worldcons – queue management!  Considering number of participants and size of the venues it may be good to develop a good and efficient queue handling system before the con so that it can be implemented form day 1 (if needed).


It is really difficult to cover Worldcon in a short report.  The convention lasted for five days (and considering I was helping during the Move-In set-up days, even seven) and a lot of things happens in such a long time. I had the time to: do some programming; chat with friends; make some new ones; and enjoy the unforgettable atmosphere.

The first I attended – Loncon 3 – made me to fall in love with Worldcons.  The second in Helsinki ensured me in this love and now, after Dublin 2019, I know it was not a mistake and I am already longing for the next Worldcon I might be able to attend.

Marcin “Alqua” Klak

Marcin “Alqua” Klak is a fan form Poland who loves conventions and exploring fandom in different countries. He regularly blogs about conventions he visits and about other fannish matters on his blog:  In 2018 he was a GUFF (Get Up-and-under Fan Fund) delegate to attend Continuum XIV in Melbourne, Australia.  Currently, he chairs the SFF club in his home city of Kraków.


See also Sue's take on the Dublin 2019 Worldcon.


Other 2019 Dublin Worldcon news elsewhere on this site includes that on our seasonal autumn 2019 news page, other Dublin coverage can be found that includes: a brief comment on the programme and our usual comprehensive listing of science programme items. Plus there is news of the 2019 World SF Society business meetings.


[Up: Convention Reviews Index | Home Page: Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation]

[Article Index | Recent Site Additions | Most recent Seasonal Science Fiction News]

[Updated: 20.1.15 | Contact | Copyright | Privacy]