Gaming fans are being invited to take a trip down memory lane this weekend when an arcade and video game expo returns to Blackpool.
And Play Blackpool, formerly known as the Retro Games Expo, is expected to provide a huge boost to the local economy, with around 4,000 enthusiasts expected.
Organisers say around 40 per cent of attendees came from outside the Fylde coast area last time the event was held in the resort in 2011, meaning a bumper Bank Holiday weekend could be in store for hoteliers, shops, bars and restaurants.
The festival will again take place at Norbreck Castle
Exhibition Centre on Queen’s Promenade, where it was last held before moving to Event City at the Trafford Centre in Manchester in 2012.
It will feature more than 80 free-to-play arcade
machines like Donkey Kong, Pacman and Space Invaders, new games including the latest versions of Call of Duty and Fifa and a trade hall offering merchandise and collectors items. People will be able to enjoy playing classic computers and consoles, including Amstrads, Commodores, as well as PlayStation and Xboxes. There will be gaming tournaments and a Cosplay (costume play) competition each day, in which visitors dressed in home-made costumes as characters from the real or virtual worlds will compete for prizes.
Event founder Andy Brown, from Replay Gaming, said: “We have a massive arcade game heritage and people will be able to relive that and go back to their childhood, but we will also have lots of new stuff and the difference now is that there are so many smaller independent games creators.”
Andy, who lives in Blackpool, said more advance tickets had been sold than last time the event was in the
resort, when 3,500 came.
“We are expecting it to be a lot busier and people have come from all over for it in the past, including Iceland, France and Italy,” he added.
Lee Revill, deputy manager at Game Dojo on The Crescent, St Annes, which will have a stand at the event, said: “We will get more business than we would in a normal day in the shop, but it is just a great atmosphere and a nice way to spend the weekend.”
Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group Stay Blackpool, said: “An event like this attracting those sort of numbers is absolutely brilliant for Blackpool.”
The show runs from 10:30am-6:30pm on Saturday May 3 and Sunday May 4. Tickets cost £12 in advance or £13 on the door, with £5 off for concessions, while one-day and weekend family deals are also available.