Viencon started as a meetup of friends who shared a love of Anime, Cosplay, and Nendoroid (mini figurines) photography. The group grew and last year they made the huge step of hiring out a Center Parcs for “a convention that feels like a vacation”. For the second year running, I joined a mix of cosplayers and photographers and journeyed to the south of The Netherlands with bags full of cosplays, cameras, and swimwear.
Travelling to the event is pretty straight forward, I preferred the Eurostar so I can bring plenty of luggage and have a longer holiday en route, but others flew to directly to nearby airports or drove. The Netherlands has a very efficient railway system and Viencon laid on coaches from the nearest train station so no need for cars or taxis. You can even use the UK Trainline app to book your train tickets. Our cabin group met up in Eindhoven the night before con and enjoyed an eclectic meal in the Down Town Gourmet Market where you can pick your meal from over 20 street style vendors. The potato platter was something a bit different from the usual jacket potato!
Viencon is very much about the cosplay and Limburgse Peel Center Parcs offers a variety of locations for daytime photoshoots from sandpits to playgrounds and from trees to waterfalls. By mid-afternoon there were photoshoots popping up all over – some booked in and others open to snapping all the cosplays on offer. Keep an eye out on the Viencon Meets… Facebook group where most people make plans before they arrive.
This year the Viencon Gophers started the House Games – everyone could pick a team (Go Sharks!) and throughout the weekend they had different events to gain points for your team. It added an extra something to the weekend and started some friendly rivalry. Through the afternoon there is a mix of events from Anime quizzes, talks on cosplay and photography, a spicy food competition and my personal favourite, beer tasting!
I was encouraged to join in with the Saturday Cosplay Catwalk on the main stage – we introduced ourselves, gave a twirl to the audience and cameras and then got to admire the other costumes. As someone who isn’t always that confident in cosplay and wouldn’t enter a competition, it was a nice way to show off my costume in a friendly environment and support others too.
Outside there was Matsuri Festival with some traditional Japanese games. I had a fun time collecting goldfish with a paper scoop – harder than it sounds! It got quite competitive and there were some good prizes for the top scores plus a variety of small prizes for everyone who won. Inside there was karaoke and gaming open till late so there’s always something to do.
The biggest pull for me is the chance to cosplay in the tropical swimming pool – something which most of us will never get the chance to do. Each evening the pool is reopened for convention attendees – for safety reasons they do bag checks and breathalyser tests so no risk of drunken silliness knocking cameras into the pool (although a few photographers take the risk of jumping in themselves!). The pool is busy every night with photoshoots all around, water fights on inflatables and lots of cosplay selfies – it’s quite an experience to see and makes the trip over well worth it. I really enjoyed my Ursula pool photoshoot and it’s inspired me to plan more for next year too.
After the pool is closed the private bar is opened for happy hour with entertainment from gaming, karaoke and Deshima Sounds. The late-night does mean that there’s not much going on until 11 am in the daytime – ideal if you want a quiet photo shoot or just a lay in! There’s plenty to explore around the Parc in the morning – or visit the pool with the normal holidaymakers.
Like many European cons, there is a heavy Anime focus on the cosplay also mixed in with Baywatch and Disney. Unlike other cons you won’t get autographs from guests or find lots of stalls to buy from yet it is just the most chilled out con I’ve been to and I’ve had the best photos from there. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a holiday with a difference. I’m looking forward to next year’s Viencon held on 28th to 31st August 2020. They are doing very well at building on their success along with asking for and listening to feedback – hopefully one year they’ll take over the whole Center Parc!
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