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2008 F.A.C.T.S. – Ghent, Belgium
by Joris De Smet
October 11-12, 2008

Good day to you, Jedi and welcome to the Jedi Travel Agency or JTA for short.

Since you ended up in our little corner of the Universe, we assume you have an interest in a little vacation away from the daily life of a Jedi and behold! The Force is with you; we have an exquisite destination in store for you.

   

For just over a 1000 Republic Credits you can book passage on one of our Luxury Space Cruisers headed for planet Earth.

Earth itself is inhabited by humans and the occasional alien. Its atmosphere, even if a bit polluted, is fit for any oxygen breather. If you’re not an oxygen breather, you will be thrilled to hear that any of our Cruisers carry a large assortment of inhalers and breathing packs. A little gas shouldn’t spoil the fun of being able to visit planet Earth!

F.A.C.T.S. Homepage

When you stay at Earth there’s certainly one event that we recommend visiting and that’s the FACTS Convention, which is held yearly in the International Congress Centre in Ghent. Please indulge us while we will explain you what pleasant surprises that Convention has in store for any of its visitors…

 

 

 


Convention Centre and facilities

The actual International Convention Center, nicknamed the ICC, is situated in the lush and green Citadel Park of Ghent. It is not allowed to head to the ICC immediately by starship as the facilities do not include their own docking bays. You’ll have to leave your starship in the Brussels Spaceport and take the local public transport to the city of Ghent from there. The ERT (Electric Rail Transport) will bring you to the “Gent Sint-Pieters” landing platform, which is conveniently located at walking distance of the Citadel Park. Be advised that tickets for this means of transport may already eat quite a substantial part of your spending budget, so it may be good to consider the alternatives.

The ICC can easily be reached with your landspeeder or speeder bike as well. The ICC premises include ample parking facilities to park you speeder or bike and it is certainly recommended to come with your own transport if you are planning on doing some extensive shopping. Be advised, though, that many humans, and aliens alike, will think the same way. Be early when you opt for this way of travelling so you are sure to find a free spot in the parking lot.

But instead of doing all the traveling on the Convention days themselves, we actually recommend that you’ll stay in one of the nice and cozy hostels that can be found in the city of Ghent. A fair number of them are only a brisk walk away from the Convention Center. They will offer anything anybody of humanoid form may desire to rest or freshen up.

If your phenotype doesn’t match the humanoid one, you may decide to rent one of our MHU’s (Mobile Home Unit) for the duration of the Convention.

Finding your way into the ICC will not be a difficult task: as soon as one hour before the Convention doors open on Saturday morning a very long queue of enthusiasts will point you to the entry gate.
Entry passes can be purchased there at the entrance. Note that, if you dress up as one of your favourite holovid characters, you’ll be granted a discount.
You equally have the opportunity to register for an Early Bird pass in advance if you’d like that. Even if these are slightly more expensive than the regular entrance ticket, they will grant you entry significantly earlier than the big crowd and are a very good option if you’d like to do most of your shopping quick and in the quiet.
Any entrance ticket will allow you to walk in and out of the Convention Centre.

There will be so much activity going on during the Convention that you’ll likely forget about your human -or alien- needs. Still, if your stomach (or equivalent thereof) starts to rumble and you’re looking for some wholesome nutritients; there are a few options.
For one thing, there will be a Cantina in the ICC itself. Droids are not allowed inside and will have to wait outside. Some of the munchings to be had there will be named with a wink at Star Wars, but are furthermore harmless.
If you are looking for something heartier than Binks Burgers, Palpatine Pancakes or Ewok Salads however, more food places can be found at walking distance of the Convention Centre.

If you decide to go to a Convention such as FACTS, chances are high that you’ll be spending some credits. Be advised that planet Earth is situated in the Outer Rim and as such doesn’t care much for Republic Credits as a currency. You’ll be required to exchange your Credits into the local Euro currency. At the moment of publication of this article, the exchange of the Republic Credit to the Euro is 0,78 to 1.

What the Convention is about…

We already said it: if you’re into shopping, then you certainly have come to the right location. Toys, low- and high-end collectibles from virtually any blockbuster holovid will be proffered on sale. FACTS is heaven for collectors. For the 2008 edition there were no less than 110 different sales houses from various Earth regions serving the fans.
If we may offer you some piece of advice: Tradesmen of the German Trade Federation are usually the cheapest; they may be susceptible to Jedi mind-tricks as well, so you can try suggesting lower prices and then especially on Sunday.

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But be forewarned; shopping is certainly not all that is to be done….

Holovid stars

Every year the FACTS organisation will invite a number of holovid actors and most of the time this will include one or more people from the infamous Star Wars saga, which is very popular on planet Earth.
The actors will sell autographed items, keep Q&A sessions on fixed times and will also keep themselves available for the making of holographic pictures. Of course it’s only polite that you’ll ask up front if you can take their picture before actually doing so! You should make the Convention experience a pleasant one for both the actors and yourselves! If you require help you should know that every actor will be accompanied by a person of the FACTS organisation who’ll be happy to help you out. To give you an idea of what to expect, we have included a summary of the guest star attendance for the last few years on this page.

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Dressing up and looking the part

When you wander the ICC premises during the Convention time you may notice many familiar-looking creatures, aliens and even Rebel and Imperial officials. Of course, they are not the real thing, but holovid fans dressing up as their favourite character.
Mind, however, that humans wearing a military-looking costume with a tag saying “Police” are Earth security force members.  You should follow up their directives promptly in case they address you.
On the topic of security: special rules with respect to carrying weapons on the Convention floor and outside have been issued and you must respect them. It is allowed to carry your weapon within the ICC premises; outside, however, you are kindly requested to at least conceal your weaponry in a bid not to alarm the local population. They are not used to the sight of weapons being carried around openly. Of course, brawls involving laser or other weapons are strictly forbidden as well.
At fixed times in the schedule, demonstrations and parades will be given involving the dressed-up fans. Those are the only times that weapons, both of the modern and ancient nature, can be put to use and then still only by the partaking fans.

Taking all of these directives into account, you may yet decide to come dressed up yourself and subscribe to the “Cosplay” competitions that will be held during the convention. If not, you should know that anybody in ordinary Jedi robes will equally be admitted to the Convention floor without any issue.
If you want to get into the art of costume building, then the Convention may be a good place to start. Not only will the Fan Village have many costumes on display; there are many fans who’ll be wanting to guide you in your first steps giving you valuable tips.

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Droid Factory

The Convention usually hosts a fair number of “R2 builders”. R2 units in various stages of completion will be on display and if that is something to your liking, you can engage in entertaining technical discussions with their makers. It is rumoured that even the Ultimate Maker, George Lucas has already shown some interest in the endeavours of these R2 builders, so that only emphasises the quality of the work they deliver.
The R2 units you’ll see will not all be powered down completely; some will be allowed to function to some extent. So if you’re bringing your own astromech droid to the Convention you should be careful not to let it out of sight. It may easily be lured into activating the units on display, which may in its turn not fall very well with the R2 unit’s owner.

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Gaming

On Earth the traditions of both electronic and traditional game play are still held up. In specialised booths you will be able to test the latest popular electronic games that currently circulate on Earth. They may appear to be a little bit “classic” to someone who is used to a fair standard of automation and advanced electronics, but they remain a pleasant pass-time anyway.
If you are lucky enough to visit the Fan Village at the right times you may enroll in demonstration sessions of a number of card and board games. You will not find things such as a Sabbacc table -gambling is illegal in this particular place on planet Earth- but some of the board games will certainly have a very recognisable touch to them and are very fun to play.

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Artistry galore

As befits a Convention the size of FACTS, there’s also an artist alley in which you can see the masters themselves at work. Comics are still very much considered as art on planet Earth and with good reason, as the human population sports a big deal of talent in that area. The artists’ prowess with the pencil can really work very inspiring! 
Each artist will of course be selling autographed items or even works on commission for the duration of the Convention.
One special word has to be said about one artist who’s a fixed value in the FACTS scene and that’s cartoonist Lectrr. If you didn’t yet meet up with this Master of the Farce, then you should certainly take the time to do so. It will be no problem finding Lectrr either … just follow the trail of laughs.

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Fun fan facts

Fans will do anything to live the life as pictured in their favourite holovids if even for a day or two. You will therefore find a number of life-size diorama’s at display in the Convention area, some of which will be eerily recognisable by anybody who has ever visited Coruscant or other planets in the known universe. But FACTS holds a surprise for everybody, whatever your size. If life-size decors aren’t your thing, then you can still marvel at the scaled dioramas in the Fan Village; what do you think of the entire epic battle of Hoth made of nothing but little plastic bricks?

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Closure

When you have attended the FACTS Convention for the duration of two days and participated in its program for two days you’ll find it difficult to tell it goodbye again. Luckily, you can still delay that moment a bit by attending the John Williams’ concert. John Williams should be a name that rings a bell, since he’s the writer and composer of the fantastic holovid score that was put under the Star Wars films.

I’m sure that you now are convinced that the FACTS Convention is an event that is not to be missed. I’m sure you’ll want to book your passage timely so please proceed to our Ticket Dispenser Droid ATM-2 if that is the case. It will accept most of the common credit cards such as Coruscant Express, Utinni Chip and any card carrying a Jedi Maestro chip.

Thanks for your visit and … bon voyage!

 

 

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