Thought Bubble – arguably the largest and most popular comics-centric festival and convention in the UK – will not only be returning to its earlier November dates in the convention calendar (Festival: 4th-10th November, Convention: 9th-10th November) but also changing venue entirely, leaving its traditional cosmopolitan home of Leeds for the more sedate pace of Harrogate.
The Thought Bubble Sequential Art Festival (or TBubs, for those in the know) has long been growing and expanding beyond its humble beginnings in the basement of the Leeds Town Hall, some twelve years ago. In that time, the Festival has moved and taken over the Royal Armouries Museum space, both figuratively and literally from the use of the available RA spaces to custom designed marquees in the courtyard, to creating a mammoth multi-venue experience in Leeds City Centre for the past two years.
However, clashes with Leeds City Council have meant that TBubs creator and Festival Director Lisa Wood (aka, noted comics artist Tula Lotay) have been forced to look for an alternative location – and an alternative they have found… but just not in Leeds.
The convention will now be housed back under one roof – no chilly queuing to get into multiple marquees this year – as Thought Bubble will be taking over the entirety of the impressive Harrogate Convention Centre, consisting of an historic Edwardian Royal Hall, a mammoth 1,900 seat Auditorium for panels, and multiple Studio Spaces and Halls, plenty of space to host even the most ambitious of comic cons.
The blog post detailing the necessity of the location change also lists disability accessibility as a prime factor for the choice of venue, with the Harrogate Convention Centre being purpose-built to allow easier access for those needing it.
This change will be jarring for some – especially those that have become familiar with the urban hustle-and-bustle of Leeds, unfamiliar with the more sedate and conservative atmosphere of Harrogate (think ‘posher Kendal’, if you can) – but it will be interesting to see if the inclusive vibe of Thought Bubble will translate with this new locale. We shall see, this November.
The Festival has also revealed the artwork that will brand the show this November, a gorgeous and vibrant piece by Walt Disney Animation Studios Art Director Mingjue Helen Chen, along with a new logo for the Festival, designed by Leeds-based graphic design studio Passport:
The Thought Bubble Festival blog post, as found on the Festival official website, reads:
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS IN THE BASEMENT OF LEEDS TOWN HALL, THOUGHT BUBBLE COMIC ART FESTIVAL MARKS ITS 13TH YEAR WITH A BIGGER EXPANSION THAN EVER AND AN EXCITING CHANGE OF SCENERY FOR THE THOUGHT BUBBLE CONVENTION!
Thought Bubble has been in Leeds for over 12 years and has grown from our very first year in the basement of Leeds Town Hall, to many happy years in the Royal Armouries, to finally taking over the city centre with our giant festival village marquees.
After months of planning we are delighted with our convention’s new home at the Harrogate Convention Centre! A venue that is bigger, brighter and tailor made to accommodate a convention like Thought Bubble. We are very excited about the new opportunities that this incredible space provides.
Despite the amazing years we’ve had 2018 was a difficult year at Thought Bubble. We unfortunately had issues with Leeds City Council which took months for us to resolve and made it incredibly difficult to deliver the festival last year.
The move to the city centre and the issues around our working relationship with the council has highlighted the fact that there is no space big enough in Leeds to host our convention. We’ve spent the last few months trying to find solutions to make the festival work and doing everything in our power to find an alternative space in Leeds. We’ve looked at the possibility of moving back to the Royal Armouries but we still have the issue of space and having to build a marquee which has been less than ideal with the cold weather in November and the high winds we experienced last year in September. Unfortunately it has become impossible to continue our convention event in Leeds. We’ve got so many exciting plans for Thought Bubble’s future and finding somewhere with room for them to become reality has been at the top of our list. We’ve also listened very carefully to your feedback over the past 12 years – the things that would make coming to Thought Bubble easier for you – and we’re confident that we’ve found somewhere that ticks all the boxes.
Founder and Festival Director Lisa Wood says that she and her team have searched for a venue that will do the festival justice and have found an amazing new home:
“We’re delighted to be moving to Harrogate Convention Centre. The scale of the venue, with an amazing bar area, means we can host our much loved Saturday night party under the same roof. A beautiful Edwardian hall will also give us plenty of options for panel areas and on stage presentations. The convention centre is super accessible and we’re excited to use the convention centre to build on our reputation of presenting activity that is inclusive for all.”
Paula Lorimer, director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said: “Welcoming Thought Bubble to Harrogate is really exciting for us. During its time in Leeds the show has evolved into one of the most vibrant events of its kind in the north, if not the whole UK. We’re really looking forward to working with the organisers, artists and visitors to build on that foundation. I’d say to fans of the event to come and experience our town and our venue and let’s take Thought Bubble to the next level.”
Here are just some of the reasons why we think you’ll love our fantastic new convention space:
THE CONVENTION CENTRE
Harrogate convention centre is purpose built, and is not weather dependent like the marquees so we can focus on making the experience amazing for all visitors and attendees and exhibitors.
The convention centre is more accessible than any space we have had before which should make attending the convention much easier for any members of our audience with a disability. We will use the benefits of the convention centre to build on our reputation of presenting activity that is inclusive for all.
Access to the convention centre is only a few minutes’ walk from the train station and there’s a large car park directly under the conference centre for people travelling by car.
FANTASTIC TRAVEL CONNECTIONS
Travelling to Harrogate is simple.
It is located only a few minutes off the A1and the car journey from Leeds is just over 30 minutes.
You can get the train from major UK cities, with connections from Leeds (34 minutes) and York (33 minutes). There will be 7 trains a day running direct from London to Harrogate connecting the town to the South East by September 2019. We’ve arranged a fantastic 25% discount for everyone travelling from London to Harrogate through LNER. If you are travelling internationally the nearest airport (Leeds Bradford) is only 20 minutes away. The #36 Leeds-Harrogate bus leaves every 10 minutes & contains a library which we’ll be filling with graphic novels so anyone using this service can read comic books for free all the way to the convention!
If you’d like to stay over in Harrogate there are lots of different options for accommodation at a range of different price points so staying over will be much more affordable for people travelling from outside the area. We’re working with a local hotel provider so that exhibitors and ticket holders can get a special rate at our main festival hotel. This will be announced in the next couple of weeks so keep an eye on our social media! For the first time ever all the hotels are within walking distance of the convention centre, so no matter what your budget is you can still be right at the heart of the convention action.
WE’RE DOING SOME NEW EXCITING THINGS, BUT GENERALLY IT’LL BE THE SAME THOUGHT BUBBLE YOU’VE ALWAYS LOVED
This is a big and exciting change for the Thought Bubble Convention, but the Festival itself is staying rooted in Leeds and Bradford, although over the next few years you’ll see a much bigger expansion of Thought Bubble into the whole of Yorkshire. Thought Bubble Festival has always been dedicated to our community work and outreach programmes using the wonderful medium of comics and we have big plans to expand this work. We will still be working with the organisations we care dearly for like Leeds Autism Services, Leeds Art University and our Asylum Seekers and Refugees workshops, among others.
Whilst the move of the convention to Harrogate is a big change for Thought Bubble we’re committed to keeping it the same friendly, inclusive and amazing convention that it’s been for the last twelve years. We’re in a new home, it’s going to feel just the same… but better! We know change can be scary and it’s ok if you’re nervous about whether the Thought Bubble con might feel different as it moves to a new location. But you know us, and you know that everything we do is done with love and a deep desire to make something wonderful that uplifts, encourages and celebrates comics. We’re so confident that this is going to be amazing.
So, we’d love it if you would join us again this year as we make this next step in our adventure. Here are the important dates you need to know:
FESTIVAL: 4th – 10th November (Yep, we’re back in November and we love it!)
CONVENTION: 9th – 10th November
Thought Bubble, the Yorkshire Comic Art Festival will be held on 9th and 10th November 2019 at Harrogate Convention centre. For tickets and info see: www.thoughtbubblefestival.com