Cornwall festival: what to see at Geekfest 2022

Cosplay rules at Geekfest! Image by Dave Scoffin Photography

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Star Wars. Doctor Who. Knights in shining armour. Robots. Dragons. Bandits. Pirates. And everyone and everything in between. All these sci-fi, fantasy and cosplay heroes and villains (and many, many more) will be at Cornwall festival Geekfest 2022 at Heartlands in Pool, Cornwall. After a two-year break due to the COVID-19 virus, this big festival of sci-fi, fantasy, cosplay and all things geek returns for its sixth edition on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 August 2022, from 10am each day.

Expect more activities, stalls, live performances, games, workshops, trade stalls, panels and events than you can shake a magic wand at during Geekfest 2022. There’s tons for kids to take part in, as well as an ‘after-show party’ for the adults on the Saturday night. Cosplay is encouraged and it’s £15 for a full weekend adult ticket and £12 for a child’s ticket. Business development manager at Heartlands, Zoe Morrison, says: “Every year, Geekfest is an incredible event. But this year, it’s going to be even more special because it’s been away for two years due to COVID. So, we’re making it bigger and better than ever before by providing so much to do and see and take part in, from VR and immersive board games to amazing cosplay competitions and even some LARPing. You don’t have to be a geek… but it helps!”

So, what to do at Geekfest 2022? Well, here are a few awesome recommendations to get you started…

Image by Dave Scoffin Photography

Dress like a superhero… and win prizes

Aces! The annual cosplay competitions are back at Geekfest 2022. It’s simple to take part: just dress up as your favourite sci-fi or fantasy character, your favourite hero or villain or, to be honest, anyone or anything that just screams ‘geek’. There are always amazing costumes at Geekfest (see the picture above for a flavour of the costumes worn at a previous edition of the festival). Expect a whole host of awesome prizes that are up for grabs for the best dressed so, yeah, get those boots and skirts on and impress the judges… and everyone else you come across at the fest too.

Enter the world of VR

If there’s anything right now that’s just downright exciting in the tech universe, it’s virtual reality. The world of VR just seems to improve every single day and it’s like we’re all on the edge of some major global breakthroughs which will transform humankind in unimaginable ways. Get a flavour of what VR can do right now at Geekfest 2022.

Player Ready – one of Geekfest 2022’s main sponsors – brings its VR headsets to the party over the weekend so that visitors can try out all sorts of games, experiences and even escape rooms in the virtual reality realm. Player Ready, which is based in Truro, offers racing and go-karting simulators, as well as VR laser tag and even creepy zombie experiences in its Truro, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Taunton and Weymouth venues. The company offers a massive range of VR experiences which people can take part in, whether as part of a birthday, a team-building work do, a stag/hen party or just flying solo.

Stephen Parkinson, Player Ready’s founder, says that anyone can experience ‘a huge range of VR content, from family-friendly games and educational content to VR laser tag and zombie shooter experiences’. “The VR Escape Rooms,” he says, “range from easy in difficulty to hard and can accommodate up to six players. You can see each other in the games and teleport into a new world, whether it be in a fun floating jungle or a huge pyramid full of puzzles. The zombie survival games are hugely popular and can be enjoyed solo or in a team to get your heart racing. We also have a massive collection of solo and party games suitable for ages seven and above. We’re really pleased to be sponsoring Geekfest 2022 and we can’t wait to meet everyone there in both reality and, of course, virtual reality!”

Image of Games Academy student demonstrating digital art by Matt Jessop Photography

Learn how to develop your own game

Ever wanted to learn how to create your own games? Well, now you can, if you hit up Geekfest 2022. Prepare to get a glimpse into what it takes to be a game developer as the Games Academy at Falmouth University, which has had a presence at Geekfest in the past, gives visitors ‘a hands-on experience creating game worlds’ over the weekend.

The Games Academy – one of Geekfest 2022’s main sponsors – creates real games and digital products. Falmouth University has one of the largest dedicated game development studio spaces in the UK and its games course is listed as one of the top 50 games schools in the world by test-prep giants, the Princeton Review. This year at Geekfest, expect student-made games, virtual reality experiences, robotics and ‘hands-on micro workshops in game development’ to be run by the academy in a special area of the festival. Michael Gray, technical operations team leader at the university says there are ‘some really interesting elements’ coming to the fest that the team ‘is still working on so watch this space’.

This year, the Games Academy is also joined by Falmouth University’s animation course to show visitors the processes behind creating animated stories for film, TV and advertisements. Gray adds: “There will be games and animation workshops for visitors to learn some of the techniques involved in creating content for different creative mediums. We are delighted to support and be welcomed back to Heartlands for the return of Geekfest 2022 and can’t wait to see everyone again.”

Image courtesy of UK Garrison

Meet your destiny… and some Stormtroopers

The force will be strong with you and your friends if you go to Geekfest this year. In fact, it’ll be strong with everyone at the fest because representatives of The Empire will be there. Yep, we’re talking Stormtroopers. And some other Imperial troops too. They are all part of the UK Garrison which is sending some of its volunteers to make sure this will be a weekend long remembered.

The UK Garrison – a member of the international fan-based ‘Star Wars’ replica costume organisation, the 501st Legion – is a not-for-profit costuming group that supports a range of charities and good causes by sending its members, all volunteers who dress up as ‘Star Wars’ characters, to events where they raise ‘money and awareness’ in the process. They’ve been to Geekfest before and they are back in 2022 by popular demand.

“We bring a part of the ‘Star Wars’ universe to Geekfest over the weekend,” says the UK Garrison’s commanding officer, Gary Hailes. “It’s a lot of fun. Most people love ‘Star Wars’ and to experience its characters at an event like Geekfest is always a magical experience. Our members are all volunteers who bring their own costumes and help raise money for charity. We’re bad guys doing good! We have been to Geekfest many times before and we’re looking forward to going again this year and having a good time.”

Image courtesy of Chaosgate

Have a right LARP

Live action role-playing – or LARPing – has been around for years. It’s also been around at Geekfest for years – all six years, to be exact. Yes, Cornwall’s own Chaosgate LARPing experience is a regular fixture at the fest and this year is no different. Expect all manner of heroes and monsters as the team sets up a ‘combat arena’ and a marquee throughout the weekend to show off this most fantastical and unique pastime.

A LARP game takes the gameplay away from the board or digital screen and into real life as the participants physically portray their characters in a real world setting such as a woodland – Chaosgate, which was launched in 2015, usually holds its games in Tehidy Woods, near Portreath and Redruth. In a LARP fantasy game, you generally get a party of heroes battling through a pre-planned course, encountering monsters played by fellow LARPers along the way. There’s acting. There’s puzzles. There’s fighting. And there’s triumph.

Chaosgate’s world is a fantasy version of Cornwall inhabited by pirates and piskies, bandits and giants, magicians and warriors, and the occasional turnip. Encounter all these and more at Geekfest when you take them on in the ‘combat arena’ with your friends. Martin Bray, one of the LARP leaders, says: “Anyone of any age can join in the fun – and some sort of fantasy costume is, of course, encouraged. Who knows? You may end up joining the group and having a LARP in Tehidy with a new group of creative pals.” Prepare for battle!

Riding on to the over-18s party at Geekfest, courtesy of Dave Scoffin Photographjy

Go to an over-18s party (if you’re over 18!)

There’s a ton for kids to do at Cornwall festival Geekfest 2022 but it’s strictly adults-only between 7pm and 11pm on the Saturday night for the festival’s ‘after-show-party’ in the entertainment marquee at Heartlands. There’s going to be a Vampire Masquerade game (read more about that below) and some awesome live bands to get everyone in celebratory mood. One of the highlights of the party is the Breaking Bad Bar, which is named after the hit TV show. The bar is actually at Geekfest all weekend but, like Walter White, it becomes a focal point after dark. Tickets to the party are £8 each and are sold separately to the weekend festival tickets. Find out more and purchase them on the official website.

Image by Robert Wilshire at Geekfest 2018

Beam with delight at a sci-fi laser show

Nothing says ‘sci-fi’ like lasers. So watch these beams of light create an arty display on the exterior of one of the most recognisable buildings at Heartlands during Geekfest. Greenwave Interactive, which has lit up the iconic Robinson’s Engine House with its lasers at the fest before, is behind this illuminating show. It’s mixing sci-fi and fantasy elements as its laser display theme this year.

The show is scheduled to last between 10 and 12 minutes and runs twice during the ‘after party’ on the Saturday evening. Paul Clark, Greenwave’s technical director, says: “The show is set to music and uses both laser projections on the surfaces of the building and sky beam effects. As proud geeks ourselves, we’re excited about once again combining our latest technology with the Cornish heritage at Heartlands for this year’s Geekfest.”

Greenwave has lit up Heartlands on a handful of occasions, including in March last year when it shone a red heart on a building in support of the #LightItInRed campaign that highlighted the plight of the events industry during COVID-19. Antonia Coppen, the company’s creative director, says: “The worlds of science fiction, fantasy and gaming provide so many iconic images and sounds, and we’re sure the audience at Geekfest will enjoy our medley of classic themes. We’ll see you there!”

Image by Dave Scoffin Photography

Help out (in costume!)

Want to help the team at Heartlands out over the weekend (and get free entry to Geekfest 2022 in the process)? Well, why not go along and lend your muscle? The team has told us that it’s looking for volunteers to help out with a range of activities, from taking tickets on the door to picking up litter throughout the weekend. Wearing cosplay (just like the girls pictured above next to the Robinson’s Engine House at Heartlands during a past Geekfest) as a volunteer is also encouraged. Call the team at Heartlands to find out more!

Image by Dave Scoffin

Explore Heartlands like a hero (with cosplayers all around you!)

Darth Vader’s got the right idea. It’s worth taking some time away from those games and stalls to wander around Heartlands and soak up this 19-acre site in Pool, between Redruth and Camborne. There will be cosplayers everywhere, just like Vader and his Stormtrooper pals who posed for a photo on a bridge over the water at Heartlands (pictured above) at a previous Geekfest. Check out the mining museum, the diaspora gardens, the highly recommended café, the indoor soft play area and the big outdoor kids adventure play areas. Also see the Robinson’s Engine House which was in operation from the 1830s before you get back into the festival for more games and more fun. Never a dull moment at Geekfest 2022.