Star Wars Celebration
Star Wars Celebration is a fan gathering to celebrate the release of a Star Wars franchise movie. It began in 1999, when Lucasfilm held the Star Wars Celebration in Denver, Colorado to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Subsequent events have taken place to welcome Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, as well as honoring the 30th Anniversary of the release of the original three films. The eighth such event, the sixth to be held in the United States, took place in August 2012 in Orlando, Florida.
The Star Wars Celebration was held from April 30-May 2, 1999, at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver, Colorado, just three weeks before the release of The Phantom Menace. An event for the fans, by the fans, Star Wars Celebration took place in the hometown of the Official Star Wars Fan Club, headed by Dan Madsen. "The Fan Club is based here in Denver," says Madsen, "so we thought it would only be appropriate that the Celebration be held here."
The first Star Wars convention since 1987, the Celebration consisted of activities including actor panels, THX theater demonstrations, behind the scenes footage from Episode I, and the world premiere of the Duel of the Fates music video. The grounds boasted a vendors tent, and the museum hosted an exhibition consisting of props from the official LucasFilm archives, including Anakin's full-scale Pod Racer and a life-size X-Wing Fighter (which was made to scale with Lego bricks), allowing the estimated 20,000 attendees to get a true glimpse into LucasFilm and Star Wars history.
From May 3–5, 2002, Star Wars Celebration II was held to celebrate the upcoming release of Attack of the Clones. The convention was moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to make use of the larger Indiana Convention Center.
Downtown Indianapolis was invaded by multitudes of Star Wars fans. The initial projection of 15-20,000 people per day based on advance ticket sales was well surpassed, and reached critical mass on Saturday. The estimated final tally was a little over 75,000 people for the three-day event. The two places that received the most traffic were the Fan Club store and the autograph section, specifically for Carrie Fisher. Highlights of the event included the Rick McCallum Spectacular and Saturday night's Star Wars 25th Anniversary Concert, performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis.
The Star Wars Celebration returned to Indianapolis from April 21–24, 2005, to commemorate the release of the final film in the saga, Revenge of the Sith. With over 34,000 fans in attendance over the course of four days, Celebration III brought actor panels, costume contests, fan films, and diorama building to the Indianapolis Convention Center. The Lucasfilm archive provided many important props and costumes for display. One of this Celebration's most noteworthy events was the unprecedented Q&A session with Star Wars creator George Lucas, his first such appearance since the Star Wars 10th Anniversary Convention in 1987. With approximately 10,000 fans in attendance (over the course of 3 half-hour sessions), Lucas personally answered several dozen fans' questions about the saga.
On May 26, 2006, StarWars.com announced Star Wars Celebration IV (C4) to be held May 24–28, 2007 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first Star Wars film. C4 was located at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles. Taking place on May 24 through May 28, the convention offered a record number of celebrities in the autograph hall, multiple exhibitors, a Star Wars art show, a Darth Vader helmet and Lucasfilm archive exhibits and many fan oriented activities. In addition, there were collector and costuming panels, including sneak peeks of the upcoming Clone Wars animated series. Fans were the first to see the footage of this series on Sunday morning as well. Other highlights included conversations with Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams, a visit from Seth MacFarlane and Seth Green for special Star Wars episodes of Family Guy and Robot Chicken respectively, and an efficiently organized Celebration Store. An estimated 35,000 people walked through the doors for Celebration IV over the Memorial Day weekend.
On September 25, 2006 StarWars.com announced Star Wars Celebration Europe (CE) to be held July 13–15, 2007 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first Star Wars film. CE was to be located at Earls Court in London. But on November 22, 2006 StarWars.com announced due to Advance interest in Celebration Europe the event would be moved to the larger venue located at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in London. The event also had on display some of the largest restored Star Wars Arcade collection, estimated at around 30 to 40 machines, many of them now rarely seen in the USA or in other parts of Europe. An estimated 30,000 people attended this convention.
On February 23, 2008, Lucasfilm Ltd. and the Lewis Daniel Group announced a three-day event known as "Celebration Japan", was held at the Makuhari-Messe Convention Center near Tokyo on July 19 to 21. The convention celebrated the 30th anniversary of the June 24, 1978 Japanese premiere of Star Wars. Celebration Japan included live entertainment, Star Wars celebrities, exclusive merchandise, special presentations, unique Star Wars exhibits, costume contests, and other activities.
Lucasfilm announced in 2008 that a US-based four-day Star Wars convention called "Celebration V" would be held in the summer of 2010. In July 2008, Steve Sansweet, director of content management and head of fan relations for Lucasfilm, announced that Baltimore, Minneapolis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Orlando, Florida were competing to host this event. Organizers anticipated that 30,000 Star Wars fans would attend no matter which city was selected.
Reed Exhibitions and Lucasfilm announced on December 3, 2009, that Orlando would host the event. Celebration V took place at the Orange County Convention Center from August 12–15, 2010. The convention celebrated the 30th anniversary of the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. It also included many features of previous Celebrations (such as Star Wars celebrity appearances, costume contests, and other fan events) as well as a special one-hour interview between Jon Stewart and George Lucas called "The Main Event". Celebration V marked the first American Celebration appearance for Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and the last American appearance for Caroline Blakiston (Mon Mothma). Attendance was estimated at 32,000.
Lucas also made an appearance at the nearby Disney's Hollywood Studios to take part in the "Last Tour to Endor Event", which provided special entertainment for those individuals who attended "Celebration V".
StarWarsCelebration.com announced on June 2, 2011 that Celebration VI would be held in Orlando, FL at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) from August 16–19, 2012. The date was later changed to August 23–26, 2012. The convention was held in the same hall of the OCCC as was Celebration V, with a very similar format. Several celebrities returned for appearances at this Celebration (including Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Anthony Daniels), and this event marked the first American Celebration attended by Ian McDiarmid. George Lucas had not been scheduled to attend, but made a "surprise" appearance. The event hosted the announcement of Star Wars Detours. Attendance was estimated at 35,000 people.
Celebration Europe II
It was announced at the Closing Ceremonies of Celebration VI (and confirmed on StarWarsCelebration.com) that Celebration Europe II would be held in Essen, Germany, at the Messe Essen fair venue from July 26–28, 2013. Major panels were Kathleen Kennedy inaugural Star Wars Celebration appearance and the first look at Star Wars Rebels. Over 30,000 people attended the event from 40 different countries.
Celebration Anaheim (aka Celebration VII)
It was announced at the closing ceremonies of Celebration Europe II that Celebration Anaheim (aka Celebration VII) will be held in Anaheim, California, at the Anaheim Convention Center from April 16-19, 2015.
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