What to expect

 

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Never been to an event like this before?
Need a refresher?

Feel free to browse the reports, blog posts, pictures and programme from previous years, and of course you can also ask questions of the Team. And here’s a brief explanatory post to give you an overall idea of the event.

Please remember 🙂 The UK Meet started as a relaxed, informal event, exclusively for fans and supporters of GLBTQ fiction. Even as it’s grown over the years and now involves more formal organisation, its central aim is still to bring benefit and enjoyment to everyone who attends.

What to expect … at the UK Meet

On Friday, people arrive throughout the afternoon/evening and find friends or the Meet Team to say hello. We have a clearly signposted Welcome desk, where we will hand out ID cards and a printed programme for you. This has proved to be an informal and relaxed way to ease yourself into the weekend, and everyone is on the lookout to welcome newcomers. We often arrange a fun event – like a local walk, or boat trip – which is totally voluntary. In earlier years, we’ve arranged a dinner venue for people who want to eat out in a group on their first night, but in more recent years we’ve found most people want to make their own arrangements. Be open to being invited along! 🙂

There’s no obligation to stay at the Meet hotel – we leave your accommodation plans completely up to you – and we always seek a venue where there’s a good selection of hotels nearby.

On Saturday morning, registration is still open, and there’ll also be a souvenir bag with promotional gifts and goodies, completely free as a welcome to you.

During the weekend, there’ll be refreshments all day and a buffet lunch for delegates, and that’s all covered in the price of your ticket.

We have several meeting rooms booked for the event, and the main one is large enough for us all to meet at the beginning and end of each day. It’s usually set up with small table arrangements, where 6-8 or so people can sit, which makes it much less formal and much more comfortable. Anyone can sit anywhere!

After an informal “welcome” session on Saturday morning, the schedule breaks up into hour(ish)-long panels. We run these several at a time, in the different rooms available, so that we can offer the maximum topics for people to discuss and explore. Again, it’s an informal sitting arrangement, and you can sit and listen, or join in the chat, or just soak up the atmosphere. The panels are run by fellow fans and authors, whom you may already have met, so it’s a very friendly approach. You can see in advance the topics we want to cover, in the draft programme we’ll post here on the website.

We always try to find a venue where there is plenty of break-out space – additional small rooms, or lounge areas, where you can sit and read or rest, or chat with a small group of friends. Our aim is to hire a dedicated area for the Meet, where we can be together and relax as a group without other hotel guests interrupting, but also with access to all the hotel facilities.

Most important – you can choose to go to everything or nothing :). You can go to any panels you like, though we do ask out of respect for the panellists that you don’t dodge noisily in and out of panels while they’re going on. We leave plenty of time in the schedule for people to take time out for a coffee, or find a quiet corner to catch up with an online friend – or meet someone you’ve always liked or admired, in a comfy atmosphere!

At all times, we’re equally respectful of all attendees. We have provisions for people who don’t want to speak in public, or be photographed and appear on Facebook (though many of us don’t mind after the first couple of hours have gone past and we’ve already made new friends!).

On Saturday evening, you can do your own thing, or join up with a group of your friends. We always seek to find a venue where there’s plenty to see and do outside of the Meet, for those who like to venture out now and then!

We also like to organise a special, exclusive-to-us dinner on Saturday night, with decoration and entertainment, somewhere in or near the hotel. You will pay separately for this – and attendance is totally optional – but the people who’ve joined us have always had a good time, and appreciated the event as extra fun and celebration.

Sunday will be the same format for panels, but in a slightly more relaxed way. The schedule will be more loose, so that people who started a good debate or discussion going on Saturday can have the space and time to follow it up. But there will also be new topics to discuss. We also finish earlier, to allow for people travelling home that day.

The day will often start with a short inter-denominational service in one of the small meeting rooms, for anyone who’d like to attend.

Also during the weekend, authors and publishers will have a chance to set out their books for sale. You can buy, browse, and/or ask for an autograph for a book you already have. We also arrange time for aspiring authors to pitch to publishers who are attending.

In recent years we’ve had a photographer on hand during the weekend, if you’d like a souvenir photo – individually or with your group – or an author promotional photo.

If that’s not all enough already! we’ll be running a prize raffle during the weekend, proceeds of which will go to the Albert Kennedy Trust.

We recommend you take a look at the pictures we’ve posted here on the group, which are montages of photos at previous years. You can see how the rooms were arranged, how the panels operated, how we were happy to mill around at some times of the day, just chatting and socialising and swapping ideas and opinions. Most of all, we hope you can see how many of us are smiling and having a great time – however shy we thought we were at the beginning of Day#1!

~~~Clare London

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