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UK Games Expo First Time Family Survival Guide.

UKGE First Time Family Survival Guide. Home – UK Games Expo
Written by Matthew Bailey from Little Board Gamers | **UKBGE First Time Family Survival Guide.** | Facebook

Hey all have done my best to write a survival guide for people travelling to the NEC the weekend after next for the UKGE. This is by no means comprehensive and if anyone has any good additions let me know below.

Its worth noting that there is a first timer guide you can get at the event itself that has a treasure hunt and a few other things in it that might appeal but its not specifically aimed at families.
Overview The UK Games Expo (UKGE) is the largest Hobby Games Convention in the UK. It’s a fun event that appeals to families as well as enthusiasts and I myself, along with many others in the groups, have attended before. The expo is set to take place from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2, 2024.

You can go for a day or the whole weekend but if you are just going for a day I would recommend Friday or Sunday as they tend to be quieter than Saturday.

If you are looking to buy “the new exciting stuff” then be aware that things might be sold out come Sunday.

Parking Parking at the NEC is reminiscent of being t an airport with shuttle buses taking you from the car park to the venue. Id recommend booking in advance to avoid queueing on the day.

Family-Friendly Zones The expo has 2 dedicated zones for families and children (although they do kinda blur into 1):

The Children’s Zone: This area focuses on games for Little Board Gamers and It’s a great place to learn games to play with your children.

The Family Zone: This zone is generally staffed by specially trained demonstrators. It’s designed to attract families where they can learn and play new games together.

Generally while there are people to help its often easier to grab a game from the central table and give it a go. Last year we found a fair few games we ended up covering in this section and its normally fairly quiet even on the Saturday.

Events and Activities There are a variety of events from tournaments and live shows to role-playing games etc but these arent usually targeted that well at families but if you are going with more than 1 adult these might be worth having a look at in advance to plan your day.

Things to Bring While you could take a buggy I would say navigating especially when its super busy may be difficult with one. With super little kids id probably recommend going down the harness route with a rucksack rather than taking a buggy. I know oher have though so if anyone can give some good buggy advice below please do.

If however you do bring a buggy then the place is fully wheelchair accessible so you should have no issues from that point of view.

here is a cloak room that I have used to no issue.
Cash Generally speaking all places take card if you are looking to buy anything but sometimes internet can be iffy so taking some cash can be helpful. If you are on a tight budget equally taking cash might be a sensible idea to help manage what you spend,

Shopping With that in mind its very easy (especially on your first time) to “go crazy” and spend spend spend. Unless money is no object work to a strategy. I tend to restrict myself to purchasing things I know are not readily available outside of the show. Eg if I can order it for next day delivery from Zatu then i usually wont buy at the show.

There are 2 services called the “shop & Drop” and “pack and post”.

Shop & Drop The shop & drop works very similar to a cloak room that lets you leave purchases to pick up later to stop you having to carry them around. I havnt used this but I have heard a few stories of things going missing. Personally assuming you arrived by car take a break after buying a few things to go back to the car and do a drop off.

Pack & Post The pack and post is where you can get everything packed up and posted to your house for a fee. This is really useful if you buy a lot and have travelled by public transport. Sometimes on the Sunday they run out of boxes though so just ne aware of this.

Safety & SEN While I have never witnessed or heard of anything negative happening the Expo gets extremely busy and definitely could be overwhelming for little kids or people with SEN conditions such as ASD.

Its rarely loud and noisy but there is a constant crowd background churn to be aware of. If kids have sensory issues then ear defenders would definitely be sensible.

My advice with slightly older kids is to pick something big and easy to see when you arrive and agree that if you get separated to meet back at that place. You could also potentially write you phone number on the back of their lanyard.

Playing Games There will be loads of people at stands demoing their games. Be friendly get involved and enjoy what’s there

Generally queues for family and children’s games are low so there should be plenty of stuff to do.

Food Taking a packed lunch could be sensible but there are places to eat on site. These tend to get rammed so I would go for a “kid lunch” and eat at about 11:30 to avoid having to wait for hours to get served and then eat sat on the floor.

Staying over If you coming for more than one day then staying over is a good idea. Sadly the onsite hotels get booked up a year in advance but you should be able to find some hotels nearby. We like Premiere Inns and have never had any issues.

TAKE HAND GEL You are going to be touching stuff a tonne of other people have touched and there is a reason many people talk about “Con Flu” sanitise yourself every now and then to try and avoid the kids taking the first day back over half term off ill.