The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham and every nearby hotel were home to 11,000 fans and guests over a busy weekend as the Destination Star Trek convention took place. Human Starfleet officers, Klingon warriors, several of the Borg collective, Andorians, Cardassians, Founders, Vorta and even a Gorn were walking around the convention, some seeking autographs, others looking for Trek merchandise, comics, graphic novels and replica spaceships.
Some cos-playing convention goers even took part in fiercely staged hand-to-hand battles. Hotel bars, pubs and restaurants throughout the NEC complex took on a feeling and atmosphere of the Enterprise’s Ten Forward as fans met for drinks, food or just to relax and talk Trek. Elsewhere there were retro-video games and a chance to try out VR headsets as well as merchandise stalls and a card games area.
Anyone looking to take temporary command of the Enterprise NCC-1701 or Enterprise NCC-1701 D had the opportunity to purchase a professional photo. Other ticketed photo opportunities included a Klingon bridge, Quark’s bar and the Captain’s chair from Star Trek Discovery, as well as several green screen photo options.
There were also professional photo opportunities with many of the guests including Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols on the Enterprise NCC-1701 bridge or with William Shatner and tribbles.
And if the original series wasn’t your personal favourite there were many Deep Space Nine guests and almost the entire bridge crew of Star Trek Discovery, who had been specially flown in directly from filming season two of their hit show to allow fans the opportunity to meet them, including Sonequa Martin-Green, Jason Isaacs and Doug Jones. There was also several Star Trek backdrops in front of which fans could take their own photos including a Horta from the original series episode The Devil in the Dark and a transporter pad.
On Stage Talks
Over the weekend, the three large stages - Excelsior, Voyager and Enterprise - offered a variety of over 50 free and ticketed talks and demonstrations, including:
- The Cardassians: Vaughan Armstrong (Gul Danar, Telek R'Mor), Casey Biggs (Damar) and Andrew Robinson (Elim Garak)
- There’s Coffee In That Nebula: Kate Mulgrew (Captain Katherine Janeway)
- You Are Cordially Invited: Terry Farrell (Dax) and Michael Dorn (Worf)
- The Ferengi Family Get Together: Armin Shimerman (Quark), Max Grodenchik (Rom) and Aron Eisenberg (Nog)
- The Klingons Are Coming: Mary Chieffo (L’Rell) and Kenneth Mitchell (Kol)
Ferengi Family Portrait
For the first time ever since being on the show Deep Space Nine the three main Ferengi characters were brought back to life by the acting talents of Armin Shimerman (Quark), Max Grodenchik (Rom) and Aron Eisenberg (Nog) who appeared in their costumes and make-up. Original make-up artist Karen Westerfield was on hand to work her magic. They did a talk and also posed for professional photo shoots.
The main highlight of the evening parties was an appearance by the Enterprise Blues Band, made up of Steve Rankin, Vaughan Armstrong and Casey Biggs. They played several humorous and enjoyable Star Trek themed songs, and although I wasn’t able to stay around for long I did enjoy ‘Bat'Leth Baby’, ‘Trekkie Deckie’, ‘Ooh Mr Sulu’ and the Polynesian inspired ‘Let's Talk Dirty In Hawaiian’. For your viewing pleasure I did capture some of the performance:
Deep Space Nine What We Left Behind Red Carpet and Screening
Perhaps one of the most exciting events of the whole convention was the chance to see a very early screening of the Deep Space Nine retrospective documentary: What We Left Behind. Andrew Robinson and Nana Visitor were heavily involved in the making of this fantastic documentary that covered the whole spectrum of emotions.
My Interviews with the Guests
I’ve been a journalist for over a decade now, mostly writing about facilities management, sustainability and construction, and of course film reviews. My work is usually focused on the written word. It wasn’t until Destination Star Trek 2016 that I ever considered the idea of interviewing people on camera.
I took the opportunity to do the same at this most recent event to give you a taste of their thoughts on their roles in Star Trek and what current projects they are working on. Sadly the cast of Star Trek Discovery were not available for interview,
However I was able to record several brief interviews with some of the stars of other Star Trek shows including a conversation with Armin Shimerman who was kind enough to quote some Shakespeare, his wife Kitty who told me the story of how they met, as well as conversations with two of the Enterprise Blues Band members Steve Rankin and Vaughan Armstrong who both told me stories of their various roles in Star Trek.
Cos-play and What Star Trek and Conventions Mean to the Fans:
As much as meeting some stars of the franchise was a real thrill, for me the best part of DST 2018 was being surrounded by a diverse and good natured group of fellow fans, meeting some of them and making new friends. Also, that there was a WetherspoonsRick Palmer @Misterimhotep
A weekend with thousands of Star Trek fans is an incredible experience. There was a huge range of guests and the atmosphere of love and affection for the franchise was incredible. I met some amazing people, both stars and fans. This event was a huge step up from 2016 and having a weekend like this annually is a pretty wonderful prospect.Rick Everson @TrekfanRick
I didn’t want to leave! Other Trekkies were wonderful, I've never been anywhere so enjoyable, well organised and friendly. Meeting the stars was something I'd only dreamt of and something I'll never forget. It's wonderful to find your idols are nice people and I'll treasure the photos and autographs forever.Karen Maly
An event where inclusion became reality, not just an idea. Stars, crew and trekkies took inclusion to their hearts and all were treated the same with dignity and respect. Live long and prosper no matter who you are.Pamela F Gray @Rainbird24
Fun and friendly. The event met every expectation I had, and I'm incredibly pleased we decided to fully 'do' the convention with pictures, a nice hotel, going to talks, and generally enjoying our time there. The queues were so fun chatting about what everyone else had done and was excited about - the other attendees we met made it even more fun.Matthew Vose @matthewvose
We go to meet new friends and old, we go to meet our childhood heroes, we go to the life our dreams, we go to visit a world where all are welcome irrespective of gender, race, sexuality or political leanings. We go to laugh (and cry sometimes) in a place that does not judge and we do it because we all believe in a world that is better than this one - Gene Roddenberry’s world, the world of StarTrekJulian Roberts
Everybody gave so much to the event. The guests were very friendly and always had time for a few words with their fans. Fans were so friendly to others, especially newcomers and those on their own. Staff helped the whole event run as smoothly as possible and worked very hard.Maura Waddick
There were a lot of strong feelings towards this event before, during and after... For a lot of people, myself included, emotions were stirred and anxieties and fears bubbled to the surface. But above all there was a collective sense of excitement. For several months prior to the convention I’d acted as an administrator on a Facebook page dedicated to DST2018. Questions were asked, answered, asked a second time and finally asked a few more times… before everyone was satisfied with the answer. Picard’s defiant statement THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS became WE ARE IN HALL FIVE… as if anyone could ever have accidentally turned up the Motorhomes Show instead. People even created detailed Excel spreadsheets scheduling their activities across the three days to ensure that no overlaps occurred and that they would not miss anything.
The wonder of Star Trek is that it has the power to bring people together. Shared anticipation surrounding the event was extremely high across Facebook and Twitter. In fact Twitter was especially busy - perhaps because this platform offers fans a direct avenue of communication with the actors that they’re going to the convention to see. DST related tweets appeared on Twitter long before the event began, and will no doubt persist for days and weeks to follow. I heard many stories of people meeting up with friends that they had made over social media. In fact I met up and shared a rented house with a great group of lads that I had never met in person before, having only conversed with them on Twitter prior to the convention.
These newly formed friendships will endure. Tickets are already selling quickly for DST2019 and the feeling of excitement continues. The sense of togetherness is palpable. Cultural diversity regardless of gender, age, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and social status is a reality (at least within the walls of the NEC). Star Trek has always been part of this movement, for over 50 years from TOS to DISCO, everyone is welcome. WE ARE STARFLEET.