Brae and I have been talking about attending a big Pagan to-do for a while, and I honed in on PantheaCon because 1) I need an indoor event so I don't return with skin cancer and 2) because it's enormous! I also know for sure that several people who I would love to meet usually attend.
What I'm looking for is feedback. Has anyone been to PantheaCon in the past? Has anyone heard anything positive or negative about it? Would you go? Are you going this year?
If you've no idea what I'm talking about, here's a link to their website.
Brock and I attended Pantheacon a couple of years ago. The first thing you need to know is that if you want to stay in the convention hotel you need to make reservations immediately after they open up the blocks of rooms. This is generally in May of the year preceding the Pantheacon you want to attend.
It is indeed a HUGE convention which is both a good thing in terms of meeting people, and a bad thing in terms of crowds. Some of the best speakers fill their workshops with so many people that it is SRO and there is no opportunity for back and forth interactions. Waits for the elevators can be long, and shopping with the merchants can be difficult.
There is a wide range of programs offered and the quality does vary. When we were there we attended some really good ones with Thorn Coyle, R.J. Stewart, etc. But there were some...like the one to waken the volcano spirits of the Oakland Hills, that left one wondering about what the people running it were really thinking.
Trying to eat in the hotel during the convention if problematic. There is one expensive dining room where you will easily drop $50 per person for a meal. The only other dining room is the one that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner...but it is always packed. Alternatively if you are willing to do a bit of walking there are some good ethnic restaurants in the area. We found a marvelous Indian restaurant and a really good Vietnamese restaurant where we ate a couple of meals. And we found a bagel and sandwich shop not far away.
Another indoor convention that you might consider is Between the Worlds. This convention is held only in accordance with astrological conjunctions. The last was held in 2007 and you can see the guests and program from that one at http://www.sacredwheel.org/btw/ The next one will be held December 21, 2012. It is held in Wilmington, DE which is closer to you. We were very impressed by the programming which was all of serious material. And at least 1/3 of those attending were grey-haired Pagans who had been at this for many, many years. Brock and I will be attending the next one for certain...and I'd love to get to meet you.
That looks fantastic! Unfortunately, with it being right around the holidays I don't know if it's really a possibility, though I would love a chance to be around the "grey haired Pagans" even if I'd stick out a bit and to meet you!
Brae is already thinking he won't go to PantheaCon because it's so close to the holidays, and he doesn't see how it will benefit him. So, it looks like if I can scrounge an extra $500 or so in the next few months, I might be going solo.
Oh, I figured out about the rooms right away since they've been sold out for a while in the con hotel. So, that's awesome. Apparently they were sold out before the block was even announced. But I am used to large conventions since the HP cons I usually go to are about 2000-3000 people. I just want to go to a Pagan event so bad. I understand why most are outdoor, but I wish there were more that were more accessible to me so I'd have a few more options to look at.
There's a handful of indoor festivals throughout the year, if you know where to look. Here's a few others I've heard about in addition to the two mentioned above.
(I'm being wooed to teach at this one, although I've said I can't commit to this year...but maybe 2013.)
(Technically interfaith, but mostly pagan-influenced.)
Feast of Lights
One more to add to the list (I admit bias here: I'm on the board that runs it) is Paganicon, which this coming year will be in St. Louis Park, Minnesota (the town immediately west of Minneapolis) March 16-18th. http://tcpaganpride.org/paganicon is the website.
We had our first event last year, and it was an awesome experience, and we're gearing up for an even better next year. We had about 150 people last year, and we're aiming for somewhere in the 200-300 range this year, which is a great size for continuing conversations after a workshop and meeting new people. Registration is $45 through September 11th, and goes up to $60 after that until just before the convention, and we're expecting 4 tracks of programming, music, vendors, and some other events.