The UK’s largest hobby gaming convention, UK Games Expo, has fully emerged from the shadow of the Coronavirus crisis by posting a record 32,000 visitors at this year’s event.
UKGE revealed the provisional figures just after the event wrapped up today (Sunday June 4), after three days of board game and roleplaying game demos, displays, trading and seminars across a trio of massive halls at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre.
That visitor total blows away UKGE’s previous record of 25,704 posted in 2019, before the event was forced to pause in 2020 due to the Covid-19 outbreak, being replaced for a year by a virtual convention.
Visitor numbers were muted upon reopening in 2021 at about 10,600, the expo’s lowest turnout since 2015, but recovered to about 23,100 last year, a couple of thousand people short of its pre-pandemic high.
The visitor figures for 2023 are almost ten times higher than the roughly 3,500 people who attended the expo a decade ago, before its move to the NEC Hilton hotel in 2015 and later expansion to include the NEC exhibition centre proper in 2016.
UKGE said the total number of attendees for 2023 across all of the three days, rather than individual visitors, reached 52,000 this year – another record breaker, beating the 45,000 recorded in 2019.
Huge draws at this year’s event included a showcase for Disney’s upcoming trading card game Lorcana, which attracted huge queues at the Ravensburger booth all weekend.
Big Kickstarter success Earth from Inside Up Games also caused long queues at the booth, with people keen to try out the plant-themed tableau builder and pick up retail copies.
Games Workshop’s huge Warhammer display at the very front of Hall 1 was also frequently swarming with people, some of whom had the chance to debut the upcoming 10th edition of Warhammer 40,000 due for release later this month.