A new larp festival for the UK! — and it happened on Saturday 3rd February 2024, in Sheffield. It was organized by Jon Fry, Hazel Dixon, Cara Packwood, Char Holdway, and Erin Marsh.
Ever since we started The Smoke, we were hoping that someone in another part of the country would do something like this — to give delicious larp-festival access to people who couldn’t easily make it down to London for a weekend. So I was really pleased to see BOX announced, and even more so now that it’s happened and was wonderfully fun and successful.
The festival occupied four rooms of varying sizes, and had two timeslots, so eight larps total. I was told there were around 55 people attending — so that’s already not much less than the 90 who were at the first run of The Smoke.
In the first slot I ran The Drinklings, the larp about academics at a stuffy old university who meet up in a pub to discuss the fantasy fiction that they write in their spare time, that Anna-Karin Linder and I wrote to be an icebreaker before Knutpunkt 2018. This was in the smallest room, so only four participants were allocated — there was probably space for a couple more, but I guess fire regulations were a factor. Anyway though it was nice to run The Drinklings again with four, as usually there are a lot more people than that. It made for some good intensity and emotion around the table, and less breaking up into sub-conversations.
Then in the afternoon I took part in Strangers, by Nina Runa Essendrop, which was facilitated by Hazel Dixon. I’d been at festivals where this larp was running several times now, without having the chance to actually experience it — so I was very glad of this opportunity. Strangers is an abstract and non-verbal experience, about community and communication — emotionally powerful, it made me think quite hard about the experience of immigration and integration, etc, as it relates to my own life.
So basically it was a great time, and everything with the festival seemed to go pretty smoothly and happily, from what I could see — the organizers dealing ably with suddenly-appearing gaps in the programme, etc. Hopefully this was the first of many BOXes! — Sheffield is a great location for it, so if they announce another iteration, do check it out and see if you can make it.