For years, conventions celebrating the science fiction franchise Star Trek have attracted thousands of people in countries all around the world, but for two weekends in 1995 and 1996, the place to be for Trekkies (or Trekkers!) was the Royal Albert Hall – home to two sold-out Star Trek conventions.
4 – 5 February 1995: Generations
1995’s Generations became the largest Star Trek convention ever staged and welcomed the full cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and over 10,000 fans (many of whom in full costume) over two days at the Hall to celebrate the beloved franchise.
Stewart speaking at the Star Trek Convention 1995
Nichelle Nichols signing books at the Star Trek Convention
Michael Dorn speaking at the Star Trek Convention
Leading cast members, including Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis, took to the Hall’s stage over the two days to talk about their experiences on the Starship Enterprise and field questions from fans.
Aside from the on-stage entertainment, the rest of the Hall was taken over by Star Trek paraphernalia, with vendors selling limited edition items and stars of the programme participating in autograph opportunities.
‘An absolutely magnificent event, probably the best ever in the history of Trek’
‘Sometimes conventions are the stuff of history and once in a lifetime events and the Generations weekend was certainly that and I’m very glad I got to be there.’
Owen Quinn, Time Warriors
6 – 8 April 1996: Generations II
Following the success of Generations, the Trekkies returned to the Hall the following year for Generations II.
The convention, which was spread over the whole Easter weekend, coincided with Star Trek’s 30th anniversary and welcomed some of the stars from The Original Series, including William Shatner, Walter Koenig and George Takei.
It was a chance to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the franchise, which had by then spread to over 100 countries, released seven films and helped inspire some of the major technological advances of the time, such as mobile phones and personal computers.
Following a similar format to 1995’s Generations, this event once again treated Trekkies to talks, Q&As, autograph opportunities and unique merchandise stalls. As well as this, a former member of staff has shared a rather unique memory of Star Trek romance:
Mo Crowe was the Event Manager at the Royal Albert Hall looking over the two conventions. Whilst she can neither confirm nor deny the Klingon wedding story, she retains fond memories of both events:
‘My main memories of Generations are of the merchandise stalls being rammed with people in full Star Trek costume queuing for strange items such as X Files aliens pickled in jars! The cast backstage were extremely excited; I remember that Patrick Stewart was passionately interested in the history of the Hall.’
Her memories of Generations II were even fonder, following a bizarre meeting with a former hero:
‘The second convention was even more exciting for me because I got to meet my childhood idols. I took William Shatner (Captain Kirk) for a tour of the roof – he wanted to abseil down on to the stage to make a spectacular entrance but health and safety regulations meant we sadly couldn’t do it. Each character entered through a sliding door at the back of the stage in a puff of smoke to rapturous applause.’
The return of Star Trek
Star Trek returned some 18 years later with a three-day celebration of Michael Giacchino’s music from the J.J. Abrams films Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).
JJ Abrams, Simon Pegg and Michael Giacchino speaking during the UK Premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness Live in Concert
These live-in-concert film screenings saw conductor Ludwig Wicki lead the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of the score, whilst the film was screened in high-definition overhead.
J J Abrams in the Royal Albert Hall autograph book