The top VFX, games and animation festivals to visit in 2018

Creative Festivals

Festivals aren’t all about mud and music, there’s something for everyone. Here’s our rundown of best vfx, games and animation festivals happening in 2018.

Whether you’re a professional, budding artist, student or just want to find out about the coolest developments in the creative industries - make sure a few of these are on your 2018 to do list.

London Games Festival

Where: London (multiple venues)
When: 5-15 April 2018
Ticket price: TBC
Best for: Game developers
This festival has a serious agenda ‘to grow the capital’s games sector’. And it’s easy to see why as the UK games industry is worth nearly £4.2bn in consumer consumer spend (UKIE). The London Games Festival is a series of events running across the capital in April. In 2017 it attracted 50,000 people to 40 different events across 20 different venues so it’s BIG. It’s only been running since 2016 but it’s backed by the Mayor of London and has buy-in from all the big gaming companies. Events range from EGX Rezzed (London’s largest games event) to practical game developer workshops to protype demos and BAFTA Games Awards even fall within the festival. We think it’s best for game developers as there are dedicated event (Games Finance Market) to connect games studios with global games investors. Since its launch, Games London has connected 145 games businesses in the UK with 109 global investors, driving over £30m potential business back into local companies - nice! Escape Studios will be exhibiting at EGX Rezzed (13-15 April) so if you do go, come and say hello.

Where: Stuttgart, Germany
When: 24 - 27 April 2018
Ticket price: From £140
Best for: Studios and professionals

FMX is the biggest European festival focused on digital arts. Now going into its 24th year, FMX is known throughout the creative industries. It’s especially popular with vfx studios and companies and you’ll find the big studios (Framestore, ILM, The Mill, MPC and DNeg) all here, either holding talks, attending or exhibiting, or in most cases all three. The festival is spread across Stuttgart and it pretty much takes over this German city. Expect to see previews, behind the scenes footage and hear secrets of the trade. Day tickets start from around £140 but be sure to book your accommodation quickly as the city’s hotels fill quickly with the 3,500+ attendees.

Where: Barcelona, Spain
When: 7-10 June 2018Ticket price: From £20
Best for: VFX students and  professionals

B’Ars is the Barcelona International Arts and VFX Fair. In festival terms, B’Ars is the new kid on the block. 2018 will be its 5th year but the festival has grown organically and carved its niche in the market by focusing on the link between fine arts and visual effects. It attracts a mix of professionals and students from arts, filmmaking and vfx. It’s a compact festival but it’s one of the most accessible international fairs, with day tickets starting from around £19. Plus you get to have an excuse for a few days in Barcelona.

Where: (the clue is in the title) Annecy, France
When: 11th-16th June 2018
Ticket price: From £6 per screening
Best for: Animation professionals

The Annecy International Animation Festival is a mecca for animation buffs. It’s considered Europe’s leading animation festival and for one week each year animation pros flock to this alpine town to lap up the latest animated gems. There are free events plus the ticketed screenings are reasonably priced. The challenge if you’re going from the UK is booking your accommodation in time as over 10,000 attendees take over the town. Annecy is known as being a friendly and charming festival - it doesn’t have the glitz and commercialism of the biggest festivals and is purely focused on animation (covering classic animation to computer animation).

Where: Vancouver, Canada
When: 12-16 August 2018
Ticket price: From £700
Best for: Senior professionals

Siggraph is the leader of the pack - the Glastonbury of computer graphics. The conference has been running since the 70s and it attracts professionals from all over the world. It’s so popular that a second yearly SIGGRAPH conference has been held in Asia for the past 10 years but the main conference still takes place in America/Canada. In 2018 SIGGRAPH will be hold its 45th conference in Vancouver, a world renowned and growing vfx and animation hub. Conference passes start at around £700 so the event mainly attracts professionals and corporates. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a ticket (plus getting there) then it won’t disappoint - with five days of demos, training, art, screenings, and hands-on interactivity. There will be several hundred exhibitors and ten of thousands of attendees!

Where: tbc
When: 23-29 September 2018
Ticket price: From £600
Best for: artists and creatives

The winner for the best conference name has to go to - Trojan Horse was a Unicorn. This ‘digital-rave’ embraces all the quirks of the creative industries into a six day festival, where there’s as much emphasis on fun as there is learning. This relatively new festival might seems like an odd choice but we think it’s one to watch. The 2017 festival was held in sunny Portugal and attracted over 900 attendees. The focus is on digital arts and artists over corporations so here you’ll see presentation and workshops that won’t be found at other festivals. Passes start at £600 so again it’s one more for professionals, plus you’ll have to pay for travel and accommodation. But if you’re a professional in need of a creative break this is one not to miss.

And we’ve not even had time to mention EGX, BFX, Develop: Brighton, PC Gamer Weekend, INSOMNIA 60, Move summit and a whole host of others. Combining work and play is just one of the many benefits of working in the creative industries. If you make it to any of these festival in 2018, look out for the Escape Studios team, our students and Escapees - we love meeting fellow creatives.