NOTE: Photos are available at http://eogn.com/images/newsletter/albums/Birmingham-2016/album/index.html
Who Do You Think You Are? Live! turned out to be almost exactly as expected. The hallways and aisles in the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), in Birmingham, England, were crowded with thousands of genealogists. I know it must have been a great event simply because I was so tired at the end of each day!
The annual Who Do You Think You Are? Live! event is the largest genealogy conference in the UK and I believe it is the second-largest in the world. (RootsTech in Salt Lake City appears to be the largest.) I never obtained a headcount of visitors to the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! but it obviously was in the many of thousands of family historians and others with an interest in history and in researching their family trees.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, I have the equivalent of about 72,000 words available at http://eogn.com/images/newsletter/albums/Birmingham-2016/album/index.html. That is an online photo album containing many of the photos I took at the conference. It should give you a feel of the exhibits hall and “theatres” at the conference.
Unlike many other genealogy conferences I attend, the primary focus of Who Do You Think You Are? Live! is the exhibits hall. When attendees enter the conference center, they first enter the exhibits hall with dozens and dozens of genealogy societies and commercial vendors showing their products and services. You can find a list of all of this year’s exhibitors at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com/about-show/our-exhibitors.
The entire conference is held in one huge room. The larger presentations and workshops were all held in areas along the outer periphery of the exhibits hall with a few of the smaller theaters actually embedded in exhibitors’ displays.
The National Exhibition Centre, or NEC, is an ideal place for a conference with several thousand attendees. I believe there are 20 exhibition halls inside the cavernous NEC facility. Yes, twenty! All the several thousand genealogists and the vendors combined did not completely fill one hall. There was room for 19 more conferences of similar or even larger size to be held simultaneously in the other halls!
The halls vary in size with some of them being several times larger than the one where Who Do You Think You Are? Live! was held. When was the last time that you saw a speed limit sign for travel INSIDE a building?
Yes, this picture was taken at the entrance to one of the loading areas in the National Exhibition Centre. That one exhibition hall alone had room for perhaps 40 or 50 tractor-trailer units to be unloading inside simultaneously and, again, that was only one of the 20 available exhibition halls.
The conference included workshops, presentations, exhibitors, military re-enactors and more. One of the most popular services that was carried over from previous years was the Society of Genealogists’ “Ask the Experts” area. Show attendees had an opportunity to get some one-on-one guidance on their family history research questions and problems. It was a perfect opportunity to pose specific questions to an expert who usually could provide an invaluable advice.
I could go on and list all the other services available but that list has already been created elsewhere. The complete list of events is listed on the conference’s web start beginning at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com/workshop-timetable, http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com/workshop-timetable-dna, and at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com/workshop-timetable-the-genealogist. If you would like to know what went on this week, I would suggest you start at those addresses.
The National Exhibition Centre is also a great location for travelers. While it is well outside the city at 8 miles east of Birmingham city centre, it is at the heart of the UK motorway network, only a few hundred yards from the M42 motorway.
The NEC is only a few hundred yards from Birmingham’s international airport. The airport and the NEC are connected by a monorail system. Anyone arriving at the airport can travel on the (free) monorail without going outside. That’s convenient in England’s weather! I flew directly from the US to the Birmingham International Airport and stayed at one of the several hotels within walking distance of the NEC and the airport.
Likewise, the railroad station is directly connected to the National Exhibition Centre. Again, those who arrive by train can walk into the NEC without going outside although this time there is no need to use the monorail.
Numerous restaurants are located inside the National Exhibition Centre and many more are available at Resorts World, a movie theater and casino located a short walk away.
During my entire stay in Birmingham, I don’t believe I ever went more than a half mile away from the airport! There was no need to do so unless I wanted to do more than attend the conference. “Getting around” was a non-issue.
I decided to take lots of pictures to provide an idea of what the conference looked like. I wrote at the end of Day #1, “I took a lot of pictures today. As I write these words, my camera is struggling to upload all the pictures to the eogn.com web site over a very, very slow wi-fi connection in the hotel. I don’t believe it will finish until after I fall asleep tonight.”
After a bit of detective work, I discovered the hotel’s wi-fi network either blocked or throttled ALL file uploads. That explains why I was unable to upload more than 3 or 4 photos! However, upon returning home, I was able to quickly upload 72 photos to the eogn.com web site and they are now visible to everyone at http://eogn.com/images/newsletter/albums/Birmingham-2016/album/index.html.
You might want to take a look at my photos at http://eogn.com/images/newsletter/albums/Birmingham-2016/album/index.html and also look at photos from other attendees at https://www.facebook.com/Who-Do-You-Think-You-Are-LIVE-7-9-April-2016-140737404670/.
I plan to be back next year. Will I see you there?