I just returned from the 2017 edition of the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! show, held in Birmingham, England. I know it must have been a good show; I am so exhausted I can barely move! That’s my indiction of how successful a genealogy event was: measuring the exhaustion levels of myself and other show attendees.
One small example of the crowds at Who Do You Think You Are? Live! 2017
The Who Do You Think You Are? Live! conference was held for three days, April 6, 7, and 8, at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), in Birmingham, England. The NEC is an ideal venue for genealogy events as well as for many other shows and conferences. It is huge, modern, and is easy to access. The NEC is located near junction 6 of the M42 motorway, and has huge car parks. It is also adjacent to Birmingham Airport. Attendees arriving by commercial airlines, such as myself, can ride a free shuttle train connecting the airport terminal directly with the Exhibition Centre. A very active railway station and a bus station are also located at the Exhibition Centre. Finally, several hotels are located either at the National Exhibition Centre or within walking distance.
I have never been to any other genealogy conference that has as many easy access options as the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) just outside of Birmingham.
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 fill one hall. There was room for 19 more conferences of similar or even larger size to be held simultaneously! The NEC is not only larger than the other facilities I have visited, it is also more modern and is better equipped to handle handicapped attendees and also has more food options available. I even found multiple vegan options in the many restaurants in and near the Exhibition Centre.
The Who Do You Think You Are? Live! show attracts a lot of international visitors. I met vendors and attendees from Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Ukraine, Sweden, Canada, and the United States. I am sure there must have been others as well.
I took “the long way around” on the trip to the show. I left my home in the United States about a week early and made stops in Iceland and in Denmark in order to do some sightseeing before proceeding to Birmingham. Most of my travels were uneventful until my return trip home: flights were delayed, U.S. Customs and Immigration was mobbed with thousands of travelers waiting in line for more than an hour in order to be asked two questions each, and then United Airlines lost my luggage. Luckily, the luggage did appear on a later flight and was delivered to my home by taxi the following morning.
Sir Tony Robinson makes a point during his presentation
Typically, the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! show draws 12,000 to 15,000 attendees every year. I never heard any final attendance numbers for this year’s event but my “guesstimate” is that attendance was a bit lower than in previous years, Thursday and Friday both seemed to have lower than normal attendance but things certainly picked up on Saturday. Reports from the vendors were mixed; some reported lower sales than in previous years while others reported they had the best sales ever.
The show was not radically different from past year’s shows held that the same venue. It is primarily a vendors’ event. That is, the exhibits hall was front and center and was busy most all of the time. In addition, there were seminars and presentations made all day long every day at a number of locations around the periphery of the exhibits hall.
The MyHeritage stand looked quiet before the doors opened!
But the same stand got much busier after the doors opened!
DNA continues to be the growing topic of interest. It draws more presentations and more interested attendees every year. This year also saw vendors with newly-announced DNA products: MyHeritage sold a lot of DNA kits for the company’s new DNA service (see my earlier articles at http://bit.ly/2oisJUc, http://bit.ly/2oXE6Cd, and at http://bit.ly/2oXwzDt for the details).
(American) Lila Davis Takes a MyHeritage DNA Test
Living DNA was a new (to me) vendor that had a huge display. Their booth seemed to be busy all three days and lots of show attendees were seen making “cheek swabs” with the Living DNA kits. Family Tree DNA and Ancestry DNA also seemed to be busy all day every day selling DNA test kits.
One thing I like about the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! is the strong emphasis on military history. Dozens of vendors were supporting military history products and services. I saw lots of men and women dressed in period military uniforms as well.
I have attended every past Who Do You Think You Are? Live! event except for one when I had a conflict and could not be in two places at once. I will say I enjoyed this year’s event as least as much as I did the previous events. In fact, I had a blast!
I did learn a few things at the conference. For one, the doors opened promptly at 9:30 AM every day. That’s a much more “civilized” start time than the U.S. shows, most of which start at 8 AM!
I am including some of my photographs taken at this year’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live! show. A few are in this article but you can find many, many more at: http://eogn.com/WDYTYALive-2017.
Click on any image to view a larger version.
If you were unable to attend the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! show, held in Birmingham, at least the photos will give you a “flavor” of what this year’s event was like. You can also find lots of information about the presentations, workshops, and vendors present at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com. In fact, you might want to plan to attend next year’s event, to be held in the same location. I’ll be writing more about it as the date approaches.