Editor’s note: This information was current as of the 2016 Fest for Beatles Fans. For all future Fests, refer to the official website for an updated list of guests and events.
Beatles fans across the world have gotten their #TicketToRye for this weekend’s NY Metro Area Fest for Beatles Fans in Rye, NY. The semi-annual Fest is one of the largest and most enthusiastic gatherings of Beatles geeks of all stripes, from musicians, to historians, to artists, and everything else in between. For three glorious days, fangirls and boys immerse themselves in everything Beatles with their new best friends — it’s Comic Con for Beatle People.
With so much going on, it’s nearly impossible to pick just a few standout events. So we at REBEAT present five reasons why the Fest for Beatles Fans is The Happiest Place on Earth for Beatlemaniacs.
1) The musicians
You can’t celebrate the Beatles without music, and the Fest doesn’t disappoint. Dance the night away with the mainstage acts, filled with the Beatles’ contemporaries. This year’s lineup includes Peter Asher with Chad and Jeremy, Mike Pender, Billy J. Kramer, and Fest favorite Mark Hudson. Add to that the rocking house band, Liverpool, and you’ve got a lineup that’s hard to beat.
But wait — there’s more! The Fest isn’t just about big name artists. A second stage (the “Apple Jam” stage…hehehe) is devoted to independent musicians, putting a new spin on the music we know so well. This is the place to discover new artists and hear the Beatles interpreted in ways you never imagined possible. Be sure to check out Cellophane Flowers (vocal, guitar, and string quartet), NYC “guerrilla music project” Bandits on the Run, and stay up late Saturday night with the inimitable Michelle Joni for her interactive, participatory Beatles freestyle jam.
2) The special guests
The Beatles fandom might be over 50 years old, but there’s still always something new and exciting going on. And the Fest is the perfect place to find out about the books, music, and artists that are sure to be our new favorite things in the coming year. In addition to the fab musicians who rock out on the mainstage, this year’s guests include author of the graphic novel and soon-to-be TV series The Fifth Beatle, Vivek Tiwary; George Harrison’s sister Louise; and Beatles authors Candy Leonard (Beatleness), Michael Starr (Ringo: With a Little Help), and Jude Southerland Kessler (The John Lennon Series and REBEAT contributor), to name just a few. Special guests are frequently spotted geeking out with the rest of the Fest attendees, and unlike many other conventions, there’s no charge for artist meet and greets or signings.
3) The panels
How often does this happen to you? You hear, say, Revolver, and are simply dying to have an in-depth discussion about the merits of John’s vs. Paul’s contributions — yet no one around you can quite keep up with your level of enthusiasm about the topic. It happens to me ALL THE TIME. But not at the Fest! This is the place to fully indulge your inner (or outer) music nerd and examine every topic under the sun, with likeminded folks who are just excited to talk about everything Beatles as you are.
This year, you can attend that Revolver panel (hosted by Jude Southerland Kessler and Beatles historian Kit O’Toole), take a closer look at the famous first Quarrymen photo with noted author Dave Bedford, or let Anthony Robustelli blow your mind as he deconstructs the Beatles’ music in his Multi-Track Meltdown sessions. There’s something for everyone, and excellent panels are happening all three days. (Shameless plug: don’t miss the two Women’s Historians panels discussing the multigenerational fandom (Saturday) and celebrating George Martin (Sunday), moderated by REBEAT contributor Susan Ryan).
4) The experiments
Beatles fans love to experiment, to find new ways to infuse their own creativity into the music and the fandom. And there’s no better playground than the Fest’s dedicated experimental room, the Faboratory. Whether you want to learn how to spin with a DJ, dress up in fab ’60s gear, or share your fan memories and experiences, this is the place to be. One hundred percent participatory, the only rule is that you come with an open mind. Even if you don’t think the Faboratory is your thing, check it out at least once. You’re bound to discover something new about your favorite band.
5) The people
This isn’t just a fest for the Beatles, it’s The Fest for Beatles Fans — for the fans and by the fans. And one of the most fun parts of the Fest is…the fans. You’ll meet and bond with new friends from all over the world who share the same intense passion for the Beatles as you do. For all of us, but especially younger fans that didn’t grow up around too many other Beatle People, the social part is not only fun, it’s an invaluable part of today’s fandom. Whether you’re admiring one another’s Beatles gear, further discussing an interesting point from a panel, or (my personal favorite) rocking out out with the all day/all night fan-led jam, the friendships you make at the Fest last well after the weekend and keep you coming back for years to come.
These are just a few of the many incredible experiences you can have at the Fest for Beatles Fans. Follow the Fest on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information and to keep getting your Beatles fix all year round. One, two, and three day passes are available at the door. Hope to see you there!