August in the UK means it’s time for our national pinball show held in the familiar surroundings of the Mercure Daventry Court hotel, and Pinball News is here to report live on events across the three days.
‘Familiar’ because we’ve been here before, first in 2010 and 2011 (as the Barcelo Daventry), then again in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (Daventry Court Hotel), and more-recently last year (Mercure Daventry Court). The first five visits were for the UK Pinball Party, but last year a new event called UKPinfest took over the reins of the national UK pinball show.
UKPinfest is run by Phillip Murphy who also runs a wider-scoped show in the north-east of England called the North East Retro Gaming show (or NERG for short).
Tickets for UKPinfest cost £20 ($24.50/€22.10) a day for Saturday and Sunday (plus booking fee) or £35 for both days. Kids tickets were £5 less per day. In addition a VIP pass was available for £50 ($61.30/€55.30) covering both days as well as exclusive Friday and Saturday evening sessions. For everyone else the show closed at 6pm on Saturday and 4:30pm on Sunday.
UKPinfest is held at a hotel, so naturally accommodation was available. Rooms were priced at £60 (single) or £70 (double/twin) per night, including breakfast.
The Mecure Daventry Court is a mid-level 4-star hotel featuring a pool, jacuzzi, sauna and fitness equipment, as well as a bar and restaurant. It is in a somewhat remote location on the outskirts of Daventry, which meant a decent walk to get to alternative eateries but plenty of free on-site car/van parking.
With pinball folk having a reputation for being somewhat thirsty, the beer selection was an important part of the show mix, as is somewhere nice to enjoy it.
The show is held in the Danetree Suite which is a large hall capable of being sub-divided into three smaller halls. There is a stage at the far end and a second bar along the side featuring a smaller selection of drinks.
As you can see, the number of machines is somewhat reduced from the high points of the UK Pinball Party, but as more machines arrived later on Friday the room began to fill up.
In front of the stage are machines for the main tournament, qualifying for which is being run on Saturday and Sunday morning.
The tournament used the Drains Tournament Manager (DTM) software to track the scores and generate the standings.
There will be other tournaments held around the show hall at various times during both days.
The Northern Lights Pinball Addams Family Challenge shocker chair is here too, to offer an alternative way to play the classic game. You can read all about it in the Pinball News article here.
In addition to the tournaments, the finals of the UK Pinball League will also be held here at UKPinfest. The trophies for this and the other tournaments were set up on a table in the main tournament area.
There are a few side-rooms which are usually available for any show-related activities such as seminars or demonstrations. There were no seminars scheduled for this year, but you never know who might make an appearance.
On Friday afternoon, the last of the machines were being set up ahead of the opening for the VIP session that evening.
Power can often be an issue at pinball shows, but hopefully UKPinfest has this fully-covered.
That’s all for our Friday report from UKPinfest 2019. We’ll be back tomorrow with more details of the public opening, the start of the tournaments, the full machine list, together with our Tour video and much more. Join us then.