York Racecourse hosts an array of events beyond its core purpose, with some entirely unrelated to horse racing. From car boot sales and interior exhibitions, through music shows and outdoor cinemas, to book fairs and wellbeing festivals, this epic space is as flexible as it is iconic. One event which may be the furthest removed from the usual race day crowd returns on Saturday 9th February for a Winter edition of their successful Summer extravaganza, the Unleashed Comic Con.
As comic lovers visit the city from near and far to take in the diverse delights of the day – this time themed ‘Hunters, German Commanders and Creatures’ and including media guests from the likes of Star Wars and Dr. Who, favourite comic creators and authors, and classic movie sets – there are also more attractions for them to explore in York. Here are a few places to get your comic-on and make the most of the weekend.
One of the originators of what later became a popular niche, Travelling Man is a wonderful shop which first opened in the early nineties in Leeds and has lost none of its personal passion whilst expanding into Manchester, Newcastle, and here in York. Travelling Man was set up by a duo in love with role playing games who now fill their stores with boardgames, graphic novels and more, with rarities, cult classics and popular modernities all available. The expertise oozes out of Travelling Man, and their Goodramgate shop is a necessary detour around the Comic Con.
From here, a short walk to Gillygate will take you to another unique store full of fun. Sore Thumb Retro Games specialise in imported SNES, Saturn and Dreamcast games, plus hundreds more games and hardware for your favourite console. Having opened in 2016, the obvious obsession of its founder has made Sore Thumbs the go-to place for the joy of games past. He’ll source rare gems from Japan for your playing pleasure and shares the nostalgic love with those rekindling a distant enjoyment and those with an ongoing passion alike.
Hooked in by gaming, you needn’t stop, even when on a food and drink break. On the same street, Random Encounter Gaming Café combines it all, as a pop culture café where you can play board games and video games with a sandwich and soda, or perhaps relax with coffee and cake whilst reading a comic. The choice of entertainment is excellent, and the food and drink is of the satisfying kind, making for a uniquely enjoyably stop-off for geeks of all ages, which let’s face it, we all are nowadays. A shout out here too for OG Games, who treat board and card gamers 0n Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate to delve into their Pokemon, Transformers et al delights.
Behind the social or individual fun of comics and gaming can be a lot of work. For some, this involves not only dressing up as characters or themes of choice, but costume creation. Whether handmaking from scratch or adapting existing outfits, one York haberdashery is sure to help. Duttons for Buttons is a remarkable store of such a small item, making buttons an essential and exciting accessory. Cosplayers in anime or superhero get-up have an immense selection to choose from here, and whilst generally serving the more usual button clothing, Duttons is well worth a scour for the comic con.