A friend brought up Sherlockian travel yesterday, considering his first bit of journeying into the Sherlockian world. I was about to write a lengthy reply with some thoughts on that, but then realized it might fill up a little blog space just to talk about first event choices in general . . . as the options are starting to get interesting. Symposium or con? Classic pilgrimage or celebrity meet-n-greet?
Sherlock Seattle 2016 is still coming up this year, part of the new world of Sherlockian cons that BBC Sherlock has gifted us with. While I have yet to attend this one, it's definitely on my "someday" list, as 221B Con in Atlanta has become a big favorite . . . and I'd just like to get to Seattle one day, in any case. Cons make a great Sherlockian entry point these days, as you can typically find a bit of the old and a bit of the new and see which way your interests lie. One tip -- if you really abhor the new and want to stay immersed in the old, the cons may not be for you. But if you love to see energies abounding about Sherlock Holmes in any incarnation, you can have a good time at these much less expensively than the two bigger 2017 outings on the horizon.
The first of these, of course, is that long-standing tradition, the Sherlock Holmes Birthday Weekend in New York. Happening January 4-8, 2017, full details about the next one haven't come out yet, but everyone pretty much knows the drill: an ala carte menu of Sherlockian dinners, cocktail parties, a guest lecture, book shopping, a Morley walk, random and oft-spontaneous hangouts, along with whatever suits your fancy about a trip the New York. It's the classic, where you can meet the big Sherlock Holmes fans who have been big Sherlock Holmes fans for a very long time, as well as the bright new lights. It's long been one of the pilgrimage points of the Sherlockian world.
But would you recommend the Birthday Weekend for someone's first foray into the Sherlockian community? Better saved for dessert after a few symposium meals? My personal thought would be to save the Sherlock Holmes Birthday Weekend until one has a familiar to act as a handy guide, but everyone's approach is different. Some like a solo dive into the deep end. And if you're that person, which appropriate funding . . . well, grab all you can. But if you want to make sure you do it right the first time? Get a familiar.
Next year's other big alternative is the offering that puts the price tag on the Holmes Birthday Weekend in a relatively better place -- Sherlocked USA at the LAX Marriott, May 26-28, 2017. Now as much has this has to do with Sherlock Holmes, it's definitely an event outside the Sherlockian world in terms of who's putting it on, and its intentions. It's commercial nature is going to want to pry every Sherlock-loving penny out of you, and it's probably not where you go to make friends you will see again next year at next year's con. It's a grand event with a lot of hardcore Sherlock Holmes fans making their way there, but as an entry-point into the Sherlockian community? No. This one is for seeing stars. Which could be a very cool thing, but, wow, that price tag!
A little searching isn't bringing up any of the more regional weekend symposiums for next year just yet. Even Scintillation of Scions is still in 2016 mode on their web page, but they'll all be coming along. Some places, like Maryland or Ohio, have them annually, others like Minneapolis or Indianapolis, get around to one every few years or so. The Baker Street Irregulars even have a big weekend event now and them, like their Chautauqua conference in a couple weeks. These weekends are always hard to beat as an initial entry point into the longtime Sherlockian world, but offer a completely different vibe from the cons. Smaller and tending to be more lecture-oriented, the symposium weekend might be a little more relaxing for some than the panel discussions and party atmosphere that can rev up a con. (Not to say that things don't get stirred up at any Sherlockian meet-up, especially once the official program is over.)
We really have an abundance of opportunity for Sherlockian travel these days . . . more than I can certainly take advantage of. But where would you suggest a first-time traveller get their Persian slippers wet?