Insomnia: UK’s Expo Home of Gaming and Esports Once Again
I’ve been making my way to the Insomnia Gaming Festival since 2015, and I was heartbroken when the COVID-19 pandemic almost brought the event to its knees. As one of the biggest, brightest events in the UK gaming scene, Insomnia Gaming Festival was a staple for any fan, creator, competitor, and developer who wanted to network, play the latest games, win prizes, and generally soak up the atmosphere in one of the nerdiest weekend-long events the nation could offer.
Following a relatively paltry showing during the Spring 2022 Festival, I was almost put off – but I decided to venture back this weekend to check out Insomnia 71, offering it an opportunity for redemption. From the moment I stepped through the doors of the NEC in Birmingham, I was taken aback and overwhelmingly surprised – the Insomnia Gaming Festival is back and showing a remarkable return to form.
Insomnia Fuses It All Together, Properly
I walked the halls of Insomnia 71, gobsmacked at everything on offer, from the representation from some of the biggest brands in gaming to the sense that everyone there was well and truly welcome. There were classic sections outlined – indie games, a retro corner, and a sizeable merchandise market. Typically the Insomnia Gaming Festival welcomes hundreds of PC gamers to one of the biggest ‘BYOC’ LAN events in the nation, and that wasn’t just there as always – it was better than ever.
I’m a huge esports fan, and I was very happy to see that well and truly represented at Insomnia 71 – there was an entire hall dedicated to showcasing grassroots CSGO LAN events, complete with a professional stage and a full-fledged production team. There were challenge arenas that included a ‘Battle Royale Bunker’, and sections built to house VALORANT, Team Fortress 2, Fortnite, and even Counter-Strike 2 made an appearance.
Alongside the countless games to play sat the brands – everything from Lenovo Legion and Intel to GT Omega and Riot Games. There was a showcase for Tranzfuser, the government-backed initiative to fund indie development studios, and there was representation from some awe-inspiring charitable organisations, like Special Effect.
If it had anything to do with gaming, it was under Insomnia 71’s roof.
Is There Value in Insomnia Now?
I’ll be very transparent – I was extremely disappointed with the Insomnia Gaming Festival when I saw the state of the event coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was to be expected. It was remarkable that it managed to survive at all, given the crumbling state of some other, bigger events, such as North America’s E3 expo.
But Insomnia has turned things around, and Player1 Events – the expo’s organiser – should feel proud of where the Festival now sits. It’s both family-friendly and accommodating to the more serious gamer. I found that it’s affordable, too – and it’s a brilliant venue in the NEC. I couldn’t fault the staff or those showcasing their games, and there was a decent enough showing of both existing, popular games and upcoming titles to keep me entertained for hours on end – and it never even felt too busy.
There’s even out-of-hours entertainment, with showcases, parties, and esports tournaments taking place long into the evening, and that’s in addition to the panels, talks, meet and greets, and forums that occur throughout the day.
If you’re looking for a fantastic day or two soaking up every ounce of gaming and esports entertainment possible, then consider taking a trip to the Insomnia Gaming Festival – it takes place up to three times a year, and I can now reliably guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.