Recovering today. As are the 135,000 other festival-goers. And sadly, as it turns out, a nation.
Attendance figures for the 4 day Festival were announced as 23,000 (Friday), 45,000 (Saturday), 43,000 (Sunday) and 24,000 (Monday). Monday’s total was about 50% less than what I was told to expect as it was a national holiday, All Saints Day. The 2009 Lucca Comics and Games Festival had almost 140,000 attendees.
The Sunday figures are amazing. The Festival is held outdoors and many venues (tents) are not within short walking distances of each other. It rained that entire day yet the streets were always jam-packed. Not to mention the tents bursting to capacity, especially whenever a large downpour occurred and people rushed inside to stay dry(ish). The fire marshalls must have shut down access to the tents 6-7 times throughout the day due to overcrowding. Looking back on it, what could have been a bad situation wasn’t primarily because it was handled properly and efficiently.
Unfortunately, as I found out near the Festival’s end, the rains of Sunday triggered mudslides and floods in Northern and Central Italy which killed at least 3 people. Trains and roadways were blocked off and/or closed. The trains that bring many of the people in had been delayed or cancelled.
I believe that this news did not reach many of the exhibitors and guests on Monday until the late morning/early afternoon. Many of whom had been wondering openly at the sparseness of the crowd in the morning were now somber. Soon some were making plans to pack up early and drive back through the mountains before the situation became worse.
I will be writing a recap of the Festival and providing numerous photo dumps of my experiences here (as well as my trip to Amsterdam and Belgium) over the next couple of weeks so please check back regularly.