Going to BLE? Here’s 35 things you don’t want to miss at this year’s show

If you’re willing to believe that we’re a third of the way into September already, you’re most likely more than aware that Brand Licensing Europe is just around the corner.

Blink, and next you’ll know, you’ll be three pints deep at the opening night drinks and wondering what the next 48 hours is going to bring… so it may be prescient to have a cursory glance, at least, at just what you can look forward to from this year’s BLE and get your three-day stint at London’s ExCeL prepped for in advance.

Anna Knight, VP of Global Licensing Group and the name behind this annual event, talks us through her 35 must sees at this year’s show.

1. BLE, activate!

Embrace this year’s multiple themes on publishing, gaming and interiors by attending our three live activations. Go to entrance N1 for Beyond the Book, N4 for The Arcade and N5 for Heritage x Interiors.

2. Beyond the Book

Uncover the vast potential of publishing licensing by taking a visit to Beyond the Book on stand D120 featuring over 15 successful product ranges from Beano, PJ Masks, Guess How Much I Love You, Ladybird, Barbapapa, Mr Men & Little Miss, Tara Duncan, Elmer the Elephant, Horrible Histories, Moomin, Miffy, Paddington, Thomas & Friends, The World of David Walliams, Beast Quest, The Gruffalo & Bing

3. Themed food

With more places to eat, drink and sit down than ever before, grab a map and get your bearings as soon as you arrive. Visit the Character & Entertainment Bar on stand D200, the Van Gogh Museum Bar on stand D400, the Interiors Café on stand F462 or the BLE Café on stands B101 and B120. You can also find loads of seating across the back row of the show from stands F121 to F401.

4. Get gaming!

Discover the vast array of opportunities in gaming and esports licensing with our live and interactive activation, The Arcade, on stand D280 brought to you by PowerStation Studios.

5. Stay stylish

Take a walk to Heritage x Interiors activation on stand F460 for inspiration on how to take your brand into the luxury and interiors market with room sets from the V&A, Style Library, Van Gogh Museum and the Natural History Museum.

6. Learn your licensing

Make sure you attend LIMA’s very popular “intro to licensing” sessions at 9.30am on day one and day three in the Licensing Global Theatre.

7. Characters on parade

Be in prime position for Europe’s biggest character parade taking place twice this year at 11am on day one and 10.30am on day two – rumour has it you may see close to 100 characters over the two days.

8. Best of British

Take your seat for the first BLE keynote on Wednesday, October 2 at 12 noon in the License Global Theatre. Featuring the best of British animation including Mikael Shields from Acamar Films, Michael Rose from Magic Light Pictures, Oli Hyatt from blue-zoo productions, Allison Watkins from Coolabi and Sean Clarke from Aardman Animations.

9. Mr Crafty

Visit Beyond the Book on stand D120 at 10am on Tuesday for live drawing with Adam Hargreaves of Mr Men & Little Miss fame – then pop over to the Sanrio stand on B141 to discover more.

10. A warm welcome

Make sure you take a selfie with our wonderful characters as you get off the train at Custom House DLR station…there are plenty of them to welcome you to this year’s BLE.

11. A-Z

Need help navigating ExCeL and our new layout? Pick up a z-card at each of the show entrances, speak to a BLE team member or visit the Information Desk outside the N5 visitor entrance.

12. Feline fine

Check out License This! 2018 winners, Oddcats! by Zara Picken on stand B466 and Animals by Sarah Burman Designs on stand B465.

13. Gallery galore

Go through ExCeL visitor entrances N4 & N5 to visit this year’s Brands & Lifestyle Zone and Art, Design & Image Zones with more brands on display than ever.

14. History in the making

Visit Beyond the Book on stand D120 at 2pm on Tuesday for a Q&A with Terry Deary, author of Horrible Histories.

15. It’s in the game

Visit The Arcade on stand D280 at 3pm on Tuesday & Wednesday and 2pm on Thursday for exclusive tours of this live and interactive gaming & eSports activation delivered by PowerStation Studios.

16. Hear our exclusive second keynote from on the eSports phenomenon at 11.45 on Thursday featuring Difuzed, GAME & more in the License Global Theatre

17. Visit our biggest ever collection of gaming exhibitors including first-timers Nintendo (E220) and Difuzed (E280) as well as Activision-Blizzard (D300), Sega (A281), Pokemon (D260), Capcom (C321), Ubisoft (B241), Bandai Namco (C202), Sybo Games (C302), Rovio (B140)



18. Sporting the goods

Dust off your trainers and enter the astro-turfed Sports Zone next to the License Global Theatre featuring the biggest line-up of sports exhibitors ever including first-timers Inter Milan, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, Federacao Portuguesa de Futebol, Olympique de Marseille and Rugby Australia.

19. Future gazing

Don’t miss the return of the hugely popular panel led by Richard Pink focused on navigating the future of retail including a stellar line-up of speakers from Warner Bros, ASDA, The Point. 1888, Rubie’s & Fat Face in the License Global Theatre at 1.15pm on day two

20. Match made in heaven

Check out the BLE official matchmaking service and book your meetings in advance of attending the show – a must-do for any brand new visitors or exhibitors.

21. Positive thinking

Visit Beyond the Book on stand D120 at 2pm on Wednesday for a Q&A with Charlotte Reed of May the Thoughts Be With You, and previous BLE License This! winner.

22. Take a load off

Looking to rest your weary feet? Head to the Interiors Café on stand F462 and get a sneak peek through the window (literally) of some fabulous room sets on display in Heritage x Interiors on stand F460.

23. Racing ahead

Be prepared for the phenomenon that is Formula E coming to London ExCeL in 2020 by visiting their licensing agent, TSBA, on stand A380

24. A little learning

Make sure you visit our largest collection of heritage brands ever including first-timers Yale University (B432), Royal Horticultural Society (B366), Style Library (D362) as well as the V&A, Natural History Museum, Royal Museums Greenwich, Van Gogh Museum, Science Museum and more…

25. Licensing on the big screen

Check out our big screen outside the entrance to ExCeL and our 17 digital screens running through the ExCeL boulevard for trailers, animations, designs & newly launched properties all being showcased at this year’s BLE

26. What’s trending?

Looking to find out about the latest trends impacting retail? Visit the Retail Trends Lounge on stand A440 and hear sessions from IMRG, Trend Bible, The Insights People & more. Sessions open to non-retailers and full programme on the BLE website

27. Know how to party

Head over to the Novotel London ExCeL from 5pm on Wednesday for complimentary drinks at the Global Licensing Group Party. Meet the team behind BLE, Licensing Expo & License Global as well as the MDs from Licensing International’s chapters from around the world.

28. First timers

Use the BLE Matchmaking Service to book meetings with more than 65 first-time exhibitors including Difuzed, Sutikki, ZAG Studios, RSPCA, Boatrocker Studios, Royal Horticultural Society, Olympique de Marseille, Evolution, Hamsta World, Style Library, Lady Geraldine Designs, Rugby Australia, Sarah Lovell Art & Nintendo.

29. Networking hard…

Make sure you’ve booked your ticket for the Licensing International BLE Official Party at the Museum of Docklands on the Wednesday evening – tickets must be booked in advance through the Licensing International or BLE websites.

30. Unofficial gaming day

Discover how to make the most of video gaming and esports licensing with BLE’s unofficial gaming day on Thursday. Hear a Tinderbox panel featuring Fashion & Microsoft, GfK tackle the “theatre of gaming in 2019” and our exclusive esports keynote , all starting from 10.15am in the License Global Theatre.

31. World view

Visit brands from across the world in our international pavilions: French pavilion situated opposite the License Global Theatre, Italian pavilion next to the BLE Café, Spanish pavilion on stand B320 and the Korean pavilion on B260.

32. Headstart at retail

Working in retail and don’t know where to start at BLE? Attend our free retailer breakfast briefings in the Bridge Café on the ExCeL boulevard each morning from 8am, visit the Retail Trends Lounge for bite-sized trends sessions , a place to relax and ask questions about the show and use the Matchmaking Concierge Service to guarantee meetings with your must-see brands.

33. Sign up

Interested in becoming a Licensing International member? Visit stand C360 to meet the team.

34. Get licensed

Unlicensed brands will pitch live at the show – join the License This! Finale in the License Global Theatre on Thursday at 1pm to discover entirely new properties looking to enter the licensing industry.

35. After hours

Last but not least, make the most of our brand-new home in East London by checking-out BLE’s after-hours programme on the BLE website including information on shopping, restaurants, bars and activities to suit every budget and requirement. Visit Westfield Stratford or the O2 London for the largest collection of luxury shops or places to eat.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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