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The origins of WGW lie in an ad hoc meeting of around forty pen-pals who Hampshire had met through NME and which was arranged in 1994.1 Hampshire states that Whitby was chosen for its Dracula connections, although probably more so because this had already fostered a sense of acceptance on the part of locals and businesses rather than any inherent romanticism regarding the location. 1
The festival was held yearly until 1997, when it became twice-yearly, now held in April and October. It has since grown into one of the most popular gothic events in the world, attracting attendees from across the UK and around the world. Most of the events are held at the town’s 1,000 capacity Whitby Spa Pavilion (known just as ‘The spa’, this is also where the ‘Goth Market’ is held); however, other venues such as The Metropole Hotel are used for overspill and The Resolution Pub for unofficial events.
Although referred to as a “weekend” it includes events during the day on Friday and Saturday as well as fringe events on the Thursday, Sunday and Monday. These events include additional club nights, markets, and a charity football match between goths and the local newspaper on the Sunday. There are often unofficial day events that vary from year to year including sandcastle building competitions, picnics, photoshoots and boat trips.
The event often sells out and many more people attend than there are tickets available, resulting in booming business for Whitby pubs such as The Elsinore (where the WGW originally started) and The Little Angel. The October 2007 festival was dedicated to the memory of the murdered goth Sophie Lancaster and a collection was raised of over £3000 from various events to place a memorial bench to her in Whitby.
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