Brand Licensing Europe’s character parade to make its in-person return at ExCeL London this November

The characters will once again be parading as the doors swing open and Brand Licensing Europe sounds out the return of its in-person event at ExCeL London this November, enabling visitors to once again have their photos taken with some of the biggest personalities in the industry.

Making its in-person return this year, and marking the ‘return of normality’, the character parade has become an annual tradition since the concept was created in 2008, and without a doubt one of its most popular attractions. Taking place at 11am on the first day of the show, the parade will feature up to 100 of the industry’s most loved characters.

Over 500 characters have taken part in the parade over the years, including The Gruffalo, Paw Patrol, The Hungry Caterpillar, Sonic the Hedgehog, Peppa Pig, Hello Kitty, Minions, Paddington Bear, The Cookie Monster, The Simpsons, Dennis the Menace, Asterix and many more.

Simon Foulkes, managing director, Rainbow Productions, said: “The BLE character parade has grown dramatically over the years to the point now that it is widely recognised as one of the industry’s red-carpet events. Like anything, its success is in the weeks and months of planning to ensure that each character is accurately animated, each brand is meticulously represented and every costume is presented to maximise its appeal.

“As the clock ticks down to parade-time the atmosphere and tension in the character green room is electric and as lint rollers and velcro-guards get scattered at the exit curtain each character confidently and assuredly steps out to meet the discerning licensing industry to what we hope will once again be rapturous critical acclaim.”

Anne de Galard, producer, Go-N Productions, added: “We’re really happy to see the character parade back again! The first time we ever set foot at BLE, back in 2017, we were new to the world of licensing and merchandising. We were standing in the lobby when the parade began so we got to see the whole procession from start to finish!

“It threw us headfirst into the festive playfulness and vibrant energy of BLE and we’ve been learning more and more about this business since and now Simon (our adorable animated rabbit) is going to be part of the parade this year – a very gratifying and exciting development.”

BLE will also be launching a #paradeyourself campaign on social media in the run up to the event in November, inviting the industry to share selfies taken with the characters over the years. There will be a prize for the best selfie withthe winner being offered the opportunity to be photographed at the front of the parade at BLE 2021.

Posts must include the hashtags #paradeyourself #BLE2021 and @bleurope.

Anna Knight, VP of licensing, Informa Markets, said: “As soon as we announced BLE would be back in-person this year, the one question we were repeatedly asked is ‘will the character parade be coming back?’.

“Thankfully, the answer is a resounding yes and we can’t wait to work with Simon at Rainbow Productions again to bring back the joy cuddling a character brings to so many people.”