Pokemon Go Fest 2023 London review: A throwback to the glory days

Daniel Megarry
A photo of a hot air balloon at Pokemon Go Fest 2023 in London

Being surrounded by thousands of dedicated fans at Pokemon Go Fest 2023 in London helped reignite my passion for Pokemon Go, just like those glorious early days of the game.

Real-life Pokemon Go Fest events have been happening in various cities for years, but trainers in the UK had – until now – been left to watch on from a distance. That all changed with the arrival of Pokemon Go Fest 2023: London, which saw thousands of fans flock to the city’s beloved Brockwell Park.

As well as event-exclusive features like the ability to catch the Mythical creature Diancie and Mega Evolve a Rayquaza weeks before the rest of the world, the park itself had four themed zones based on habitats like Dark Jungle and Fairy Garden, each with its own unique spawns and photo opportunities.

A habitat at Pokemon Go Fest 2023
The Dark Jungle habitat featured loads of Bug and Dark-type Pokemon spawns.

My favorite was the Hypnotic Glacier, which featured a small room full of mirrors and a second room with aurora borealis-style lighting. These zones certainly weren’t unmissable attractions, but it was a nice way of adding a little bit of excitement and bringing the park to life.

Other notable attractions included the Trading Post and Battle Grounds – both of which were very busy every time I walked past them – Team Lounges to relax in, photo opportunities with Pikachu and Eevee, a Pokemon bus playing anime episodes, and a tent to meet popular streamers and YouTubers.

The biggest area was the massive merchandise tent, which featured loads of plush toys and t-shirts to buy. I was a little disappointed by the quality of this year’s Go Fest t-shirt, so I opted for a Pokemon Go Safari one instead. No, I don’t know why it was on sale at this event either, but I liked the design!

A photo of people playing Pokemon GO Fest 2023 in London
The park was full of photo opportunities like this adorable Poke-bus.

What really made the event special was the people. Not since Pokemon Go’s huge launch period back in 2016 have I seen a park full of thousands of people playing the game together. It felt like that excitement had returned, even just for one weekend.

As someone who typically plays Pokemon Go solo, it also helped me realize just how many people still love this game. Despite the boycotts and backlash over recent years, everyone there was having a good time; families, couples, groups of friends, and solo trainers of all ages sharing the experience.

At one point, an elderly couple asked me to take a photo of them with a lifesize inflatable Venusuar and they told me how much they liked my Mimikyu t-shirt. It was a small thing, but a whole day of friendly interactions like this really makes you feel like you’re part of a community.

Screenshots from Pokemon GO Fest 2023 in London
This is what gameplay at Brockwell Park looked like during the event and after the event.

Once my morning in the park was over, I boarded the Number 6 bus at the recommendation of other players and headed into the city center. Unsurprisingly, everyone else on the bus was also playing Pokemon Go, spinning PokeStops and catching wild spawns along the way.

I finished the day at Regent’s Park, trekking across the grass with friends to take part in as many Mega Rayquaza Raids as possible before heading home. I didn’t catch the Shiny Rayquaza I wanted, but it was exciting to take part in so many Raid Battles that reached max participants. That’s a rare sight these days.

It’s fair to say that attending Pokemon Go Fest 2023 in London has reinvigorated my love for Pokemon Go. Like any live service game, having an active and passionate community is arguably the most important thing, and I got to see that at its best during this event.

I wasn’t sure I would enjoy an in-person Pokemon Go event, or if it was going to be worth traveling down for. But I’m so glad I did. My only question now is: How do I go back to playing regular old Pokemon Go after experiencing an in-person Go Fest event?

Pokemon Go Fest: Global will take place from August 26 to August 27, 2023. You can purchase tickets now via the in-game shop.

About The Author

Daniel graduated from university with a degree in Journalism and English Language, before spending five years at GAY TIMES covering LGBTQ+ news and entertainment. He then made the switch to video game journalism where he produces news, features, and guides for Pokemon, Fortnite, Nintendo, and PlayStation games. Daniel also has a passion for any games with queer representation.