It’s one of the biggest events in the UK internet calendar. To many it’s the highlight of the year and the chance to meet their idols. Long gone are the days of children and teens begging for tickets to an X Factor concert, instead, getting tickets to this three-day event are what almost every teen hoped for this summer.
So what is it? Summer in the City (SitC) is the UK’s largest YouTube and online creator event. Held at the London Excel Arena over three days, the core mission of the event is to bring online creators of all genres together to collaborate, talk about their online experiences and video-making, and learn new skills and how to further their creative platforms. This is done through various panels tackling large topics about the online world, such as “Women on YouTube”, “Popularity Vs Integrity” and an LGBTQ+ panel.
Of course, what most people know of SitC is that over the Saturday and Sunday, fans of YouTube and the various channels they watch are able to meet their favourite creators in meet and greet sessions, watch music and sketch comedy performances, and buy an array of merchandise at the variety of stalls in the expo hall. These stands included creator’s merchandise, Penguin Books, official SitC merchandise, and art and jewellery. I think the impression most have of the event is that it’s just a bunch of screaming tweens trying to meet Zoella.
Well, I can definitely rebuke that one, because Zoella wasn’t there.
This year, as well as being my first year at the event, I was one of over 100 volunteers who helped to run the event. This included answering question (“the toilet is just along the concourse to your left”), managing queues, and ensuring that large crowds didn’t emerge when big creators decided to hold an impromptu meet and greet. Over the weekend I definitely noticed a lot of things, and, despite the bad wrap of press online creators and young people watching YouTube get, all I could mostly feel was a sense of #TeamInternet spirit and camaraderie. People were making friends whilst waiting in the queue to meet their favourite creator, people danced together when Dodie Clark, Jack and Dean, and Jon Cozart performed their acts, and I found the entire crowd the most accepting bunch of people I’ve ever seen in my life – all sharing in their love of these online creators and all of the fun, informative, hilarious, thought-provoking things they produce.
I think that is largely down to the YouTube and online community itself. Long gone are the days when YouTube was purely a place for videos of cats, falling over, and beauty tutorials (though beauty channels still make up a large portion of content). There’s a whole array of content people are creating, so there’s surely something for everyone. Just a few examples include music, sketches and short films, gaming, poetry, ASMR, videos about books, fitness, feminism, and even cooking.
That’s just a select few of topics covered, but I think that the vast array available to young people online is making them more accepting and informed – especially when YouTube creators teach them about subjects schools don’t even touch upon, such as anything related to sexuality or sex. The community spirit was also rife amongst the volunteers, too – I met so many amazing fellow volunteers who I laughed, stressed, and danced with, and I can’t wait to get back and volunteer next year.
So whether you’re there to meet YouTubers and see performances, or maybe learn more from panels such as “Ethnicity and Diversity Online” or “Mental Health Online”, then think about coming to Summer in the City next year. It’s full of a massive range of things to do, a brilliant atmosphere, and will definitely help you learn new things about the online world.