It shouldn't surprise you to hear that 2020 nearly ended the event once and for all, as it destroyed the businesses of many smaller event organizers. The move to Florida was largely driven by the agonizing months of hair-pulling anxiety while the state of Rhode Island jerked us and others around by refusing to officially cancel large events for the month of August, despite it being obvious that the Covid pandemic response was still very much ongoing at that time.
After a huge financial loss where small organizers were left holding the bag and months of uncertainty as to when and where events would return, the future of NEON Retrofest looked dark. Still, we held out hope that we would be able to find a path forward, even when things were bleak.
During late May/early June 2020, we drove down to Florida (as we had originally planned since the previous fall) and fell in love with what we experienced both at a sensory level and also with the state's supportive efforts towards the event industry. We realized that we had a much better option for NEON, in that Florida is already drenched in the tropical 80s Deco and Miami Vice aesthetic that drives us, as well as its status as a major tourism, event, and attraction destination for travelers around the globe. We would also no longer have to keep answering the question, “Why is this happening in Rhode Island of all places?” :-)
Florida has palm trees, sunsets over the ocean, flamingos, tons of glass block and vintage neon, Deco and mid-century architecture, and the artistic roots and heritage that inspired the aesthetic of our favorite decade. We know that many of you will opt to extend your weekend into a beach and/or theme park visit (Tampa is just a couple of hours from Orlando and also has Busch Gardens), and we 100% understand and support that!
Even though it was very difficult to endure what we did, in hindsight it was for the best, because NEON never would have found the perfect home where it truly wanted to be all along. Join us this April and you'll see why.
We plan to open online preregistration sometime this winter around the new year (exact date TBA). Use our email signup form to get alerted immediately when it does here!
We so appreciate your patience, support, and understanding during the devastating impacts that 2020's forced cancellation had upon NEON and small events all over the globe. In light of this difficulty and uncertainty, we are pleased to be able to offer you the following options for your previously purchased ticket(s).
If you wish to attend 2023's festival in Florida, your 2020 ticket can be applied towards the event.
If you are unable to attend 2023's event, you will be able to request a refund of your 2020 ticket costs at the time when 2023 ticket sales go live this winter (official date TBA). We will provide instructions on how to request a refund at that time (via email, website, and social media) and will begin processing refunds on a first-come, first-served basis as quickly as circumstances allow.
If you are unable to attend 2023's event but still wish to support NEON's efforts as a small business of independent creators and artists, you will be given the option to donate your 2020 ticket fees and in turn receive our endless gratitude and appreciation for your generosity.
A survey will be emailed to you when 2023 ticket sales go live, and you will be able to choose from the above options at that time.
Per the state of Florida's guidelines and mirroring the local major theme parks' policies, by attending NEON 2023 you recognize that there are inherent risks involved in any in-person gathering and that no amount of mitigating efforts can 100% ensure that you will not get sick. Only you know the full extent of your own health concerns and conditions and how much risk you are personally comfortable with. You may certainly wear a mask if you wish to, but if you are concerned in any way about the possibility of getting sick, we urge to stay home and instead watch NEON via the many livestreams that will be hosted on Twitch of the event's programming highlights. By attending NEON, you accept responsibility for your own personal health decisions and hold the event, venue, and its organizers free of liability for any potential disease or illness exposure that may occur in relation to the event. If you are feeling sick leading up to April 14-16th, please do not attend NEON.
Since we want NEON to be as immersive as possible, the more people who dress up in theme-appropriate attire or costumes, the more convincing and interesting the atmosphere will be. It's not required, but it's certainly encouraged! Fortunately, the late 70s to mid-90s covers a wide range of options, so if you want to go cyberpunk, Miami Vice-style, wear a funny 80s movie, game, or commercial reference cosplay, or just channel low-key retro vibes, it's all golden. The most important part is having fun and tapping into NEON's environment in whatever ways inspire your self expression.
If all else fails, we will have official NEON t-shirts and other merchandise attire available through the website very soon!
We are currently accepting applications for volunteers, vendors, and guest speakers under our “Get Involved” menu at the top of the screen. Please be aware that space is limited and that spots are curated to fit the theme and the event's current needs (depending on what you are applying for), so we will not be able to accept all applications. We also have a large amount of requests to process at any given time and a small team of organizers, so it might take a little while for us to get back to you. Your patience is greatly appreciated.
We're hoping for a lot! It's tough to read the attendance landscape on post-lockdown events, but while we have the entirety of event space The Hotel Alba offers, we're making sure it doesn't get too crowded by limiting ticket sales.
As in 2018, NEON's programming is mostly geared towards adults—especially in the evenings after the music begins, adult beverages are purchased at the hotel bar and more of a nightclub/show atmosphere begins—however the daytime schedule and lineup can be a great place to bring mature children who are interested in retro computing and video game technology. In 2018, we saw many examples of parents and children enjoying themselves in the arcade and console lounges or shopping with vendors, but NEON does not provide childcare or children's programming, and it is 100% the parent or guardian's responsibility to supervise the children they bring to the event. Any individuals under 16 must be accompanied by an adult to gain admission to NEON Retrofest.
At this time, we are focused on NEON Florida, however the possibility for another NEON Retrofest in Rhode Island (or nearby) is still on the table and might materialize in the future once we have enough resources and infrastructure in place, and if Rhode Island adopts a more business-friendly mindset towards event planners.
Let us know using the "Contact" form under "Get Involved" at the top of the screen, and we'll get back to you. If it's a really good one, maybe we'll add it to the list!