Last year MCM added another event to its pantheon – the MCM Manchester Expo.  Like its big brother the London Expo, it promised a day of stage events, cosplay, signings, merchandise and a chance to meet like-minded people.  Held at Manchester Central, the event proved even more popular than the organisers had hoped, with queues snaking out of the door and attendees being shoulder-to-shoulder in the main hall.  This weekend it will be back for a second time with a bigger event space promised, more guests and, unusually for Manchester, some nice weather.

 After a crowded event last year (check out our feature, here) a larger event space is much needed this time round, especially considering the organisers appear to have a lot more planned this year.  Last year's inaugural event was very much a test of the shows viability in the north, and after its success the organisers are bringing a lot more of the content that normally graces the MCM London Expo.  Several major computer game publishers are in attendance, including Nintendo, who will be showcasing Pokémon Conquest, Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance and New Super Mario Bros 2 plus their new 3DS XL console, THQ, who will be showing Darksiders II and hosting a panel with the game's

designer and director, and NamcoBandai who will be highlighting the forthcoming RPG Tales of Graces F.  There will also be more guests this time round, with Harry Potter actor Warwick Davies joined by Fullmetal Alchemist voice actor Vic Mignogna, Merlin stars Tom Hopper and Rupert Young and the stars of the CBBC series Young Dracula.  As with the MCM Midlands Expo in Telford there appears to be more of a family slant to the MCM Manchester Expo, with a combination of guests that would appeal to younger fans and a policy of under-11's entering for free (with a paying adult) after 11am.

For anime fans there's plenty to enjoy too.  As well as the appearance of Vic Mignogna, who will be conducting signings at the MYM Magazine stand from 10am, Manga Entertainment will be in attendance with their usual variety of deals and the opportunity to pick up a few forthcoming titles ahead of their official release, and we expect MVM and Kazé to join them too.  Manga's rep Jerome Mazandarani is scheduled to make some announcements at 12-12.30pm on the main stage, whilst the day will be round off with a Cosplay masquerade ran by the team behind the EuroCosplay Championships.  Elsewhere the event will include the usual array of anime and manga-centric retailers, including merchandise retailers Neon Martian,

 Gundam Nation and Sheffield Space Centre, as well as clothing company Genki Gear to name but a few.  Needless to say there will be many others, making the MCM Manchester Expo the best anime and manga marketplace in the North.  The gaming area will be boosted by DDR:UK, who will bring their array of rhythm-action arcade machines and console games for guests to use for free, and there will also be an Artists Alley showcasing some of the best of UK freelance art talent.  Finally, and somewhat fittingly, a handful of sports guests will bring a touch of local flavour with England goalkeeping legend Peter Shilton joined by Manchester City legends Mike Summerbee, Colin Bell and Tony Book.

If the Manchester Expo proves even more popular than last year, then MCM will be on a winner that could eventually prove second only to London Expo in terms of attendees and size.  Last year clearly proved there is a demand for more multimedia events in northern England, not just attracting northerners but also the Scottish and those from northern Wales to bask in comic and anime goodness.  Providing the event is in a bigger hall this year it will be well worth visiting for those able to get to Manchester this weekend, as it needs as much support as possible to keep not just this event growing, but to help more northern events emerge to compliment the ones already in place.

The Manchester Comic Con MCM Expo is held in the Manchester Grand in central Manchester on Saturday 21st July.  Ticket prices are £5 per day for adults and £3 for children, with children under 11 entering for free.  Early entry tickets are available at a flat rate of £8 regardless of age.  For more information visit www.manchestermcmexpo.com