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Alicia Witt, star of seven Hallmark Channel motion pictures, invited followers to the first-ever Hallmark Channel Christmas Con, set to jingle its means into Edison on the New Jersey Conference and Expo Middle the second weekend in November.
Cheryl Makin, @CherylMakin

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4 finest pals taking up producing a high-profile occasion, in search of success as they share the enjoyment — and stress — of the vacation season?

Will they discover happiness? Will their dream come true?

Sounds just like the plot for a traditional Hallmark Channel film. Whereas it will not be a film — but — it’s the premise of the first-ever Christmas Con, set to jingle its technique to the New Jersey Conference and Expo Middle in Edison the second weekend of November. 

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With the Hallmark Channel USA approaching board because the official sponsor — assume fairy godmother — Christmas Con is ready to run Nov. eight, 9 and 10 — to a sold-out viewers. The occasion coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” programming. The Hallmark Channel is also celebrating 40 years by airing a document 40 new vacation motion pictures this season.

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Hoping for his or her very personal pleased ending, the 4 girls behind Christmas Con — Liliana Kligman, Alexandra Isaza, Trinh Ho and Christina Figliolia — are excited for the large day to reach — nearly as whether it is Christmas itself.

By no means been finished earlier than

Finest pals since 2007, Kligman, Isaza, Ho and Figliolia gathered at Figliolia’s Holmdel dwelling for Thanksgiving 2018 and spent a lot of their time collectively binge-watching Hallmark Channel Christmas motion pictures, when not trimming the tree and “consuming means an excessive amount of meals.”

It was then that Kligman, an enormous fan of all types of “Cons,” realized that followers of the “escape from actuality” vacation motion pictures had nowhere to have fun their fandom collectively. 

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 “We realized we couldn’t be the one ones whose vacation started circled round a festive favourite on TV,” stated Kligman, who owns a movie manufacturing firm, Cafe Oscuro Movies. “Final yr, once we have been having Thanksgiving collectively, I began pondering there hasn’t been a conference for Christmas in any respect and these motion pictures are large.”

Hallmark has greater than 130 Christmas holiday-themed motion pictures in its unique library of movies — with new ones added yearly. The brand new motion pictures formally begin premiering on Oct. 25, with older ones already airing.

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And who cares should you can predict the ending of each one of many motion pictures — that is why folks watch. They exude positivity. The phenomenon is actual and the sold-out Christmas Con is proof.

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“Individuals love these motion pictures,” stated Kligman, whose favourite Hallmark Channel Christmas film — “Matchmaker Santa” — debuted in 2012. “They’re simply so full of sunshine content material — straightforward to observe and all the time, all the time have a contented ending. And so they take you away from actuality and pull you into this magical world the place every little thing seems so fairly.

“I feel for us —the largest draw is that — they make you’re feeling so good and make you overlook the hardships and the stress that we supply in life.”

Grateful for the Spice Ladies

Followers of the forthcoming Christmas Con even have the Spice Ladies to thank for the much-anticipated occasion. If it wasn’t for Sporty, Ginger, Posh, Child and Scary making an attempt to “boost your life” means again when, Christmas Con would possibly by no means have come to fruition.

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Kligman and Isaza, each natives of Colombia, knew one another for greater than 20 years. In 2007, the 2 attended a Spice Ladies reunion tour live performance in Los Angeles. There, they met Figliolia. At one other Spice Ladies live performance that yr in New York, the trio connected with Ho, who lives in Boston, — and the 4 bonded over their Spice Lady love.

“We’re 90’s children,” stated Krigman, who now lives in Miami. “We grew up listening to the Spice Ladies — individually in fact.”

Even the identify of the newly shaped firm — That’s4Entertainment — is a credit score to the Spice Ladies and their 1997 film “Spice World.” It is a nod to how they grew to become finest pals.

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The Christmas Con was a novel thought, and the 4 realized that they had an untapped market. Not solely was there no conference for Christmas or Christmas motion pictures, however the actors concerned had by no means participated in this sort of occasion both. 

 “We thought it will be an amazing draw and we might additionally begin one thing that celebrates the actors,” she stated. “Even for them it’s one thing so new and completely different. That is why so many are on board with it. Some even made movies for us and shared them with their followers.”

The occasion will convey 18 Hallmark Channel stars to the Backyard State. Set to seem are Lacey Chabert, Jonathan Bennett, Cameron Mathison, Holly Robinson Peete, Alicia Witt, Melissa Joan Hart, Jack Wagner, Chad Michael Murray, Danica McKellar, Jesse Metcalfe, Jackee Harry, Nikki DeLoach, Erin Krakow, Paul Greene, Ryan Paevey, Melissa Claire Egan, Andrew Walker, Rachel Boston and Ashley Williams. Bennett additionally will function the official Christmas Con host, Kligman stated. 

Making vacation reminiscences

The purpose for the 4 girls is to make use of their love of leisure to create a spot the place “beloved traditions collide with the flicks which have change into the soundtrack to our vacation season,” Kligman stated.

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Ideally Christmas Con is a place the place pals and households could make vacation reminiscences collectively.

Moreover the possibility for meet and greets, selfies, skilled photograph alternatives and autographs, Christmas Con will function a one-of-a-kind Hallmark Dwelling for the Holidays home, a live performance by Witt, together with Greene as a particular visitor, on Saturday. There may even be two competitions — an Ugly Sweater Contest and the First Annual Gingerbread Wars. Bennett will function host for all three actions with Chabert, Paevey and DeLoach on faucet as judges for the Gingerbread Wars. Bennett and Chabert will likely be available for the Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday, as nicely.

There will likely be a number of panels, together with “Podcasting Christmas” comprising widespread podcasters Alonso Duralde of “The Wrap;” Bran, Panda and Dan from “Deck The Hallmark;” Tim Babb from “Cannot Wait For Christmas;” Brian Earl from “Christmas Previous,” and Jacks and Scarf from Hallmark’s personal “Bubbly Sesh” and “Creating Christmas,” that includes writers Joany Kane, Julie Sherman Wolfe, Alys Murray and Joanna Wilson. Seven extra Celeb Q&A panels showcase pairs and trios of the actors.

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Kligman stated they’re paying a substantial amount of consideration to the choices and ambiance at Christmas Con. That’s4Entertainment likened it to “Comedian Con meets small-town vacation competition.” There will likely be a “Christmas Market,” with vacation items, handmade decorations and festive treats, on the market from native artisans. The “City Sq.” will welcome visitors with Santa Claus beneath an enormous Christmas Tree. There additionally will likely be a Toys for Tots assortment and guests are inspired to convey an unwrapped toy for a needy little one.

One other festive contact that has Kligman excited is their try to “make it snow — inside,” she stated. And the venue will likely be expertly adorned to provide off the vibe of a vacation film set. 

READ: Hallmark Channel Christmas Con: Christmas arrives early in Edison with first-ever event

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READ: Old Bridge popular holiday lights show hopes to move to East Brunswick

This yr has been all about planning Christmas Con. They picked a spot based mostly on demographics of the flicks’ reputation, created an organization and contacted brokers of the celebrities. 

Icing on the cake

All early 30-something, the 4 pals all the time handle to get collectively usually for holidays and particular occasions, regardless that they reside removed from one another.

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With every of the 4 bringing their very own bit experience to the undertaking — manufacturing, group, leisure, funds, customer support — That’s4Entertainment will specialize in conventions and occasions that concentrate on creating “significant and memorable experiences for each followers and superstar visitors.” Christmas Con is That’s4Entertainment’s first official enterprise. And the addition of Hallmark Channel as an official sponsor — that was the icing on the cake.

“We’re so thrilled to have them as our sponsor and to see their unimaginable immersive sales space expertise at our occasion,” Kligman stated. 

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Holly Robinson Peete, star of 5 Hallmark channel motion pictures and exhibits, and Paul Greene, star of eight, invite followers to the first-ever Christmas Con, scheduled for Nov. eight, 9 and 10 on the New Jersey Conference and Expo Middle.
Cheryl Makin, @CherylMakin

The success and assist of Christmas Con has taken all 4 without warning, Kligman stated. Whereas tickets have been promoting nicely since July, after Hallmark introduced in early October that they have been becoming a member of, issues went “loopy,” she stated. Inside hours, VIP tickets and weekend passes have been offered out and solely a handful of day admissions remained. Quickly, they too disappeared.

Individuals from throughout the nation — and the world — have bought tickets, Kligman stated. 

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“One lady is coming from Italy — for sooner or later. We have been like ‘Wow’,” she stated. “We didn’t assume it was going to promote out so shortly. Actually, I’ve been going to conventions for a few years and I’ve by no means skilled that. It simply occurred so shortly. I feel it is due to the kind of occasion that it’s and that it has by no means been finished earlier than. It is rather thrilling.” 

The hope is for subsequent yr to be again in New Jersey and add extra exhibits in cities across the nation.

“Our purpose is to create a enjoyable, festive ambiance — with out overcrowding, so it may be loved by everybody,” Kligman stated.

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For extra info, go to thats4entertainment.com/christmascon.

Cheryl Makin has been a reporter for greater than 20 years – the final eight with the USAToday Community. She enjoys sharing tales that encourage, instill hope and encourage smiles. An award-winning journalist, she focuses on articles that inform the human story. She is secretly a princess and positively will likely be at Christmas Con. Contact her at cmakin@gannettnj.com, 732-565-7256 or observe her @cherylmakin.

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