LONDON Klingons, Romulans, Vulcans and thousands of Star Trek fans will descend on London this weekend to celebrate one of the world's best-loved television and film franchises at a convention that will have all five starship captains in attendance.
"Destination Star Trek London" will see captains, played by actors William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko), Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway) and Scott Bakula (Captain Archer), mingle with "trekkies" at a three-day convention in London's ExCel arena.
A replica of the bridge of the starship Enterprise, a Klingon zone and a museum dedicated to the 46-year-old series have been erected in the ExCel for the gathering, which starts on Friday.
Organisers have taken a cue from the annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas by creating a schedule that combines appearances from 30 Star Trek celebrities with special events, including a stunt show and a Klingon-speaking workshop.
"We're getting crazier, we're losing our reserved edge and we've been hungry for this style of convention for a while," said 30-year-old Samantha Darragh, a fan and co-founder of website trekkiegirls.com.
Life-long trekkie Simon Foster, 31, said he is travelling to London's Star Trek gathering with his fiancée, a recent convert.
"She is definitely a fan now, she has been busy knitting a Star Trek jumper (sweater) to wear at the convention. She is having her photo taken with Scott Bakula."
Around 17,000 tickets have been sold for the event so far, including 20 VIP packages costing almost 3,000 pounds ($4,800)each, according to organisers Media 10 and Showmasters.
Some fans are travelling from as far away as Australia, Colombia and Vietnam to the convention, undeterred by the absence of Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock, from the convention, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" series.
Darragh said many fans were hoping that a strong showing in London could convince CBS, the owners of the TV franchise, to commit to more series in the future.
"It has had an almost 50-year history and it's still going as strong as ever. I think they could be testing the water to see how much more Star Trek we want," she said.
So far the classic sci-fi drama has spawned six television series and 11 feature films, with the next movie instalment starring Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock expected in May 2013.
The last Star Trek television series "Star Trek: Enterprise" starred Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer and ran from 2001 to 2005.
The five captains will appear at the event's opening ceremony for a question and answer session in front of fans, which was expected to be one of the convention's most over-subscribed sessions.
An attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Star Trek characters was also likely to be a big draw for attendees.
The record was last set by U.S. fans at the Las Vegas convention in August, when 1,040 Star Trek characters assembled.
For Raules Davies, a convention veteran and the official CBS "Trekologist", meeting fellow trekkies will be as exciting as the organised events.
"A lot people go to meet up with other people and that's the magic - you'll find a world of wonders, costumes and creations by just talking to one of the other (attendees)," Davies said, adding that he plans to wear a 1,200 pound custom-made replica uniform from the original television series.
"I can almost guarantee that three days is not going to be long enough because there will be a heck of a lot to see."
(Reporting by Clare Hutchison and Shadia Nasralla; editing by Paul Casciato)