MISSING TV’s Benidorm? Now you can holiday with Mateo and Co.
The hit ITV sitcom, che è stato assalito in 2018 after ten series, is returning in November — not to our screens, but in real life.
Benicon, a three-day fan convention featuring its stelle and crew, is landing on the sunny Spanish Costa Blanca from November 18.
It has been set up by show creator Derren Litten following a smash-hit stage version of the series.
Whether you make it to the event or not, here’s how you can holiday like the cast in the famous Spanish resort.
STAY AT THE SOLANA
If you’ve imagined yourself perching at the swim-up bar and flirting with the barman at the sitcom’s all-inclusive Solana hotel, vai al Sol Pelicanos Ocas Hotel.
This is where the outside shots and pool scenes were filmed, so you too can stretch out on a sun lounger or order a cold beer while cooling off in the pool, just like the Garveys.
If you want to mix with some familiar faces from the Solana, the actual place to be is the Melia Benidorm Hotel, where the convention will be held.
It was also home to many of the actors during filming and where script read-throughs were held.
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Look out for script read-throughs, Q&A sessions with cast and crew, quizzes, competitions and photo opportunities with fan favourites. You might also spot some famous props and costumes, pure.
Like the Sol Pelicanos Ocas, the Melia Benidorm has a huge pool so you can soak up the Spanish sun before heading off for a sundowner or some karaoke.
It also has an indoor heated pool and is just 900m from the beach — although you’re unlikely to see Geoff Maltby (Johnny Vegas) parachuting on to it.
HAVE A DRINK IN NEPTUNE’S
Just like in the show, fans will be able to take to the stage during Benicon and belt out Spanish Eyes or Una Paloma Blanca in the famous Neptune’s Bar.
They’ll even get an introduction from Janey York (Crissy Rock), the Solana’s first manager.
Nella vita reale, Neptune’s is Morgan’s Tavern, just over the road from Sol Pelicanos Ocas.
Nearby is Mateo’s, the themed bar Derren opened after Benidorm came to an end.
When you’re perched at the bar enjoying a Madge special or a Pink Pussy cocktail, it may feel familiar — the bar is actually the Solana’s reception desk.
And like the man it is named after, Mateo’s is hugely popular with holidaymakers.
Derren, who was honoured by the local mayor in 2012 for the effect the show has had on tourism, dice: “People build their holiday around coming to the bar and a grand tour of the location. It’s staggering.”
GO LOCATION SPOTTING
During the weekend, fans can get a special tour of some of the show’s filming locations, including the Algar Waterfalls (Las Fuentes del Rio Algar), a natural beauty spot about 15km outside of Benidorm.
There will also be a boat trip to nearby Peacock Island (La Isla de Benidorm), a small nature reserve that Mel Harvey (played by the late Geoffrey Hutchings) memorably tried to buy in series three.
WATCH A SHOW AT BENIDORM PALACE
The highlight of the weekend will be a gala reunion show at the Benidorm Palace.
The extravaganza will feature sketches with cast members and performances from singers including Asa Elliott — and possibly some of the show’s very special guest stars.
Fans will also get a chance to grace one of Europe’s biggest stages, with the best — and worst — karaoke singers invited to strut their stuff, alongside winners of the fancy dress competition.
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GETTING THERE: Ryanair flies from the UK to Alicante from £16.99 each way. Vedere ryanair.com.
STAYING THERE: A Benicon Stay With The Stars package costs from £244pp, which includes three nights’ B&B at the Melia Benidorm, airport transfers, a weekend pass for the convention and a seat at the Benidorm Palace for the Sunday night gala. Half-board and full-board options available. Vedere roundtowntravel.com.
FUORI & ABOUT: Excursions to the Algar Waterfalls cost from £16.47pp and excursions to La Isla de Benidorm are from £15.19pp. Vedere roundtowntravel.com. A three-day pass to Benicon costs £95 per adult or £142.50 per parent and child under-11 (plus booking fee). Vedere benicon.com.