Star Wars Celebration Chicago: What to expect from this weekend's convention

Get ready for five days of Star Wars announcements and reunions. Here's when stuff is happening.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
Expertise Culture, Video Games, Breaking News
Sean Keane
5 min read

Will Star Wars Celebration Chicago bring balance to the Force? Probably not, but it'll have plenty of killer panels.

Star Wars Celebration Chicago

This week, countless fans of a galaxy far, far away will descend on Chicago's McCormick Place for a convention solely devoted to Star Wars -- the first Star Wars Celebration we've had since 2017.

Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 runs from Thursday, April 11, to Monday, April 15, and there's a ridiculous amount of stuff going on across those dates. There are still some Celebration tickets left, but if you can't make it to Chicago, let's take a quick look at the big hits so you know when to look out for news dropping online.

Fans who snag a ticket can get autographs and photos of Star Wars stars from Hayden Christenson, Paul Bettany and Forest Whittaker to Billy Dee Williams and both Chewbaccas (Peter Mayhew from the classic movies and Joonas Suotamo from more recent films). If you're looking to catch up and see what all the fuss is about, check out our guide to watching all the movies online in chronological order.

CNET will be roaming the show floor on Thursday, checking out the creative cosplay and initial product reveals, before the panels and official announcements kick off Friday.


We'll be getting more details about Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron's next adventure this Friday.

JJ Abrams/Lucasfilm

Friday, April 12

This will be a day long remembered -- the Episode 9 panel is happening.

We'd be astounded if Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams don't bring the long-awaited title reveal, the first trailer and a poster. No other guests have been officially announced, but expect most of the cast to show up and hype the final movie in the Skywalker saga. They'll probably reveal the first action figure from the movie too.

A few hours later, we'll see the Vader Immortal panel. The creators of the ILMxLAB/Oculus VR project will offer the first major glimpse of the Sith Lord-starring virtual reality experience, which'll give you the chance to fight with lightsabers.

For the collectors among you, toymaker Hasbro's panel will likely reveal the upcoming waves of 3 3/4-inch figures and the highly detailed 6-inch Black Series.


Are you ready for a glimpse of the Galaxy's Edge?


Saturday, April 13

Parks and video games will be the major attractions on Saturday. We're only a few months from being able to step into a genuine Star Wars planet at the Galaxy's Edge theme park, and this panel should offer more details about the Star Wars land opening at Disney's California and Florida parks this summer.

New game Jedi: Fallen Order, from beloved Titanfall and Apex Legends developer Respawn, will get its first showing at 1:30 p.m. CT (11:30 a.m. PT, 2:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. GMT, 6:30 a.m. Sunday AEDT). We can expect a fancy cinematic trailer and our first look at gameplay as Respawn boss Vince Zampella and game director Stig Asmussen take to the stage.

It stars a Jedi who survived the slaugter of the order in Revenge of the Sith -- the official Star Wars Twitter channel offered a tease on Tuesday with a shot of a damaged lightsaber and the ominous caption "Don't stand out." The Jedi is presumably trying to stay under the radar to avoid Imperial hunters.

We could also get some surprise celebrity casting news, so look out for the actor showing up to blow all our minds. We might also get some kind of surprise announcement of some other game -- fingers crossed.

The Star Wars universe continues to unfold on the page in the Lucasfilm Publishing panel. Authors Claudia Gray and Timothy Zahn will talk about the upcoming novels Master & Apprentice and Thrawn: Treason, while Delilah S. Dawson is expected to reveal her next book.


We'll learn more about this character at The Mandalorian panel on Sunday.


Sunday, April 14

Sunday will be Disney Plus day, when we hear more about two TV shows due to appear on Disney's planned streaming service.

We could see the first trailer or clips of live-action series The Mandalorian, starring Pedro Pascal and inspired by classic character Boba Fett.

We know executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni will be there. As with the Episode 9 panel, at least one of the cast members -- probably Pascal -- will likely show up.

Next up is The Clone Wars, Season 7 sneak peek panel. The beloved CGI animated show will be returning later this year, but there aren't many confirmed details so far. Filoni, who's always an insightful, entertaining panelist, and a bunch of surprise guests will no doubt make this one of the standouts.


Can you believe it's been 20 years since we first saw Darth Maul spinning and flipping his way through The Phantom Menace? Monday will celebrate the anniversary.


Monday, April 15

The last day of the convention is usually the quietest in terms of panels, but there are at least two panels we're excited about.

That afternoon, the Resistance panel will probably give us our first look at the CGI animated show's second season -- the last episode of Season 1 was a humdinger, so this'll be a good one.

The big curveball of Celebration 2019 could be the The Phantom Menace 20th anniversary celebration, hosted by actor Warwick Davis.There probably won't be any major announcements at this one, but a reunion of the cast and crew could be a blast.

Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Ray Park (Darth Maul) and Ian McDiarmid (the delightful Senator Palpatine) are already appearing at Celebration, so they could take the stage together. Fingers crossed for surprises like Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker), Natalie Portman (Queen Amidala), Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn) and Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi). It'll be fascinating to see how time has changed stars' and fans' relationship with the much-maligned prequels.

And if the Force is truly with us? Maybe creator George Lucas could show up.

Every Star Wars Movie, Ranked

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When can I watch the panels?

You'll be able to stream the big ones from the official Star Wars YouTube channel. Here are the exact times:

Episode 9: 11 a.m. CT (9 a.m. PT, 12 p.m. ET, 4 p.m. ET, 4 a.m. Saturday AEDT)
Vader Immortal: 1:30 p.m. CT (11:30 a.m. PT, 2:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. GMT, 6:30 a.m. Saturday AEDT)

Galaxy's Edge: 11 a.m. CT (9 a.m. PT, 12 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. GMT, 4 a.m. Saturday AEDT)
Jedi: Fallen Order: 1:30 p.m. CT (11:30 a.m. PT, 2:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. GMT, 6:30 a.m. Sunday AEDT)

The Mandalorian: 11 a.m. CT (9 a.m. PT, 12 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. GMT, 4 a.m. Monday AEDT)
The Clone Wars: 1:30 p.m. CT (1:30 p.m. PT, 4:30 p.m. ET, 9:30 p.m. GMT, 8:30 a.m. Monday AEDT)

The Phantom Menace 20th anniversary: 11 a.m. CT (9 a.m. PT, 12 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. GMT, 4 a.m. Monday AEDT)
Resistance: 1:30 p.m. CT (1:30 p.m. PT, 4:30 p.m. ET, 9:30 p.m. GMT, 8:30 a.m. Monday AEDT)