Europe’s Largest Psychedelic Conference Breaking Convention is back!

Breaking Convention Group Photo

Europe’s largest psychedelic conference Breaking Convention (BC) is returning this August (16-18) to Greenwich, London, for its three day extravaganza.

In what feels like a lifetime ago, the first BC happening was in 2011 in Canterbury, Kent, and has since gone from strength to strength. I was lucky enough to give a presentation there about LSD medical models and literature, and had one of the most wonderful weekends of my life – something which has been repeated with every subsequent event!

Now in its fifth iteration, I caught up with one of BC’s co-directors, Aimee Tollan, and asked about how the conference has transformed since 2011, ‘It’s going to be bigger,’ she told me. ‘Basically the same concept, but we now have more space, therefore a bigger programme, and some surprise new additions to last time!” Covering everything from neuroscience, medicine, and psychopharmacology to the history, philosophy, and literature of psychedelics, it’s a truly multifaceted weekend.

Aimee Tollan – Co-director of Breaking Convention

Now almost three times the size of the original event, I wondered whether this was indicative of the wider social acceptance these extraordinary substances were apparently having. ‘The psychedelic world has definitely entered mainstream consciousness more so over the years, and in a positive light. We’re hearing about the use of psychedelics in medicine and psychiatry in the tabloids! More and more mainstream journalists attend BC, so it’s slowly trickling through, which in my opinion is a fantastic thing to happen!’ Me too, Aimee!

More than just a conference, BC has been an important player in these changes, through reaching out beyond its biennial three day event:

‘We became a charity in 2014. It allows us to help disseminate psychedelic research and help those in the community conduct research. Apart from putting on the conference, we publish an edited collection of essays, submitted by previous speakers, from undergrad students to university professors. We also run an awards scheme for students and academics studying within the field, and hold a monthly lecture series with speakers from all backgrounds presenting and attending.’

And what does the future hold?

‘We hope to have a physical premises, which will act as a psychedelic hub/charity shop/work space in London. Here we would sell books and psychedelic wares, house The Psychedelic Museum to raise money for the organisation, and it’ll also be a great place for people to hang out and network.’

Do check out their website for a full list of speakers, workshops and events, and grab a ticket for this year’s event here – not only will you have a wonderful weekend learning about all the latest research and mingling with the brilliant psychedelic community, you’ll be helping establish the future of psychedelic research in the UK and beyond.

Words by Robert Dickins (follow on Twitter: @Cofgoda)


Robert Dickins

Robert Dickins is a historian, writer and editor. He is the founder of the Psychedelic Press, co-director of the Psychedelic Museum, and is currently undertaking his PhD at Queen Mary, University of London. His research interests focus on the history and literature of psychedelic substances, and the role of writing in spiritual and magical traditions during the 19th century. He is also the author of the novel 'Erin', and has occasionally be known to perform a poem or two.

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