Star Wars Celebration: 21 Can’t Miss Panels and Events

This article was originally published last month, but considering Celebration begins tomorrow, we figured it was a little more relevant now.

In just over three weeks, Star Wars fans from around the world will descend on Anaheim, California for the year’s biggest celebration of all things from that galaxy far, far away.

The full schedule for the convention has now been released, and considering there are over four full days of panels, signings, screenings, and merch, there’s a lot to mull over. To help you figure out your schedule, here are our 21 picks for the “can’t miss” events of the weekend:

1. Writer/Director/Producer J.J. Abrams and Producer Kathleen Kennedy

Wednesday, April 15 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM

Details TBA (but seriously, it’s Abrams and Kennedy, this is the can’t miss panel of the entire convention).

2. Disney Parks & Star Wars Merchandise – This is Where the Magic Begins

Thursday, April 16 | 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Be among the first to get a sneak peek into what new exclusives will be coming from the Disney Parks in 2015 & 2016. You will also take an inside look behind the magic at how Disney Parks creates exclusive Star Wars merchandise, with insights from Disney’s creative development team. With Brad Schoeneberg, Cody Hampton, and Quynh Kimball.

3. Fifteen Years of LEGO Star Wars

Thursday, April 16 | 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

LEGO Star Wars was first introduced in 1999 has grown, brick by brick, to become the largest Star Wars licensee. LEGO Star Wars sets offer something for every age group, from regular LEGO sets 15 years ago the brand has grown to encompass Video Games, Apparel, Alarm Clocks, Watches, Keyrings, Books, Theme Park attractions and more – there’s even been numerous popular TV specials expanding the Star Wars story further. Join Duncan Jenkins and James Burns as they take a look back on the first 15 years of LEGO Star Wars, the increasing number of copies and offer a brief glimpse into what the future of LEGO Star Wars holds.

4. Ian McDiarmid: The Emperor Strikes Back 

Thursday, April 16 | 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Actor Ian McDiarmid, who brought the deliciously evil Senator/Emperor Palpatine to life in the Star Wars saga, will be on stage to talk about his career in the performing arts as well as his time spend in the galaxy far, far away.

5. The Music of John Williams with David Collins 

Thursday, April 16 | 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Details TBA

6. Plastic Galaxy

Thursday, April 16 | 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys is a documentary about — you guessed it — Star Wars toys! Through interviews with former Kenner toy designers, experts, and collectors, the film explores the history, cultural influence, and magic of our favorite collectibles. Come watch a special 40-minute Celebration VII excerpt of Plastic Galaxy, and then join director Brian Stillman and collector Gus Lopez as they discuss the making of the documentary and more.

7. These ARE the Droids You’re Looking For – An Insider’s Look at NASA’s Dawn and Mars Exploration Rover Missions

Thursday, April 16 | 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Mike Seibert and Keri Bean, both from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory give a joint talk on their missions and the relevant connection to the Star Wars Universe. Bean works on the Dawn mission in the asteroid belt, and Seibert works on the Mars Exploration Rover mission. The Dawn mission uses ion engines like TIE (Twin Ion Engine) Fighters and is just beginning to explore the icy dwarf planet Ceres, which has a lot of similarities to Hoth. The Mars Exploration Rovers have been exploring Mars, which looks an awful lot like Tatooine, for over a decade now.

8. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones in 3D

Thursday, April 16 | 6:30 PM – 11:59 PM

Sponsored by RealD and Barco, these rare 3D screenings of Episodes I & II in the Star Wars saga come with exclusive souvenir 3D glasses to take home, courtesy of RealD. Bring your lightsabers and cheer for all your favorite good (and bad!) guys!

9. Date With The Princess: Carrie Fisher 

Friday, April 17 | 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Fresh from the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Carrie Fisher talks about her life in the entertainment industry, her history in the Star Wars saga, and just about everything else that comes to mind.

10. Star Wars: A New Hope in Navajo

Friday, April 17 | 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Star Wars: A New Hope was the first mainstream movie to be dubbed into the Navajo language. Come see a behind-the-scenes documentary on how that came to be, created especially for the event. After the documentary footage, and a Q&A session with key players from the Navajo Nation and the film industry, Star Wars: A New Hope will be screened in the Navajo dub – a treat for Star Wars movie fans, and fans of languages, and of course for anyone who speaks Navajo! Presenting the documentary and available to answer questions before the screening will be Manuelito Wheeler, Shana Priesz, and Michael Kohn.

11. One Big Story: Working Within the Star Wars Canon

Friday, April 17 | 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Last year Lucasfilm announced the beginning of a brand-new approach to storytelling: the continuing Star Wars universe would be one huge, entirely connected, canon saga across all media, overseen by the Lucasfilm Story Group. As a major provider of non-film or TV related creative content, publishers bear a responsibility to tell new and exciting stories within these parameters. What’s it like knowing that the projects you are working on are considered canon? How do you approach storytelling so it fits in with so many other types of media? How can publishers work together to help fans feel like they really are reading one big universe? And exactly where does the Story Group fit in? Join Michael Siglain, creative director and Jennifer Heddle, senior editor, from Lucasfilm and Disney publishing; editor-at-large Shelly Shapiro from Del Rey; editor Jordan D. White, VP International Development; C.B. Cebulski from Marvel; managing editor Sadie Smith from DK; and Leland Chee from the Lucasfilm Story Group as they discuss the new world that has opened up for Star Wars storytelling, and how to navigate the intricately interconnected world of a galaxy far, far away.

12. Premiere! Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith in 3D Introduced by Ian McDiarmid followed by Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope in 2D

Friday, April 17 | 6:30 PM – 11:59 PM

Ian McDiarmid, the actor behind Emperor Palpatine, introduces the world premiere of Revenge of the Sith in 3D. You’ll receive souvenir 3D glasses from RealD, but be sure to take them off for the screening of A New Hope in 2D, immediately following Sith.

13. Anthony Daniels: Inside the Heart & Chaos of C-3PO 

Friday, April 17 | 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Anthony Daniels, the one actor to appear in all seven movies thus far, will be on stage to present a unique hour of entertainment. Expect the unexpected when the man behind C-3PO takes the stage.

14. New Allies and New Villains in Star Wars Rebels Season 2

Saturday, April 18 | 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Get a sneak peek at what’s to come in the second season of the Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels, which picks up right where the shocking season one finale left off! Members of the cast and crew, including Dave Filoni (Executive Producer, Supervising Director), Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Kanan), Vanessa Marshall (Hera), Tiya Sircar (Sabine), Steve Blum (Zeb), Taylor Gray (Ezra) and other special guests will discuss the startling story developments revealed at the end of season one and offer some can’t-miss exclusive previews of what’s to come in season two!

15. Ray Park: The Man; The Sith; The Legend

Saturday, April 18 | 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Accomplished martial artist, actor, and the force behind the unforgettable Darth Maul, Ray Park takes to the Celebration Stage.

16. Star Wars Comes Home to Marvel

Saturday, April 18 | 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

In 1977, a few months before the release of Star Wars, Marvel Comics debuted their very own adaptation of the film – which kicked off nearly a decade of stories set in a galaxy far far away, told in the Mighty Marvel Manner! Now, nearly 40 years after that historic debut, Star Wars has finally returned to Marvel and has yet again been met with major critical and commercial success! Marvel Executive Editor C.B. Cebulski, Marvel Editor Jordan White, and Lucasfilm Senior Editor Jennifer Heddle, together with Behind-the-Scenes stage hosts Jimmy Mac and Jason Swank will discuss Marvel’s four hit comic series (Star Wars, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and Kanan) in addition to making not one but two exciting announcements about the future of Star Wars at Marvel! This is one panel no Star Wars (or Marvel) fan should miss.

17. Star Wars at Del Rey

Saturday, April 18 | 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Storytelling is the heart of Star Wars, and Del Rey books has been there since the beginning. Today, Star Wars books stand alongside the films, video games, comics, and animated series as part of the official canon. Join Del Rey Editor Shelly Shapiro, Lucasfilm Sr. Editor Jen Heddle and authors John Jackson Miller, Jim Luceno and Christie Golden for a discussion of the past and future of Star Wars publishing.

18. Global Premiere: Star Wars Rebels Season Two

Saturday, April 18 | 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Witness the global premiere of Star Wars Rebels season two, which continues the epic adventures of the crew of the Ghost and further reveals the early days of the rebellion against the Empire. Attendees will be the first to see the opening two episodes of season two following an encore screening of the series’ season one finale.

19. Double Feature! “Talking to Myself” Starring James Arnold Taylor & Mark Hamill: The Return of the Jedi

Saturday, April 18 | 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

James Arnold Taylor’s critically-acclaimed one-man show takes the audience on a fast-paced, multimedia ride through the life of a voice actor. In the production Taylor performs more than 200 different voices live. Followed by an unforgettable hour with actor and voice actor Mark Hamill, who brings the iconic character of Luke Skywalker to life in the Star Wars saga. There will be one seating for the two shows, and a 15-minute intermission in between. If additional seating is available for Mark Hamill, those seats will be filled in during intermission.

20. Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi in 2D

Saturday, April 18 | 7:30 PM – 11:59 PM

Finish off your Celebration evenings by completing the Star Wars saga marathon.

21. Billy Dee Williams: Baron of Smooth 

Sunday, April 19 | 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Our favorite Star Wars baron administrator takes to the stage for an hour of talk about his life in and out of Cloud City.

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