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Last night I attended Manchester’s version of Twestival – a worldwide event primarily promoted and organised through Twitter to help raise money for Concern Worldwide, a charity bringing education to poverish countries.

As a Twestival virgin and fairly recent newcomer to Twitter I was a little unsure what to expect – for those of you who do not really understand the uses of Twitter and social media (which was me about 6 months ago), Twestival is going to be quite a strange concept to grasp and could potentially conjure up images of a room full of people sat on laptops messaging each other, whereas infact the reality was a lot different.

I arrived early to help set up and instantly warmed to the venue for the event, the Northern Quarter’s Hula Bar – when you have a fish tank full of exotic fish looking out on to lampshades in the shape of dead blowfish you know that someone there has a sense of humour! The tiki hut style DJ booth was also another loveable feature to the bar, with staff donning Hawaiian shirts and an array of cocktails on offer it certainly got everyone in the mood for the evenings events.

The first and main event to take place on the night was the charity auction – loads of great companies donated some amazing items for the auction including a pair of flight tickets to Lourdes, 3 adult SystemOne annual bus cards (worth £625 each!), a flip video camera and a pair of tickets to see Jason Mansford amongst others. Everyone really got into the bidding and a lot of money was raised – a few amusing tweets appeared shortly after the auction had finished from people wondering what they’d actually bid on and won! I guess that’s what happens when you combine cocktails and a very enthusiastic compere!

The next event to take place was the paper plane competition – and wow I have never seen so many men get excited about blank pieces of paper before! There was a surge of people to one end of the bar and a distinctive flight path cleared in the middle of the bar from one end to the other – the competitors lined up, some putting the final touches to carefully crafted aeronautical masterpieces, others simply folding a piece of stolen paper in half and hoping for the best…there were a few surprises and some memorable flights but in the end it came down to two planes who took part in the Fly Off -  after a joint flight it was clear we had a winner and the flights to Jersey courtesy of bmibaby were his for the taking.

After the paper plane competition a lot of the crowd dispersed and the atmosphere became less wired and began to mellow – live music then followed from Manchester’s own Rook and The Ravens. The guys performed a chilled out acoustic set with sweet harmonies and catchy melodies – the perfect backdrop to the rest of the nights social networking.

Overall I think the event was a huge success and raised a lot of money for a great cause – content on Twitter after the event also seemed to indicate that people really enjoyed their evening and found it to be a great opportunity to meet new people and experience what the world of social networking has to offer whilst donating to a really good cause.

For all of you who are dubious about the  benefits of social networking sites like Twitter, I would urge you to consider the huge impact events like Twestival have on the worldwide community not only from a business point of view but from a humanitarian one also –  it’s because of the so called ‘geeks’ and ‘twitterati’ that hundreds of childrens lives will be changed for the better and enriched with education.

You can find out more information about Twestival at http://twestival.com/concern

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