I decided to make this post about Otakuthon tips just in time for the convention. Otakuthon is this weekend and we are all super excited about it! Here are 10 Otakuthon tips to help you have an awesome weekend in Montreal.
If you haven’t read it already, I made a full guide for Otakuthon covering more of the convention in detail. This post is just some quick Otakuthon tips (a TL;DR version if you will). Here we go!
You’d figure that parking in downtown Montreal is going to be astronomically expensive, especially for a whole weekend. But surprisingly you can find parking rates in Montreal around $15-$30 a night, which isn’t too bad considering the event is located in a downtown area.
Maybe you’re willing to walk much further to the convention. Or you want to park somewhere for free and take the Metro subway to the convention. In that case, I recommend checking out Parkopedia. It’s a great site that gives you details and sorts of out parking rates by distance and/or price.
If you’re staying beside the convention, I personally recommend parking at either Complexe Guy-Favreau or Complexes Desjardins. Both are popular business complexes that are only a couple of blocks away from the convention centre, and connect directly through via underground walkway, so you don’t have to walk outside. And the rates are pretty good at $10-$12 a day during the weekend.
You can also park at the actual convention centre itself, but it is slightly more expensive to park your car there.
Like recent years, hotels during Otakuthon are pretty expensive throughout the entire city. Under the convention block, hotel rooms are ranging from $159 CAD/night to $329 CAD/night. Unfortunately, the cheapest rooms are already sold out.
If you don’t want to pay crazy money for a hotel, you can try staying in a hostel or dorm to lower the costs significantly. For example, a bed at the Auberge St. Paul Hostel which is only a 10-15 minute walk from the convention, costs less than $50 a night! Of course, it’s not as convenient as having your hotel room and you’ll have to walk through the hot and humid outdoors of Montreal (more on this later in the next point). But if you’re absolutely strapped on cash and want to attend this con, then you can save significantly by staying in a hostel or dorm.
P.S. Want to learn more on how to save on conventions? Read my post about saving on cosplaying.
3. Dress light for the weather!
Pretty much any year I attend Otakuthon, it is freaking hot in Montreal! So you may want to reconsider wearing a bulky cosplay, especially if your hotel is far away. Either that or plan ahead. For example, if you stay at the Hilton or Travelodge, you can utilize Montreal’s underground network to reach the Palais des Congres while staying indoors. The convention centre does have air conditioning, so you won’t be sweating too much while you’re at the con.
On a side note, a lot of places in Montreal do not have air conditioning. Not in subway or buses, and in several restaurants. So definitely dress for the weather!
4. Bag check
The Palais des Congres has an elaborate bag check area on the main lobby floor of the building. It’s $4.00 CAD per item per day. Check out this link for full details on bag check rules (e.g. how often you can come back and forth with the bag, hours of operation). Anyways, bag check is a great option for a lot of you guys. Whether you live within the Montreal area and rather not pay for a hotel, but need to leave your stuff while you cosplay and walk around the convention. Or if you’re from out of town and your hotel is far away from the convention and need to leave your bags somewhere. All you have to do is bring your suitcase, change into cosplay and drop off your suitcase in bag check, and come back when it’s time to leave the convention!
5. Photoshoot opportunities
Otakuthon is one of the better anime convention events to get photoshoots done. The Palais des Congres building itself is very colourful: purple and yellow glass windows, navy coloured walls, dark flooring. The building has a very sleek, futuristic modern look, which is great for series like Psycho Pass and Persona. As for where to shoot in the building, here are some Otakuthon tips regarding photoshoots here:
-There’s a section just above the main floor where you can get some decent shots without any distractions. Just make sure it’s okay with staff to shoot there.
-The Palais des Congres is connected by a series of underground walkways. These walkways are very fancy and decorative, and also relatively quiet. You can get some nice wide angle shots here.
-The Montreal Underground Network provides great cosplay photoshoot opportunities. A good portion is beautifully decorated.
-Right beside the convention is the historic Old Montreal, a beautiful tourist district with narrow cobblestone streets! This area is not only nice to visit, but the area provides a good opportunity to take some scenic cosplay photos. However, keep in mind that Old Montreal is always full of tourists and other visitors during the day. So you’re probably better off shooting early in the morning or in the evening during golden hour.
-There’s a fountain across the street from the building, which happens to be a popular spot for cosplay photoshoots.
That’s just a few cosplay photoshoot ideas for Otakuthon. You don’t need to go crazy because the convention building is nice enough to get some decent photos.
If you haven’t booked a photoshoot yet, I highly recommend you do so in advance! The best way to find a photographer is through Facebook of course. I made a post all about getting the best photoshoot possible.
6. Pick up your badge at a later time (if your schedule is flexible)
Here’s another one of my Otakuthon tips to save you some time: Consider picking up your badge later on Friday, if you have flexibility in your schedule and have nothing planned early in the convention weekend,. The lineup can be either super short or super long. Some years I walk straight into the hallway and get my badge right away. Other years you’re waiting in line for several hours. One year I had to wait in line for over 3 hours to get my badge!
In 2018, my friends who showed up on Thursday for pre-registration pickup waited about 3 hours to get their badge, which is insane. However, I arrived at Otakuthon pretty late, like around 6 p.m. But I was able to pick up my badge in less than 5 minutes! So my point is, if you want to avoid standing in line and you happen to have some flexibility in your schedule, consider picking up your badge later in the day on Friday to avoid the potential lineup.
If you decide to attend Otakuthon in the future, you can also have your badge mailed to your home for an extra fee. That way you have no lineup to deal with. 🙂
7. Not all guests and concerts are included with the badge
Otakuthon has a lot of big name guests and concerts that take place. Some of them are included with your weekend badge while others you have to pay extra. Be sure to check on the website to make sure you don’t miss the ones you want to see.
Speaking of badges….
8. Flip the back of your badge!
If you’re looking for a particular room at the Palais des Congres, Instead of having to go through your bag and take out your guidebook, just flip your badge and look behind! There’s a map of the entire building on the back of the badge, which is super handy and useful. 🙂
9. Don’t just attend Otakuthon…explore Montreal!
This is just me as an avid traveller and explorer – If you’re not from the city, you HAVE to explore Montreal! This place is a fun and awesome city, and you should definitely take some time to explore during the convention weekend.
The best times to do this in my opinion are Friday and Saturday evening, and Sunday afternoon. Other than the rave and some late night programming, there isn’t that much to do at Otakuthon in the evening. So that’s a great time to go out to explore the nightlife and try out some great food in the city. Some stuff to do:
- Walk down St. Catherine Street
- Explore the eclectic nightlife on St. Denis Street
- Stroll down Old Montreal and appreciate the history of this area (and how touristy it also is).
- If you can handle the heat in the summer, Mt Royal Park is a beautiful mountain with a gorgeous view of the city.
Unless you’re staying past the convention weekend, you probably won’t be able to see all of Montreal. But it’s still worth exploring and enjoying this wonderful city! So I suggest setting aside some time to do so. 🙂
10. How to save money for Otakuthon in the future
My last one of my Otakuthon tips to help you save $$$ in the future. If you’re planning to attend Otakuthon next year or after, then you should subscribe to Otakuthon’s news feed on their website and Facebook. That way you’ll know when the cheapest hotels are released so you can book right away. And don’t forget that the cancellation policy for these hotels is very generous; you can usually cancel up to the week of and not get penalized for it. So I recommend reserving a hotel room as soon as Otakuthon announces them for that year. And if plans change, you can always cancel within a week or so without penalty. This will save a lot of money and hassle of having to look for a hotel last minute when most are already sold out by then.
When it comes to transportation – it goes without saying but the earlier you book your bus/train ticket, the cheaper it will be. If you book months in advance, you can get bus tickets for only $10-$20 round trip! Prices will go up as the date gets closer and more passengers book tickets for the same trip. So if you know for sure you’re attending, don’t hesitate to buy your bus/train ticket to Montreal.
And unless you live very far away from Montreal, I don’t recommend taking the plane. Not only is the airport far away from the convention (at least a 1 hour bus ride), but you’ll have to pay a premium fare to take the bus into the city. So if you live in Toronto or New York, you’re better off taking the bus or train that take you straight downtown and an only 15-20 minute walk from the convention centre.
There you have it: 10 Otakuthon tips that will help you out this year and in the future. I personally love Otakuthon and think it’s one of the best conventions in North America. Hope you all have an awesome convention weekend! And if you have any more questions or want more Otakuthon tips, feel free to comment below!
Roger Senpai is a writer that is an expert with the cosplaying hobby. He has traveled to several cosplay convention in North America and writes various articles regarding cosplay including tips, tricks and ideas.