Best Anime conventions!
What are the best Anime conventions in the world? Maybe you’re one of the weird ones like me. Where instead of just finding a cosplay convention near you, you’re willing to take your car or hop on a plane to attend a bigger and better convention. As you get older and have more money, you’ll find it easier to do this. Or if you have very generous friends, you can hitch a ride with them!
In either case, if you’re looking for the best Anime conventions, I’m here to give you my opinion on it. So in this article, I’ll give you my personal top 5 best Anime conventions you need to attend someday!
Now keep in mind, just like most people, I haven’t been to every single notable convention out there. Unless you’re super rich, it’ll be difficult to do that. I feel it’s important to note the cons that are probably contenders for best conventions, but I myself have not attended.
So here are some notable cons I haven’t been to (yet):
- Dragon Con
- Momo Con
- Anime NYC
- Anime Expo
I’m sure if I attended and experienced one of the cons above, it would definitely be on this list. Oh well, there are plenty of other food cons as well.
Here are my top 5 best Anime conventions!
What can I say about YetiCon that hasn’t been said already on this blog? (Click here to read my guide on YetiCon). YetiCon is truly a special convention that attendees in the Greater Toronto Area get to enjoy every beginning of the summer (well, before the Cerveza sickness took over the world).
If you don’t know, YetiCon is a cosplay convention that takes place at Blue Mountain, a ski resort that turns into summer activities when the weather is warm. It’s unlike your typical cosplay convention.
The location is insanely beautiful, with photoshoot opportunities everywhere: the top of the mountain, the artificial waterfall, the pond, numerous green areas and more.
So not only at YetiCon do you get to enjoy your typical convention activities such as panels and nightly activities, you also get to use the Blue Mountain resort activities at a discounted rate, or even free at certain times! For example, riding the gondola is free from 1-3 pm on the Saturday. Or the big swimming pool aquatic centre is free all day on Sunday!
What amazes me about YetiCon is how the organizers are able to negotiate with the owners of Blue Mountain to give discounts and free tickets for their activities, while also hosting a cosplay convention at arguably Canada’s most popular ski resort! YetiCon is truly a unique convention experience that I highly recommend everyone to try at least once. It gets a spot on my top 5 best Anime conventions!
If you’d like to read my YetiCon guide and my experience, click here for the full complete guide on it!
I feel like Youmacon gets a lot of criticism and I’m not sure why. I’ve attended the con at least 3 times and each time I’ve had a wonderful experience. When I first heard about Youmacon, I’m like, “Why would I want to attend a convention in Detroit of all places?!”
Well, I’m glad I overcame my stereotypes because not only was downtown Detroit a pleasant place to visit, but Youmacon itself is an awesome convention!
It has to be one of the largest Anime conventions in North America, because the convention itself takes place in 2 huge buildings; The GM Center Hotel, which is 4-5 stories with multiple rooms and shops inside the center. The other building is Huntington Place (formerly known as the Cobo Center), and it’s a HUGE convention building.
What’s unique about the con is that the two buildings are pretty far from each other, like 5-10 minute walk. It takes place usually during Halloween weekend, so it can get chilly. But get this; there’s an automated train that stops at the GM Center and INSIDE the Huntington Palace! So for 75 cents or if you have a weekend pass, you can hop on this train to get to/from the two buildings. When I first arrived at Youmacon, I thought this would be a hassle, but it wasn’t at all. It was fun taking the train to another building.
As for the programming, Youmacon has your standard big Anime convention stuff like panels, guest and Masquerades. But what stands out is the gaming and tabletop room. My first couple of years, both Tabletop and Video gaming were 24 hours. Yes, I was playing Arcade Mortal Kombat at 5 am in the morning one year. Or playing card games with my friends in the tabletop gaming at 1 in the morning. It was freaking awesome. I don’t think it’s 24 hours anymore due to the gaming room being at the Huntington Palace, but it still stays open late.
Overall, I really enjoy Youmacon because it’s not your large Anime convention. It doesn’t feel soulless as some of your typical big cons. If you’re looking for an industry-standard type of con, then probably Youmacon is not for you. But if you want to chill at a con and have fun for the weekend and love late night programming like I do, then Youmacon is absolutely recommended. And that’s why it’s on my top 5 best Anime conventions list!
If you want to learn more about Youmacon and my experience with that con, click here to read my article about it.
Disclaimer: I went to MAGFest over 5 years ago and I’m explaining my experience at the time. So the con may have gotten even better or worse in the 2020s. Either way, my experience was so amazing that I had to include it on this list!
I’m not sure if there are actual conventions dedicated towards video games. I don’t count the exhibit type events like PAX or E3, as they’re more of a trade show than a con experience. But either way, I consider MAGFest to be one of the best cons out there, and definitely the #1 convention for video games.
I was only able to go once, but boy I had an amazing time. Where do I start? If you love to play video games, you’re totally in luck. The video game room MAGFest is insanely huge. It took about at least 4 stage size panel rooms! Like imagine the room for a large Masquerade and then put 4 of them together; that’s how big the gaming room was at MAGFest! Even on Saturday afternoon during peak crowds, I was still able to play a bunch of video games for myself! Of all the video game rooms at a con, MAGFest has the best one by far.
MAGFest is one of the largest geek conventions in America, and it’s so well-run for a 4 day event. Not only that, they also foster a fun and relaxing environment at the con. There were a lot of Easter eggs scattered around the con, which is a fun nod to video games with the same thing. And people were randomly screaming, “Ahhhh!”, which is all part of the MAGFest culture.
And just because MAGFest is a video game con, doesn’t mean you can’t cosplay! In fact, tons of people cosplay at the convention, including me (I was Marth of course). For the longest time, MAGFest was the con you attended if you wanted to get cosplay photos at the famous gazebo instead of at Katsucon, which was far more busier and more difficult to get photos. However, I think MAGFest is so popular now, that’s it’s no longer a secret!
As for panels and activities, I thoroughly enjoyed them as a video gamer. Stuff discussing about how rap music is influenced by video games, and how video game music follows a specific musical pattern. I learned so much from these panels. And there were live video game music performances from famous composers such as David Wise (Donkey Kong Country). If you love video game music, you’ll love MAGFest.
Honestly, if MAGfest was just a video game convention, that would have been good enough. But the convention at the time went above and beyond that, even rivalling some of the biggest Anime conventions I’ve been to. For that reason, I put MAGFest as #2 on this list!
Now I know that the con has seen turbulent times recently. But hopefully the quality of the convention has still been the same, even after all these years!
2. Anime Central
Anime Central (or Acen for short) is definitely my favorite Anime convention of all time for so many reasons! I was tempted to put Acen at #1, but there’s a con that’s so well-run, that I had to put Acen at #2 instead. While the con is my personal favorite, why is it the second best to me (and in my opinion, one of the best Anime conventions in the US)?
To be frank, it’s hard to describe. Unlike most cons I’ve been to, the attendees at Anime Central have a really upbeat vibe! And I’d say it’s because the convention for EVERYONE. Whether you just want to attend panels, dress up and cosplay, or party all night, there’s always something for everyone to do at Anime Central.
And because of that, the convention has a really fun and positive vibes! Everyone is so friendly and giving each other hi fives, very social and active. People singing along to songs in the evening. It’s amazing to see how fun and awesome Acen is.
There’s really no pretentious vibe or elitism at the con. Pretty much everyone is there is there to have fun, and that alone makes it a great atmosphere. Acen combines the warm and friendly vibe of a small con, while having the fun and energy of a big con.
As for the programming, it’s top notch of course. Tons of panels and programming. The dealer’s room is huge. Video gaming and tabletop are 24 hours. And Acen lives up to its reputation as a party con, with 2 big raves on Friday and Saturday going almost all night long!
Anime Central is criminally underrated. It’s truly one of the best cons I’ve ever been to. The crowd and atmosphere is unlike any other; you will have a great time here (if you have the right attitude). There are numerous activities and panels to attend, from early in the morning to all the way at night. And if you love to party, Acen is YOUR con!
Acen is one of the best Anime conventions in the US. Highly recommend attending. And as a bonus, you get to visit the awesome city of Chicago!
P.S. I did a review of Acen. Click here if you want to read.
At Number 1, I have Otakuthon. It’s the second largest Anime convention in Canada, and it takes place in Montreal, Quebec. While I enjoy Otakuthon and usually have a good time there, it’s not my favorite convention. Yet I can appreciate how extremely well-run this convention is. So much so that I rank Otakuthon as the Number 1 con.
I can remember when Otakuthon started off small around 10 years ago. Compared to other big cons in North America, it was relatively small in terms of attendance. Fast forward to 2019 (the last time we had Otakuthon because of the pandemic), and Otakuthon because one of the largest conventions on the continent! It just shows you how awesome this convention is, to be able to rise so quickly in a matter of years.
Really, it’s the small things I noticed how beautifully run the organizers of Otakuthon do their job.
As for programming, Otakuthon has it all. They even have the World Cosplay Competition, which is unheard of in Canada. And for a Canadian Anime convention, Otakuthon is able to bring huge name guests from Japan, which is simply amazing.
My only knock on the convention is the gaming room is a bit lacking. And sometimes things don’t go perfect; there were some years where I had to wait hours to pick up my badge. But other than that, Otakuthon is the best example of a well-run convention. And that’s why it’s the #1 on the Best Anime conventions list.
To summarize, here are the Top 5 Best Anime convention:
- Anime Central
And there you have it; the best Anime conventions from my own experience.
Which one(s) do you think is best? Let me know in the comments below!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!