Biggest Anime conventions in the U.S.
If you’re like me, you LOVE to attend the biggest and best Anime conventions that the lovely continent of North America has to offer. While I’m from Canada, I have gotten the opportunity to attend many conventions in the United States. And of course, everything is bigger and better in America; Anime conventions are no exception! They are popular for good reason; there are always lots to see and do at these conventions.
But first, let’s answer the question…
What are the biggest Anime conventions in the U.S.?
In terms of the biggest Anime conventions in the U.S., Anime Expo in Los Angeles is by far the largest one with over 100,000+ attendees (in 2019). No other Anime convention even comes close to this number. However, there are many conventions across the country that are just as big and wonderful. Examples include Anime Central in Midwest Chicago, Katsucon in the DC area and Anime Weekend Atlanta in the South.
In this guide, I’ll go over the 15 biggest Anime conventions in the U.S. that you should definitely consider attending. These are some of the most popular events in America as of 2023!
Instead of sorting each Anime convention by size (which may be impossible due to varying attendance numbers), I will sort the convention by the regions in the US: Northeast, Midwest, South and West. This is how the United States officially separates their regions, so I will do the same!
Also, keep in mind that this list only is for Anime conventions; other events such as Comic conventions don’t count. So you won’t be seeing San Diego Comic-Con or Dragon Con on this list, even though they’re just as big, if not bigger than most of these Anime conventions.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Anime conventions in the Northeast United States
The Northeast and East Coast of the U.S. is one of the most populated areas, yet surprisingly there are only a few big Anime conventions in the region. It could be because there are lots of smaller cons in the area, with other big comic cons like New York Comic Con filling the needs for conventions.
Oh well, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any big Anime conventions in Northeast U.S. Let’s take a look:
1. Anime Boston
|Venue location||Hynes Convention Center|
|Number of attendees||29,849 in 2022|
|Next event date||Friday April 7 – Sunday April 9, 2023|
To start off this list, we have Anime Boston. I myself have actually volunteered for this convention, and I can tell you that the organizers are very good at what they do. Anime Boston is well-run and features some of the biggest vendors and guests in the Anime fandom. It’s everything you can ask for, in terms of a big Anime convention. The nice thing is the convention is located conveniently in downtown Boston, so you have a bunch of amenities and restaurants nearby!
2. Anime NYC
|Location||New York City, New York|
|Venue location||Javits Center|
|Number of attendees||55,000 in 2022|
|Next event date||Friday November 17 – Sunday November 19, 2023|
Anime NYC is not only one of the largest Anime conventions in America, but it’s been one of the fastest growing cons as well. Because unlike many other conventions on this list, Anime NYC only started in 2017! That’s right; you could say that Anime NYC branched off from New York Comic Con. After all, there was no large Anime convention in New York City at the time. And with New York being the most populated city in America, it only made sense that Anime NYC has filled that need for a big Anime con in the Big Apple!
I personally haven’t been to Anime NYC, but all my friends have said only great things about the con. If you love Anime and want to see big guests, see the best cosplays and be in the great city of New York, then you got to attend Anime NYC!
|Venue location||Walter E. Washington Convention Center|
|Number of attendees||Over 40,000 in 2022|
|Next event date||Friday July 28 – Sunday July 30, 2023|
Otakon takes places in Washington DC, but is the nation’s capital located in the Northeast or in the South? I decided to put it in the Northeast.
For the longest time, Otakon took place Baltimore, Maryland. But in 2017, the organizers decided to move the convention to Washington DC. They lost some attendance during the transition and because of the pandemic, things were a bit rocky.
But that’s no longer the case, as 40,000+ attendees showed up for Otakon in 2022! That should tell you how well-run and established this big Anime convention is. So if you happen to be in the Washington area, definitely consider attending Otakon.
Anime conventions in the Midwestern United States
The Midwest is an interesting region! While there are many smaller Anime conventions spread out throughout the area, only the biggest ones take place in the northern areas. Which ones? Let’s find out.
4. Anime Central
|Venue location||Donald E. Stephens Convention Center and Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel|
|Number of attendees||More than 32,000 in 2019|
|Next event date||Friday May 19 – Sunday May 21, 2023|
Anime Central takes place in Rosemont, which is a suburb of Chicago that’s right beside the airport (similar to how Anime North in Canada is right beside the airport link). Anime Central (or Acen for short) is definitely my favorite Anime convention of all time for so many reasons!
To start, there’s a lot 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.
|Location||Multiple locations (the main one takes place in Sandusky, Ohio)|
|Venue location||Kalahari Resorts & Conventions|
|Number of attendees||Unknown|
|Next event date||Wednesday May 31 – Sunday June 4, 2023 (ColossalCon Prime)|
ColossalCon is the iconic Anime water park convention you may have heard a lot about. There are 4 different locations now, but the main one (ColossalCon Prime) takes place at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio.
ColossalCon is popular for so many reasons. Being able to cosplay at a waterpark provides a unique experience. And there are many activities to do during the convention weekend, including live entertainment and music.
|Venue location||The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center and The Huntington Place|
|Number of attendees||20,000-23,000 in 2022|
|Next event date||Thursday November 2 – Sunday November 5, 2023|
I feel like Youmacon is underrated, because unless you live in the Midwest, you probably have never heard of this Anime convention. But in fact, it’s one of the largest Anime conventions in the Midwest!
Youmacon is one of the biggest conventions in America, and probably for good reason. The 3-day convention has your typical things to do such as panels, photoshoots, late night dance parties and more.
But what makes Youmacon stand out are the video games. The gaming room is not only large and extensive, but the room also stays open very late. So if you want to play arcade and console games all-day long, then you can definitely do that during Youmacon.
What’s also unique is the convention takes places in 2 different buildings that are relatively far away from each other. But don’t let that discourage you from going; they’re about a 5-10 minute walk from each other, or a train ride away from the People Mover system. Downtown Detroit is surprisingly nice too. I would recommend Youmacon if you’re in the area or just a few hours’ drive away.
Click here to check out my guide for Youmacon!
Anime conventions in the Southern United States
The Southern region of the U.S. has a ton of big Anime conventions. It encompasses an area with many big cities, so that may have to do with it. Let’s see which cons made this list:
|Venue location||Irving Convention Center and Toyota Music Factory|
|Number of attendees||Unknown|
|Next event date||Friday June 2 – Sunday June 4, 2023|
A-Kon is the premier Anime convention in Dallas. It’s been around for a very long time, and being one of the largest Anime conventions in Texas, I’m sure it’s an annual convention that many people in the area attend every year.
I personally have not been to A-Kon, but it seems like the convention does move around a lot. An interesting fact is that A-Kon is one of the longest running Anime conventions, the first one taking place all the way back in 1990. That’s 33 years of Anime conventions, which is a VERY long time!
8. Anime Matsuri
|Venue location||George R. Brown Convention Center|
|Number of attendees||Over 61,000 in 2022 (confirmed by organizers)|
|Next event date||Thursday August 10 – Sunday August 13, 2023|
Another heavyweight Anime convention in Texas, Anime Matsuri takes place in Houston. Unlike A-Kon, Anime Matsuri is somewhat new, only starting in 2007. This is another con I have not been to, so I don’t know too much about it. But I’ve heard many people attend this large convention. And being in Houston, one of the big cities in the state, I’m sure it’s an Anime convention not many people want to miss!
I have confirmed with the Anime Matsuri organizers that their attendance numbers in 2022 was slightly over 61,000, which is a TON of people!
9. San Japan
|Location||San Antonio, Texas|
|Venue location||HBG Convention Center|
|Number of attendees||Over 21,000 in 2022|
|Next event date||Friday September 1 – Sunday September 3, 2023|
The last Texas Anime convention on this list, San Japan takes place in San Antonio, another big city in the Lone Star state. I don’t have much experience or much to share since I’ve never attended. But the fact that over 21,000 attendees have attended this convention, making San Japan another huge Anime convention worth checking out.
10. Anime Weekend Atlanta
|Name||Anime Weekend Atlanta|
|Venue location||Cobb Galleria and Renaissance Waverly Hotel|
|Number of attendees||Unknown|
|Next event date||Thursday October 26 – Sunday October 29, 2023|
This one I’ve been to!
Anime Weekend Atlanta takes place in…you guessed it…Atlanta, Georgia! But the convention doesn’t take place in the heart of downtown Atlanta; the event is held in Cumberland, a suburb of Atlanta.
What’s cool about Anime Weekend Atlanta (or AWA for short) is that the convention is held for 4 days. So you can get your Anime convention fix from Thursday to Sunday! The city of Atlanta plays host to a lot of big conventions, and AWA is definitely one of them.
|Venue location||Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center|
|Number of attendees||Unknown|
|Next event date||Friday February 17 – Sunday February 19, 2023|
Katsucon is one of the most popular Anime conventions in the U.S. This event usually takes place in February at the resort area of National Harbor, Maryland. The resort itself is beautiful, being alongside the Potomac River in the Washington D.C. area.
But by far the biggest attraction is the convention building; The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. You have the famous gazebo that many cosplayers dream of getting their photos taken in. Not only that, the exterior of the building is mostly glass, letting lots of sunlight in, making cosplay photography an amazing thing to do. The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center also features some walkways, artificial greenery and a big fountain!
I’ve been to the National Harbor and the area is truly beautiful.
So not only is Katsucon a great event to take beautiful cosplay photos, the convention has all your Anime convention needs for 3 days. Definitely one of the big conventions in America.
|Venue location||Tampa Convention Center|
|Number of attendees||Over 10,000|
|Next event date||Friday July 14 – Sunday July 16, 2023|
Surprisingly, I don’t hear much about Anime conventions in Florida, other than the famous Holiday Matsuri.
But when it comes to sheer size and attendance numbers, Metrocon takes first place in Tampa! With over 12,000 attendees in 2021, Metrocon is by far the largest Anime convention in the Sunshine State of Florida. And the convention has been around for 20 years now, so Metrocon is definitely a big event in the Tampa area!
Anime conventions in the Western United States
The West Coast of the U.S. features some of the biggest and most famous types of fan conventions, including the ones for Anime. It only makes sense because a lot of the studios and businesses associated with Anime are located in this region.
Let’s see which Anime cons are the biggest in this area:
|Venue location||Seattle Convention Center|
|Number of attendees||Over 23,000 in 2015|
|Next event date||Friday April 7 – Sunday April 9, 2023|
Sakura-Con is the landmark Anime convention that happens in Seattle, Washington. I have attended this event in the past and I had a blast! There is so much to do at Sakura-Con. This Pacific Northwest Anime convention is held at the Seattle Convention Center, right in the heart of the downtown Seattle area. It’s within walking distance of everything, including all the cool tourist attractions like Pike Place Market.
What I liked about attending Sakura-Con is the large amount of hotel lodging options for the convention. I find that the hotel rooms for popular cosplay conventions either sell out quickly, or the hotel prices are insanely expensive. For Sakura-Con, it’s neither; you have plenty of options and the hotel rates are surprisingly lower for a large downtown city like Seattle.
So you’ll probably have a great time at Sakura-Con!
|Location||San Jose, California|
|Venue location||San Jose McEnery Convention Center|
|Number of attendees||Over 34,000 in 2019|
|Next event date||Friday May 26 – Monday May 29, 2023|
FanimeCon is the biggest Anime convention in the San Francisco Bay Area. The event actually takes place in San Jose, which is about an hour away from San Francisco. FanimeCon has been around for a long time, so you can bet there are tons of attendees going to this annual event.
What’s also interesting is that the last day of the con is on a Monday, so you get an extra day in your Anime convention (long) weekend!
15. Anime Expo
|Location||Los Angeles, California|
|Venue location||Los Angeles Convention Center|
|Number of attendees||Over 100,000|
|Next event date||Saturday July 1 – Tuesday July 4, 2023|
Last but definitely not least, we have the legendary Anime Expo in LA, which is by far THE biggest Anime convention in all of North America. When you have the top vendors showing up, along with 100,000+ attendees every year, you’re bound to have the biggest Anime con; it’s not even close.
The convention usually happens on the 4th of July weekend. Everything you could ever want in an Anime convention, you will definitely find at Anime Expo!
To summarize, here are the 15 Biggest Anime conventions in the U.S.:
- Anime Boston
- Anime NYC
- Anime Central
- Anime Matsuri
- San Japan
- Anime Weekend Atlanta
- Anime Expo
And there you have it; the biggest Anime conventions in America! I hope you found this post useful.
Here are some other articles you may find helpful:
- Complete Anime convention guide – everything you need to know
- Canada has some great Anime conventions as well! Check out my guides for Anime North, Otakuthon and YetiCon
- Anime convention packing list
Which Anime conventions on this list do you plan on attending? 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!