How do you find the best cosplay events for you?
Maybe you’re bored of attending the same Anime or comic conventions near you. Or you see so many photos of cosplayers having so much fun at conventions!…outside of your hometown. I get it. I was in your shoes at one point. As much as I enjoyed attending Anime North and Fan Expo in Toronto every year, I wanted more. I wanted to see and attend more conventions. Because I certainly knew there are new experiences to be had outside of my city.
If you’re in the same boat fishing in the same hole…then read on! This post is for you.
How to find the best cosplay events for you
With a bunch of conventions and smaller events happening throughout the year, it can be hard to choose which cosplay events to attend. There are a lot of things you should consider before deciding on which cons you should go to, including: how much you’re willing to budget, how far you’re willing to travel, the type of convention atmosphere and the time of the year.
In this post, I’ll go various tips on how to find the best cosplay events for you. I myself have lots of experience attending different cosplay Anime and comic con conventions around the world.
I’ve been to cons in my own backyard in Canada. And even though I’m not from the United States, I’ve been to many cons down in America such as MAGFest and Anime Boston. So I can give you firsthand advice and knowledge on how to pick the right conventions for YOU.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
1. Find a city or destination that you want to visit anyway (my favorite on how to find the best cosplay events for you)
Out of all the ways on how to find the best cosplay events for you, this is my personal favorite one. I often attend Anime and Comic conventions simply because I was planning to visit that destination anyway. For me, I love to travel, and I like combining both my passions together – cosplay and traveling. Why not do both at the same time? You save money that way!
So if you’re from North America or Europe, plan out which cities and places you’d want to visit. And try to visit during the weekend of an Anime or Comic convention! That way, you can do some sightseeing before or after the convention.
Here are some examples of me going to conventions in places I’d want to visit anyway:
- Anime Central and Chicago. Let me tell you; Chicago is MY favorite city in the United States to visit! I love the city so much, it’s beautiful and the people there are great. And we’re blessed to have one of the best Anime conventions, Anime Central, that also takes place in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont. I always look forward to visiting Chicago, and I do during Anime Central. If you want to read why Anime Central is one of the best cons out there, click here to to read my review about it.
- Otakuthon and Montreal. Having two great things, Montreal and Otakuthon, at the same time is just simply too amazing to pass. Not only is Otakuthon the best Anime convention in Canada in my opinion (read why here), Montreal is also a wonderful city with lots to do and great food (e.g. poutine!). Plus for me, I don’t live too far from Montreal, so it’s a win-win for me.
- Sakura-con and Seattle. I actually live really far from Seattle and the West Coast of North America in general. But it worked out for me at the time. I have family in Vancouver, Canada which is only a few hours away from Seattle. So I aligned my Vancouver and Seattle trip to coincide with Sakura-Con. It was great as it was my first Anime convention on the other side of the contintent!
But you don’t have to always attend a convention that’s convenient for you. Which leads me to my next point…
2. Is the convention unique in its own way?
While Anime and Comic conventions are wonderful events, at some point you’ll realize a lot of the stuff is the same. Things such as the Masquerade, various panels, dealer’s room…you get a similar experience at many cons. I’m not afraid to admit that it can get boring.
This is why I always appreciate conventions that are unique in their own way. If a convention has something special to it, I will definitely try to attend, even if the location isn’t as convenient. Because after all, everyone loves a unique experience.
Here are some conventions that I found have unique experiences:
- YetiCon. I rave about YetiCon on this website a lot, and for good reason! What other Anime convention takes place at an actual ski resort and allows you to take part in said activities at resort…for FREE? Not only that, you get some wonderful cosplay photoshoot opportunities being up there at Blue Mountain (where YetiCon takes place). YetiCon is a true gem that we Canadians truly cherish! If you want to learn more about YetiCon, click here to read my guide.
- MAGFest. So I heard about MAGFest on the Internet, how it was a convention exclusively for video gaming and how amazing the attendees are at the con. So I had to save up money to attend at least once. And I did! It was totally worth the trip down to DC/Maryland, even though I never had any strong desire to visit Washington DC. But nevertheless, MAGFest was one of my favorite cons I ever attended, and I enjoyed that whole resort. Totally a unique experience. Where else do you get a video game room the size of 2-3 dealer’s rooms? Or have actual video game composers at a convention? MAGFest is truly unique.
- Holiday Matsuri. In December, it’s super cold where I live and there are hardly any conventions during that time of the year. So I was happy to learn there was a holiday-themed convention in Florida in December! It’s called Holiday Matsuri. So I decided to save up for HolMat and to this day, one of my favorite trips of all time! Not only did I get to enjoy warm weather away from home, I got to experience a beautiful convention. Definitely a great getaway.
3. Anime convention or Comic convention?
One mistake I notice people make is thinking a Comic con convention will be the same as an Anime convention. But in fact, there are a lot of differences between the two. Going to San Diego Comic-Con is not going to be the same as going to Katsucon. So if you’re picking a convention to attend, you should know whether you prefer Anime cons, or Comic cons.
Here are the main differences between them:
- It’s more about the showroom floor. The main attraction of Comic Con is what’s happening in the big hallway. It’s where all the vendors, celebrities, sponsors and all the action that’s taking place.
- Much larger vendor/dealer room. Because of the focus on the showroom floor, the dealer’s room is MASSIVE. It could take you hours to get through and see everything inside this area
- Bigger name guests. Comic cons are big-budget, so you’ll be seeing big celebrities that are part of television, the comic book industry, video game industry and more. At New York Comic Con (https://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/en-us/guests.html), they had huge celebrities like John Cena, George Takei, Cowbutt Crunchies Cosplay, and David Harbour. So if you want to attend a convention to meet some big name starrs, Comic cons are the ones you should attend.
- Less Anime-focused. This might seem obvious to us who’ve been attending cons for a long time. But if you’re an Anime fan looking for that Otaku experience, you may be out of luck. While some Comic cons do have Anime-related events and guests, comic cons is all about the comic book stuff first.
- More catered towards normies. In my opinion, the events and panels that happen at comic cons appeal more to the normies.
- Shorter hours. Unlike Anime conventions that stay open way later (in many cases, 24 hours until Sunday), Comic Cons tend to end pretty early, around 8-9 pm the latest. I think it has to do with convention centers being insanely expensive to rent out, so event organizers don’t want to keep the building open if there aren’t many attendees late at night.
- Generally costs much more. A weekend pass for a large Comic Con can go well over $100+ USD. And while some large Anime conventions can be close to that badge, at a Comic Con you’ll also need to factor in the costs of paying for celebrity appearances and autographs. So you could be spending hundreds of dollars easily.
What about Anime cons?
- More things to do. While Comic Cons have enough things to keep you occupied (like the big showroom floor), at an Anime convention you’ll have waaay too many things to do! You can have a Masquerade, an interesting panel you want to attend, a cosplay photoshoot of a series you love, and Q&A of a guest..all happening at the same time! Put simply, at a large Anime convention, you’ll never run out of things to do!
- Less big name guests (at least to normies). Anime conventions will get some large name voice actors from an Anime or video game. Or an awesome Japanese guests. Or big name cosplayers. But if you’re a normie, these guests probably won’t appeal to you as much as the guests that would show up at a Comic Con.
- Much longer hours. Anime conventions tend to open really early and stay open SUPER late and in most cases, 24 hours on the Friday and Saturday. I remember at Anime Central, there were tons of attendees still partying and hanging out at 3:30 AM! Me and my friend were so tired, but the congoers there were still going at it! It’s pretty awesome if you’re a night owl.
- Night time activities. Going on from the previous point, being open late means more late-night activities, such as: the rave/dance party, 18+ panels, video game rooms (best time to go with little to no crowds), and video rooms showing some NWSW Anime wink wink.
- Dealer’s room: Otaku paradise. This is where the wallet of a Weeb gets emptied. Anime, wallpapers, figurines, video games, Japanese-related products. If you’re a Weeb or Otaku, you will find something you love at an Anime convention dealer room.
Which one is better? I say it depends on what you’re looking for. If you want big name guests and want to buy more stuff…or you’re more into comic book fandom, then Comic cons are more suited for you. But while Anime conventions generally have less guests and slightly fewer vendors, they offer far more activities, social interaction and longer hours. Generally, you would only spend the day at a Comic Con. But at Anime convention, you can spend the entire weekend there and still not see or do everything.
It’s no secret that I prefer Anime cons over comic cons for these reasons! But to each their own. You may prefer the big showrooms and celebrities of Comic Cons over the Weeb activities at Anime cons!
4. Search on social media for photos/videos of a convention you’re interested in
If you have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (or all 3 preferably), then this is a great way on how to find the best cosplay events for you. It’s one thing to find photos and info on the official website of a convention. But it’s a LOT more useful to see what the attendees have to say and show for the convention. On social media, you can a lot of useful information about a convention you’re interested in.
Things such as:
- What type of atmosphere the convention has (e.g. is it a party con or more of an industry con?)
- Whether people had a good time at the convention (e.g. are people complaining a lot about the convention? Or talking about how much fun they had?)
- How big or small the convention is (e.g. is the convention packed like sardines, or is it smaller, more laid-back con)?
Deciding to book a weekend for a convention can definitely be a big time and money commitment! So it helps to look at social media to get a better intuition on whether you’d like the cosplay event or not.
5. Money and yourself come first
Before you decide to pick any cosplay event, you must know that your own well-being and finances come first! While it would be nice to take a flight across to California to Anime Expo, that trip alone will cost a lot of money. If you don’t have a lot of money begin with, don’t even think about doing it until you’ve saved enough money to do so. Don’t worry though; I made an entire guide on how to afford cosplaying (and going to convention in general. Click here if you want to read it.
Using myself as an example, I’ve been wanting to attend Dragon Con for the longest time. But because of the steep prices and nonrefundable hotel room deposits, I haven’t been able to commit to a year where I can go. So it happens to the best of us.
So in short, putting food on the table and being able to pay your bills is far more important. I’ve seen people who’ve neglected their own lives in order to attend expensive conventions. Please do NOT do this! Take care of yourself first. 🙂 So if you can only afford conventions in your local area, that’s fine for now. You can always save up for a con outside anytime.
To summarize, here are the 5 best ways on how to find the best cosplay events for you:
- Find a city or destination that you want to visit anyway
- Is the convention unique in its own way?
- Anime convention or Comic convention?
- Search on social media for photos/videos of a convention you’re interested in
- Money and yourself come first
And there you have it; 5 ways on how to find the best cosplay events for you! I hope you found this post useful. 🙂
Which conventions do you want to attend? Let me know in the comments!
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!