How to host a cosplay event!
It’s September and the convention season has just ended for you. You have to wait until Spring of the following year for the next Anime or comic convention…what a long time to be waiting! While it’s good in some ways (you get to save your money for new and future cosplays), in other ways you’re just craving for another cosplay event to happen in between!
How to host a cosplay event
Well, what if I told you that you can make your own small cosplay event? I know that might sound crazy, but it’s really not that hard! All it takes is a little planning and knowing a few things about organizing events, and you’ll be holding cosplay gatherings that are fun and warm. The nice thing about small cosplay events is that they’re more casual, and it’s easier to meet and socialize with others when you’re not running around a big convention centre.
So if that sounds like up your alley, then this post is for you!
In this article, I’ll go through 10 tips on how to host a cosplay event. At the end of the post, you’ll easily be able to run your cosplay events whenever you like!
To be honest, most of these tips aren’t even cosplay-related; they’re mostly about being an event organizer in general.
Senpai’s experience as a cosplay event organizer
You may not know, but I’ve had a lot of experience organizing small meetups and get-togethers. I ran the Cosplay Hangout Group for a long time, Not just with cosplay events, but with regular normie events such as on Meetup. I’ve been hosting events over 10 years and got tons of experience. I know what it’s like to host all sorts of events, and the little nuances that come with socializing with others that attend your event. While it can be mentally draining to attend to all the things involved with organizing a cosplay event (especially with cosplay beach parties in hot weather!), at the end of the day it always feel fulfilling to do an event.
When you see people having a good time and putting smiles on people’s faces, it’s truly worth it. In essence, people need social interaction and when you provide people with this need, not only do you make people feel good, it makes you feel good as well! If you want to learn why it’s so fulfilling, click here to read about it.
That’s why your Senpai has been hosting events for a long time. One of my events even made it on the front page of the Toronto Star! And now I want to share that experience with you, in this post. Let’s get started!
1. Find a place to host your cosplay event
The first thing you got to do is find a place to hold your cosplay event or gathering. Now you don’t need to rent out a large convention center, as that would easily cost you tons of money you probably don’t have. At the same time, you don’t want to randomly meet in the middle of nowhere, as you cannot guarantee that same spot will be available when it’s time to hold an event there.
Here are a few recommendations for places where you can hold events, based on my experience holding events in Toronto:
- City park. By far the easiest place to hold a cosplay gathering! Parks are large, beautiful and easily accessible to most people. You can get great cosplay photos in a park and do a lot of fun activities there (more on this later). One thing you do need to check though, is if you need a permit to hold a social gathering in a park. If you expect a large amount of attendees at your event, then you may need to book a permit to secure a spot in the park. Each city has their own different rules when it comes to social gatherings in a park, so be sure to double-check in your area. I know in my city, I needed a permit to hold cosplay events in Toronto parks. So I would purchase them before holding an event to ensure I’m complying with the rules.
- At a bar or lounge. This is one of my favorite places to hold a cosplay gathering! If you have a good relationship with the bar or lounge owner, you can negotiate and make your own rules instead of having to comply with others. And unlike holding an event at a park, you don’t have to worry about the weather as the venue is indoors!
- At a restaurant/cafe. This one is the most simplest. Just make a table reservation at a restaurant or cafe, and you’re good to go. Only problem is that it’s less attractive to attendees. People don’t want to be “trapped” at a table if they feel uncomfortable at a restaurant. And it’s hard for others to mingle because they’re stuck sitting in a certain seat.
As you can see, there are many options to choose from. You don’t need to be holding another Anime Expo to get cosplayers together!
2. Location is important!
Okay, after you decided what type of cosplay event you want to do (park gathering, indoor event, etc), you need to pick a good location! You might have good intentions hosting a cosplay event but no one is going to attend if it’s located in the middle of nowhere. Or the area is difficult to get to. Therefore, you want your cosplay event to be in a location where:
- It’s easy to reach the place by public transit (e.g. right beside a subway station)
- In the city center of your area, or at least in the most-populated city in your area
- Preferably also car-friendly (e.g. with parking or close to a highway)
So with my cosplay events, I noticed more people would attend if my events were close to a subway station in Toronto. Even though my favorite venue was located in the west end, a lot less people would attend when I hosted there. Because it wasn’t located in the downtown area. So location can definitely make a huge difference in attendance numbers!
3. Be sure to follow all the rules and regulations
It goes without saying, but when you’re hosting a cosplay event, you need to follow ALL rules and regulations. No shortcuts or anything that would be considered against city bylaws. While yes, you might get away with some rules, you don’t want to put yourself in liability or at risk of being in trouble. Some of these rules include: having a permit or permission to hold a cosplay gathering, not going over the capacity of a venue, not playing loud music at a park, etc.
I know this may sound intimidating, and for me at first, it definitely was! I was so worried about getting in trouble not only for me, but if others at the event did something. But once you hold a few events, you get used to it and can spot out any trouble makers. And at least in my experience, many people who show up at your event are good people and will follow the rules you set out for them.
If you want to get your feet wet in terms of hosting cosplay events without worrying about enforcing rules, then try out a simple gathering at a cafe or restaurant, where you need not to worry about these things.
4. Arrive early for your event
When you attend an Anime convention, you have the luxury of attending the con whenever you want. But when you’re the one hosting an event, you don’t have that luxury! In fact, I say you need to arrive early to your event on the day of. Not only will arriving early allow to setup things for the event before your attendees show up, but you can also make sure things are okay and sort them out before it’s time to start. For example, at one of my events, the usual place where I was supposed to meet up…it was closed! Fortunately, I got to the location early, so I was able to adjust and let my attendees know in advance to meet up at a different spot, and it worked out!
I’ll be honest; punctuality isn’t my greatest strength! And there were times where I arrived late to my own event. Not only was it embarrassing, but it also made things stressful when I had to quickly set things up when my attendees were already there. So that’s why I want to emphasize to get to your venue early, so you don’t have to worry about these things.
5. Talk to EVERYONE at the event
This is an “advanced” Senpai event organizer tactic that I’m sharing with you. 🙂 Essentially, I want you to talk to EVERYONE that attends your event! Yes, I know it’s much easier to talk to your friends that came to your cosplay gathering. Or talking to the more extroverted attendees at your venue. Or to the cute girl or cute guy that decided to show up for your event. You can, but you must also talk to the people who are quieter, and especially to the ones who have no one to talk to. Or for the lack of a better word, the people who look like “losers” who attends your event (excuse my French!).
Listen, it’s your job as an event organizer to make everyone feel warm and welcome at your event.
So make it a priority to ensure that you get a chance to talk to everyone, and they’re feeling good and having fun at your event. Especially to the ones who are quieter and more shy; they took the effort to get out of their shell and show up to your cosplay gathering. REWARD them by giving them an opportunity to socialize with you and with others at the event. Yes, there will be some weirdos who you never want to talk to again, but you’ll find out shortly. As long as they’re not doing anything to bother others, then they’re fine. And if they are, you can kick them out of the event (I’ve only had to do this very rarely).
In any case, if you make people feel good and they’re having fun at your event, they will reward you back by being loyal attendees for future events. They’ll be the ones who will keep paying to go to your events, and promoting it to their other friends. 🙂
To summarize, here are the 5 tips on how to host a cosplay event:
- Find a place to hold your cosplay event
- Location is important!
- Be sure to follow all the rules and regulations
- Arrive early for your event
- Talk to EVERYONE at the event
And there you have it; 5 tips on how to host a cosplay event!
I have many, many more tips I can share as a Senpai-level cosplay event organizer. If you’d like me to do more of these kinds of posts, 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!