Which day of an Anime convention should you attend?

Are you contemplating whether you should book off an entire weekend for a convention? Or to only come for 1 day? Whether you’re a con veteran or someone who doesn’t want to commit a whole weekend, you’re more than likely to come to this dilemma at some point.

Most of us here are either in school or working a full-time job. For those in the latter category, you know how hard it is to get time off work; your boss will complain that they “need” you on that particular weekend, or how your coworker with more seniority booked the same weekend off.

So while we’d like to attend a convention for the whole weekend, sometimes it’s not possible or even worth it. Maybe you’re kind of bored of the convention, you but still want to experience a day or two and hang with friends. Maybe you don’t want to burn half of your vacation days on just one convention. Whatever the reason, this is what we will talk about today: If you can only attend one day of a convention, which day should you attend?

Which day of an Anime convention should you attend?

If you’re looking to attend an Anime convention for only 1 day, Saturday is the most popular day because it’s usually the longest day with the most programming and activities available. However, Friday and Sunday can be better options depending on what you’re looking. Friday is the first and most exciting to be at the convention, meanwhile Sunday is the most laidback and the best day to buy stuff in the dealer’s room.

In this post, I’ll answer the question of which day of an Anime convention should you attend. I’ll go over each day and what they have to offer, as well as why they may not be the best day for you.

NOTE: Although technically there is a Day Zero, I won’t include it because it’s not really a convention day. Also, I’m only talking about Anime conventions. While comic conventions are similar, many follow a different format. So this post may not apply to them very well.

Anyways, let’s get started!

Attending a convention only on Friday

Friday’s have the best vibe of the weekend!

I honestly think that Friday is underrated. Why? Because it’s the first day of the con and everyone is happy and excited to be there. That alone makes the vibe and atmosphere a lot more fun and exciting to be around. No one is in a rush, so Friday is a really nice day to be at the convention.

No crowded trade show type of feeling; just a bunch of weebs excited and ready to have a good time for the weekend! A good day to socialize and even make new friends. The programming is very good on Fridays. For example, Anime North has Nominoichi (Japanese flea market) and the Skit Contest on Friday and they’re both very popular at AN.

Usually the dance/rave takes place on Friday (and Saturday as well). So you get the same quality programming as you would on Saturday.

Drawbacks of Friday

While Friday is definitely a wonderful day to attend, there are some drawbacks. You’ll have to pick up your badge and check into your hotel if you’re staying overnight. Because Friday is the first day of the convention, the lineups for both of these things can be insanely long. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable unless you show up on Thursday to pick up your badge or check-in a day earlier at the hotel.

Many conventions don’t start until 4 or 5 p.m. on Friday, so you could argue that you are not getting your money’s worth if you show up on Friday. Most of your Friday at the convention is lost if you happen to arrive late and need to lineup for these things. So whether you live close or you have to drive to the con, get there as early as you can!

While a lot of big and popular activities happen on Friday, Saturday is still king when it comes to the biggest events. For instance if you’re looking to compete in the Masquerade, then you shouldn’t pick Friday since the Masquerade is almost always on Saturday. In terms of cosplay, you’ll see some decent costumes, but not as good as Saturday. So if you’re a photographer, this may not be the best day to attend. It’s still a better cosplay day than Sunday though.

Pros of Friday

  • First day of convention means the crowd and atmosphere is excited and ready to have fun
  • Great programming and activities that run very late/all night, almost as good as Saturday
  • Good if you’re interested in the con but you don’t want to dedicate a whole weekend

Cons of Friday

  • Because it’s the first day, the lineups for badge pickup and hotel check-in will be long, so you’ll be spending some of your Friday away from doing stuff at the convention
  • Many cons start around 4-5 pm on Fridays so you might feel you’re not getting your money’s worth, especially if you show up later in the evening
  • Not the best day for cosplay photography

Attending a convention only on Saturday

My cosplay crew at Otakuthon :)
We were barely able to take this photo at Otakuthon cause it was so busy on Saturday!

Ah Saturday, the most popular day for con goers to attend. And for good reason too. The biggest and most featured programming takes place on Saturday including the Masquerade, AMV contests, group photoshoots, the dance/rave and much more.

While Friday and Sunday may not have programming for the entire day, Saturday you’re guaranteed to have activities from early in the morning to all the way to late in the evening…even all night at some Anime conventions.

I’ve been to a few cons where programming started first thing at 8:00 A.M. and ended very late around 3-4 AM the next day. So you’re literally getting an entire day of things to see and do…if you have the energy for that!

Saturday is the day where cosplayers bring out their best costume they’ve been spending months working on. So whether you’re a casual attendee snapping some quick photos or a hallway cosplay photographer, Saturday is absolutely the best day to see some freaking awesome cosplays. Bring a good camera with you!

Drawbacks of Saturday

You might think with all the best programming and amazing cosplays on Saturday, it’s the perfect day to attend? Not exactly. Unfortunately some things really suck on this day, not only for Saturday-only attendees but for full weekend congoers as well. Since it’s the most popular day, it’s also the most crowded. The lineups for panels and guests will be long. The dealer’s room is going to be insanely packed.

Expect to wait in long lines with other congoers nearby restaurants and fast food joints. Even ordering pizza on the phone will take a while, because all the other people at the hotel are ordering as well. Even getting back to your hotel room can be long. Yes, there’s a such thing as a hotel elevator line at Anime conventions, like at Youmacon.

For cosplay photographers, Saturday is a great day for getting clients but might not be easy to find a shoot location. Hell, you know that spot during the convention you planned to do a cosplay photoshoot? Well, somebody else probably thought the same thing and will shoot there at the same time you will. Good luck trying to get the Gazebo at Katsucon on Saturday. Especially if the convention building is not aesthetically pleasing, there might be only 1 or 2 spots that are decent to shoot. Maybe that’s why despite cons being the best place to shoot, cosplayers/photographers want to shoot elsewhere.

For me personally, I’m not a big fan of the atmosphere on Saturdays of a convention. It has a chaotic, fast-paced vibe because of the amount of people at the con. Everybody’s trying to see and do things, so stress levels are higher. And with tons of people around, there’s bound to be someone that will piss off a cosplayer at some point. That’s why I don’t find it as fun as Friday.

Since Saturday has the most programming/activities, it’s also the most expensive to buy a single badge. But it’s usually not that much more, about $10-$15 more.

If you’re coming very early on Saturday and plan to stay late, I recommend getting a hotel not only for a place to crash for the night, but somewhere to rest during the middle of the day; you’ll likely be tired at some point. I find myself needing to take a break in the hotel or taking a small nap during the middle of the day. The convention can be very crowded and finding a nice comfortable spot to sit can be difficult.

Pros of Saturday

  • Main programming and activities happen on Saturday and it starts very early to very late/all night
  • Best day for cosplay photography; everyone wears their best cosplay on Saturday
  • Full day of activities, so you’ll never run out of things to do

Cons of Saturday

  • The most crowded day of the three, which mean you’ll be lining up for EVERYTHING (e.g. panels, video game arcade, restaurants nearby)
  • Most expensive day for single-day badges
  • Atmosphere is more chaotic because there are more people at the con and everyone is running around trying to get somewhere (e.g. dealer’s room, attend a photoshoot, lineup for something)

Attending a convention only on Sunday

Most attendees on Sundays are relaxing and looking to snag some good discounts in the dealer’s room!

In terms of which day of an anime convention should you attend, Sunday is a good option for more casual congoers because it’s the complete opposite of Saturday.

Since a lot of attendees from Friday and Saturday tend to skip out on Sunday, you’ll find it far less crowded, especially at smaller conventions. You’ll be able to try out the video games without waiting long. You can walk in the dealer’s room and not trample on anybody. The congoers will be tired/partied out from Saturday, and they only want to walk around the convention and enjoy it before it ends.

So this means the atmosphere is much more relaxed and laid back. Speaking of the dealer’s room, you’ll find the best offers in the dealer’s room because the merchants are trying to get rid of their stuff (i.e. they can’t carry everything back so they have more incentive to sell more of their merchandise).

Best of all, the price for a badge on Sunday is cheaper than Friday or Saturday. So if you’re a casual normie or just want to pass by the convention for a short time, then Sunday is the perfect day to attend.

Drawbacks of Sunday

However, Sunday is not a good choice if you’re into seeing top-tier cosplays. Many cosplayers tend to wear their casual costumes on Sunday. Some don’t wear a costume at all. Again, they’re either too tired to put on a costume or they rather walk around the convention in comfortable normal clothing. So if you’re a photographer who likes taking hallway shots of great cosplays, Sunday is NOT the day to do it! Don’t get me wrong; there will be cosplayers and they’re all good. But you’ll see better costumes on Saturday than you would on Sunday.

The convention always ends early on Sundays, usually around 5 or 6 pm (even as early 3-4 pm at one convention I went to). So if you come in the middle of the afternoon, then you won’t really get much time to hang around the con and you’ll just end up wasting your money on a Sunday badge. The programming, activities and panels also tend to be lackluster compared to Friday or Saturday. Don’t expect to attend any big panels or events on Sunday.

In reality, everyone is just chilling and getting ready to pack and wrap things up. So you should come with the mindset that you’re here to casually hangout and not do much convention activity on Sunday. Or to snag some deals in the dealer’s room!

Pros of Sunday

  • Best day to buy merchandise in the dealer’s room, many discounts
  • Single-day passes is cheapest on Sunday
  • Relaxed atmosphere; everyone is settled down from the past two days
  • Least crowded day of the weekend; you’ll have plenty of space in the video game/tabletop/dealer’s room

Cons of Sunday

  • Worst day to take photos of cosplay; many either don’t cosplay at all or only wear casual outfits on Sunday
  • Programming and activities aren’t as fun or exciting on Sunday, compared to Friday or Sunday
  • Convention ends early on Sunday, so you need to get there early to maximize your Sunday badge

Every day at a convention has something to offer

Whichever day you choose, you'll have fun either way.
Whichever day you choose, you’ll have fun either way.

In conclusion, each day has its pros and cons. And while most people will just show up on Saturday, not everyone wants to deal with the huge crowds and lineup. So don’t count out Friday or Sunday, they can just as good if not better, depending on your references.

In terms of which day of an anime convention should you attend, whether you’re trying to save your vacation days, or rather not dedicate an entire weekend to a convention, you can never go wrong with attending just 1 day. Don’t forget that guests and celebrities might only show up for one day out of the convention, so be sure to check when they’re scheduled to appear.

I hope this post answers which day of an anime convention should you attend FOR YOU.

Which day at the convention is your favourite day to attend? Friday? Saturday? Sunday? Let me know by commenting below!


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