In this post, we are talking about my top 5 best convention venues for cosplay events!
In my last post, I wrote about 5 convention venues that I disliked for various reasons. Whether they were located in an inconvenient place, or they were a pain to navigate, I had my reasons for not liking them.
This time, I’ll talk about my 5 best convention venues that are totally awesome in their own ways. If you ever go to any of these conventions, part of the reason why you’ll probably enjoy it is because of the venue. And here they are:
1. Palais des congrès de Montréal (Montreal Comiccon, Otakuthon)
When I first attended Otakuthon, I thought the Palais des Congres was located in a strange area in downtown Montreal. But in reality, it’s in the perfect location!
- It’s right beside Chinatown, with a lot of good and affordable restaurants.
- The Montreal Metro station (Place D’armes) is right beside the convention centre.
- The convention centre is part of Montreal’s Underground City. Although the network is probably more useful in the winter, the underground is also very handy in the summer. Why? It gets hot in Montreal during the summer! So you can wear your bulky cosplay and walk from your hotel to the Palais des Congres without going outside in the heat.
- A few minutes walk from Sainte-Catherine Street, the main shopping district in Montreal and also a popular spot for nightlife.
- A few minutes walk from Old Montreal, a popular tourist district.
So basically this convention centre is located in a perfect spot. You’ll never run out of food options, although I’d suggest venturing out a bit further so you can try out some famous restaurants like Schwartz and La Banquise.
Even if you don’t stay at an official hotel for Otakuthon, there are multiple accommodation options around the convention centre at affordable rates.
The Palais de Congres, a wonderful building for an Anime convention
Enough about the location…how about the building itself? The Palais de Congres does not disappoint! The building has a beautiful interior with coloured windows and gorgeous panel rooms. It’s very big, starting from the bottom of the street level where the entrance is, to the rooftop patio where the cosplay café is held.
You can get a lot of great views from the Palais de Congres, and some amazing cosplay photos because the inside is so nice. I don’t know how to describe it; the inside is large and functional as a convention centre, but also cozy enough to be a hotel interior. Even though it’s a big building, I like the simplistic layout and how easy it is to navigate.
If Otakuthon was located anywhere else, I probably wouldn’t have as good of a time if it wasn’t located at the Palais de Congres. Not only because the location is perfect, but the venue itself is great. Hence why this place is one of my top 5 best convention venues. This is where Otakuthon will continue to shine as one of Canada’s best Anime conventions.
NOTE: I’m basing my experience off of Otakuthon. Although I haven’t attended Montreal Comiccon yet, I’m sure my opinion of the Palais de Congres would be the same; freaking awesome!
This place has a beautiful atrium with an enormous glass façade that makes it so picturesque. Not to mention there’s a famous gazebo that’s insanely popular for photoshoots. If you’re ever going through cosplay photos online, chances are they were taken in this building or in that gazebo.
For convention going, this place is great. The Gaylord is freaking huge! When I attended MAGFest, I noticed the ceilings were very high up and the hallways were open wide. So it feels like you’re in this big grand place.
I also remember the panel rooms being insanely large as well; the video game room for MAGFest was like twice the size of a typical dealer’s room at your typical large convention. Overall, the Gaylord is the perfect setting for big cons like MAGFest and Katsucon.
There’s a lot to see and do on the actual resort as well. There are numerous restaurants, both cheap and expensive. There’s a big ferris wheel you can ride. And recently, an MGM Casino was built and that’s where they held that famous Sclass photoshoot event. National Harbor isn’t perfect and the place doesn’t feel like a true resort in my opinion; it’s a LITTLE bit overrated. However, it’s still a fun place to be for a weekend and the Gaylord is the perfect convention building for it.
3. Blue Mountain Village/Conference Centre (YetiCon)
As soon as you step foot in this place for YetiCon, you know this isn’t going to be your typical convention. Because going to an Anime convention at a ski resort in the summer is hella fun!
Like I mentioned in my YetiCon guide, this place is a blessing for cosplayers doing photoshoots. You have so many great cosplay photo spots like the pond, waterfall and up the mountain. Being able to walk around the village, hike up the mountain or seeing the numerous stars at night is fun on its own. And even if you don’t plan on attending a bunch of panels and activities during the con, you can probably appreciate what the venue has to offer.
The only downside being at a resort; the weather can make or break this convention. When it’s hot and sunny, activities like the pool party and the mountain coaster are perfect. But when it’s raining down at the resort, then pretty much everything shuts down (except for the indoor panels at the conference centre). But regardless whether it rains or shines, it’s hard not to have a good time at YetiCon when Blue Mountain Resort is so beautiful and fun! So I highly recommend.
4. Ontario Science Centre (when Atomic Lollipop was held here)
For those who don’t know, the Ontario Science Centre is a fun and awesome museum in Toronto. The place has a lot of cool exhibits like musical instruments and even an artificial rainforest. I find a lot of museums boring but the OSC is one of my favourite ones I’ve ever been to. So when this crazy convention called Atomic Lollipop held their event here, it felt like a dream come true for me.
The Ontario Science Centre did fit really well with Atomic Lollipop’s alternative and exotic convention vibes and activities. The burlesque show and the fire performers just seemed works surprisingly well in a museum. The outdoor rave and bouncy castle in the museum’s grassy courtyard was such a unique setup I’ve never seen before. They even held a concert in one of the exhibit floors, which was pretty epic! And when you needed a break from the convention, you could check out the numerous exhibits at the Science Centre, which made your convention pass totally worth the money.
Goodbye Atomic Lollipop…
It’s too bad Atomic Lollipop no longer exists. While there has been other cosplay events held at the Ontario Science Centre, it’s done so in a completely different way. The whole building is not being utilized, and that’s totally understandable because it would probably be insanely expensive to book the entire museum. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever get to experience the Ontario Science Centre like we did with Atomic Lollipop. Still, the Science Centre deserves a spot on the top 5 best convention venues.
5. Washington State Convention Center (Sakura-con, PAX West, Emerald City Comic Con)
Last but not least in the top 5 best convention venues: The WSCC!
For a con that’s labeled as the premier Anime convention in the Pacific Northwest, Sakura-con feels right at home at the Washington State Convention Center.
The WSCC is located right in the heart of downtown Seattle, making it convenient for food and numerous accommodations for Sakura-con that are affordable (tip: you can actually stay at a cheap hostel that’s about 10 minutes away from the con).
The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel stops close to the convention center, and it’s only a few minutes away from the station. Not to mention you’re only 10 minutes away from the Pacific Ocean!
As for the building itself, it truly is nice. The building is pretty big and there are multiple entrances into the convention center, so you’ll never have to worry about congestion despite Sakuracon being one of the largest Anime conventions.
There’s also a big courtyard that’s great for photoshoots. A lot of attendees hangout in this area, and they play this interesting hug circle game; you kick a plastic bottle and wherever it points, you hug that person and you switch places. That’s something I’ve never seen at a convention before! There’s an elevated skybridge that goes over the street, which makes for a nice view and even some nice shots!
Overall, the Washington State Convention Center is in an awesome location and the building itself is great, hence why it’s one of my favourites.
These are my top 5 best convention venues…for now!
This list is incomplete because I still have many conventions to visit. So I’m sure my 5 top 5 best venues will change over time. Which ones are your favourite? 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!