Senpai’s Ottawa Comiccon review!

You know, when you think of big comic cons, the first thing that probably comes to mind is either San Diego Comic-Con or Dragon Con. Or if you live in Canada, probably Fan Expo.

But there is also another major comic con in Canada and the event is located in our nation’s capital: Ottawa Comiccon! Yes, not only are we Canadians treated to another awesome comic con, but Ottawa Comiccon is not a small event either. With over 42,000 attendees in 2018, Ottawa Comiccon is one of the largest fan conventions in all of Canada.

How does this event compare to other comic conventions? If you don’t live in Ottawa, should you take the time to attend? That’s what I will try to answer for you today!

In this post, I’ll give you a comprehensive Ottawa Comiccon review. I’ll go over what you need to know about this convention, I’ll be going over the pros and cons about this convention. Overall, Ottawa Comiccon is a large and fun convention that’s definitely worth attending, especially if you live in or near the Nation’s capital.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Disclaimer: My friend was the one who attended the convention and I am simply interpreting his experiences and opinion into this post.

What is Ottawa Comiccon?

While Ottawa Comiccon may not have been around for long as San Diego Comic-Con or Fan Expo Canada has, the event in Ottawa has been a staple for attendees for over a decade now. Starting in 2012, Ottawa Comiccon hit the ground running in the first year with 22,000 attendees off the bat. That’s really impressive, and just goes to show how hungry we are for comic cons. Today, the event has been taking place each year and giving people a reason to dress up in cosplay.

In the past, it seems that Ottawa Comiccon took place normally in the spring. But in recent years, the event takes place near the end of summer in September. I think this is a great move because there aren’t too many big fan conventions happening in September. And in May, you have Anime North and in August, you have Fan Expo. Taking place in September is a good time period.

Ottawa Comiccon takes place at the EY Centre, which is located right next to the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. It’s located nowhere close to the downtown area of Ottawa. But if you’re driving or flying in, then you’ll find it convenient. Pretty similar to Anime North, where that convention is also located far away from downtown Toronto but close to Pearson International Airport.

Okay, let’s talk about the great things about this convention!

Pros

Variety of programming and guests

Ottawa Comiccon has a great variety of programming available during the convention. With a lot of comic cons, the dealer’s room is the main focus of the event, meanwhile the programming sometimes becomes an afterthought. However, with Ottawa Comiccon this is not the case. There are so many things to see and do during the convention weekend, including:

  • Masquerade
  • Panels
  • Burlesque show
  • Autographs
  • Photo ops
  • Improv show
  • Game shows
  • Cosplay meetups

Of course, comic cons always get the best guests and celebrities. The 2023 edition of Ottawa Comiccon included:

  • Billy West (Futurama)
  • Charles Martinet (voice of Mario)
  • Emily Swallow
  • Trailer Park Boys Cast

As you can see, there is so much to do at Ottawa Comiccon. It’s like going to an Anime convention, where the programming and activities are incredibly diverse. That is a real delight to see, as there will probably be something for you to enjoy at this convention.

Not as jam-packed

If you’ve ever been to a large comic con, you know how busy and congested it can get. Sometimes you’re literally standing shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow attendees, packed like sardines. It can feel like going from Point A to Point B is an impossible task. Congested fan conventions is definitely not a pleasant experience for many attendees.

Fortunately, Ottawa Comiccon is not like this. While the EY Centre may be large and the amount of the attendees is pretty big, it never feels like you’re jam-packed during the event. You have plenty of room to move around and do your things. You could move through without too much issues and the smaller building felt familiar after a while. And you’re able to really talk to and connect with people. Also, taking pictures wasn’t too much of an issue as you could easily move to the side, instead of at a large con having the trouble of navigating through a sea of people and hope you’re not impeding traffic flow.

It’s like a perfect middle ground; busy enough to be interested and buzzing but not so busy where you it feels stressful or congested.

Hotels are easy to get

I think we can all agree that hotel lotteries for Anime/Comic cons suck. Having to worry about getting a hotel room for a convention is always a pain. But fortunately with Ottawa Comiccon, despite being only two hotels, they are easy to book and reserve.

You have two fairly sizeable hotels across the street from the con (Fairfield Inn & Hilton Garden Inn). You can get a group with Fairfield and free breakfast is offered. If you miss the group rate, not to worry – they still had room availability even the days leading up to the con. I believe parking is free for guests and you can walk across the street (but you have to navigate a hill, or a long detour around the hill and through the large parking lot of the convention centre).

Both hotels are about a 10 minute walk from the convention centre.

Cons

Location

For some people, the location of Ottawa Comiccon is like being in the middle of nowhere.

As mentioned previously, the convention centre is located very far away from downtown Ottawa and beside the main airport of the city. While the EY Centre is great for those who are flying in or driving, it’s not so great for those who use public transit. It’s a loooong bus ride from downtown to reach the EY Centre.

In terms of amenities, there are food trucks available during the con. But after the con, there isn’t much in terms of food options, shops for essentials or anything else really, unless you go into town about 30 mins away, eat at the restaurant in the lobby of Hilton Garden Inn (their food was very average bar food at above average prices), or order UberEATS.

Fortunately, the city of Ottawa is opening a new train line, with a station right beside the EY Centre (planned to run about 10-15 mins). So that should make reaching the convention from downtown much easier and more convenient in the future.

Lack of photoshoot opportunities

Being a convention that’s located in a remote area of the city, you won’t get too many photoshoot opportunities. So if you’re a cosplayer or photographer looking to get some great cosplay photos, then Ottawa Comiccon won’t be the best place to do so. Just an area with the Ottawa Comiccon background, some grassy areas around the perimeter of parking lot and some hills across the street towards the hotel.

Also you should keep in mind; as of this writing, you cannot setup a cosplay photoshoot with large equipment such as tripods or backdrops on the convention grounds due to limited space (click to read the policy from Ottawa Comiccon on cosplay photography). So if you want to setup an elaborate cosplay shoot, you’ll have to do so outside of the convention.

Overall

It’s a pretty small venue, if you prefer a small and slower pace con – Ottawa Comiccon is the one for you. It’s pretty out of the way and not very convenient, but those that made it are truly passionate. There’s a good gathering of people, costumes and events without feeling overwhelmed by crowds.

There aren’t as many shows/events compared to a larger con, but I felt there was more investment into the fewer productions. There was a Friday evening burlesque show and the performances blew me away. And there was still plenty of seating and we didn’t have to fill every single spot.

I’m looking forward to 2024 – 8/10.

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