I hear my Canadian friends complain all the time that we don’t have the best cities for Anime conventions.

Why don’t we ever get any good conventions up here in Canada?!”

“Only the U.S. gets all the good stuff! We get nothing!

And I think to myself, “That’s not entirely true.” There are lots of good conventions here, at least in the Toronto area. (And yes, Toronto is one of the best cities for Anime conventions).

I think what they really mean is that we don’t get as many large conventions like the U.S. does; that statement is actually true. Off the top of my head, there are only 3 big conventions in Canada: Anime North, Fan Expo and Otakuthon. The U.S. on the other hand has TONS of large conventions across the country, even though Canada is geographically larger!

So I thought it would be interesting to see which North American cities get the most and biggest conventions. I refer to the awesome website, www.Animecons.com for much of this information.

Let’s take a look at the best cities for Anime conventions:

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

1. Los Angeles – Because I don’t live in Los Angeles, I am uncertain if L.A. or SoCal in general has a lot of small or mid-sized conventions. But one thing I do know now – they sure as hell get tons of BIG conventions throughout the year! Such as:

  • Anime Expo (the largest Anime convention in North America by far, with over 100,000+ attendees)
  • Blizzcon (Blizzard’s annual convention in Anaheim. Tickets are expensive and insanely difficult to obtain: $199 each!)
  • Electronic Entertainment Expo (huge video game industry event where publishers and developers showcase their upcoming games. Insanely popular and also expensive/difficult to get in)
  • San Diego Comic-Con (the original Comic-con, this one is definitely the largest one of them all, with over 130,000+ attendees in 2017. Big name guests always attend this convention)
  • Vidcon (I’ve never heard of this, but with 26,000+ attendees in 2017, I’m sure it’s a notable one as well)
  • Wondercon (also ran by the same organizers of San Diego Comic-Con, with 60,000+ attendees in 2016)

So if 6 notably large fan conventions aren’t enough for you, I don’t know what is. Not to mention there’s probably other smaller conventions happening around Los Angeles throughout the year as well. Therefore, if you’re in LA, you have it good for conventions. And to me, it’s one of the best cities for Anime conventions.

2. Houston – The state of Texas is nicely designed, so that the four largest cities in the state are relatively close together. Those cities are: Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin. However, I chose Houston because it’s the largest one. But it doesn’t matter because they’re only a 2-4 hour drive away from each other. This means if you happen to live in any of these Texas cities, you get access to a wide variety of amazing conventions, including: A-Kon in Dallas (3rd largest Anime convention in North America), Ikkicon in Austin, Anime Matsuri in Houston (NOTE: with all the controversy surrounding Anime Matsuri this year, maybe not), San Japan in San Antonio, and probably more if you include the smaller ones as well. There’s also Rooster Teeth’s RTX in Austin (the guys who created Red vs. Blue and RWBY), and the famous Comicpalooza in Houston as well.

If all these big-name conventions aren’t enough for you, here’s a big list of Texan conventions you can mark down on your calendars: http://animecons.com/events/state.shtml/TX002017017

So yeah, Texas is awesome for con-attending if you live in Houston (or any big city in Texas). And one of the best cities for Anime conventions.

3. New York City – New York City is another great area if you’re looking for big conventions. In NYC proper, you have New York Comic Con, which is home to over 180,000 attendees in 2016! Then you have Anime NYC, which in the first year had over 20,000 people! I’m sure there are also lots of good mid-sized conventions around the Tri-State/New York area.

But most importantly in my opinion, New York City is the epicentre of the Northeast United States area (also known as BosWash). If you live in the NYC area, you can go north or south for more conventions; you have Boston just 3 hours away and Washington DC in the south only 4 hours away. Anime Boston is pretty awesome from my experience. And then you have PAX East – a HUGE gaming convention in Boston as well!

What do you get in the DC area? Katsucon. MAGFest. Otakon. I don’t need to say more. NY is one of the best cities for Anime conventions!

If you live around or near NYC, you are BLESSED with the amount of great conventions around you. I haven’t even included other states nearby like New Jersey and the smaller ones in the North East. You’ll never run out of conventions to attend if you’re located in New York.

4. Atlanta – When it comes to the best cities for Anime conventions, this was the first city off the top of my head in terms of how many big conventions take place here. Mainly because the almighty Dragon Con takes place in Atlanta. I haven’t been to it yet, but I hear it’s amazing. It’s on my list of conventions to attend for sure.

Next, there’s Anime Weekend Atlanta. Unlike Dragon Con, this one takes place in the airport area of Atlanta, kind of like Anime North in my hometown of Toronto. This convention also gets many attendees – over 20,000. I have a friend who lives in the Atlanta area and she says it’s pretty awesome.

But that’s not all – there’s Momocon as well in Atlanta. It’s another big geek convention in the ATL. Looking at the address on Google Maps, it’s not the same location as Dragon Con, but it looks like the con is in the downtown area on Google Maps. With 31,000+ attendees, it’s pretty big!

5. Toronto – My fellow Torontonians love to complain about the lack of events, but I’d say we are spoiled with good conventions all-year round. That’s something many parts of North America are not fortunate to have (especially other areas of Canada).

Take a look at 2017’s calendar for my Torontonians:

January: Anime Shogatsu, FrostCon
February: Genrecon
March: Toronto ComiCon
April: Ottawa Geek Market (okay I cheated with this one. I’m sure the Geek Market is good though.)
May: Anime North
June: Sailor Moon Celebration, YetiCon
July: ConBravo!, Montreal Comiccon (5 hour drive to Montreal)
August: Cosplay Matsuri, Otakuthon (5 hour drive to Montreal)
September: Fan Expo
October/November: Youmacon (4 Hour drive to Detroit)
December: Toronto Fan Days

There you have it. The two largest Anime conventions in Canada are only 4-5 hours away from each other. I’m pretty damn sure Fan Expo is biggest comic convention, given how big and crowded it gets. Youmacon is one of the larger Anime conventions in North America. When those events aren’t taking place anytime soon, you have these other great conventions happening as well. And best of all – you don’t even need to hop on a plane to reach any of them if you live in Toronto.

As a geek and/or cosplayer in the Toronto area, you are fortunate to have at LEAST 1 event happening each month for most of the year. Be happy that Toronto is one of the best cities for Anime conventions!

What to take away from all this

-Move to Los Angeles/SoCal to satisfy all your Weeaboo needs. Just kidding.

-Use www.Animecons.com to plan out your con travelling. If you are less fortunate to live in a location less conductive to Anime conventions, you can always take a road trip or plane to one in another city. The people who run that website are awesome. They even have a guide to starting your own Anime convention (they recommend not doing it though!)

-Although I mainly mentioned the biggest conventions in North America in this post, don’t forget about the smaller ones too. Big doesn’t necessarily mean = good. There are a lot of great conventions that are small and medium-sized (e.g. YetiCon). And there are some conventions that are huge but not really that great. Long lineups, expensive weekend passes and crappier and more difficult hotel booking policies tend to occur when a con is really large and popular. For me personally, I despise insanely crowded conventions; they’re a huge turn-off for me.

What if you live in Canada?

  • If you live in Greater Toronto Area, you have plenty of options compared to the rest of Canada. No complaining!
  • If you live in BC or Western Alberta, there aren’t too many big conventions as far as I know but you still have good options. I heard Animethon and Otafest in Alberta are decent. There’s Anime Revolution/Evolution in Vancouver, and Sakuracon nearby in Seattle which is great.
  • If you live in the Prairies, yeah you’re screwed for big cons. At least you have small, local ones that may be good.
  • If you live way up north (e.g. Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories), you’re probably screwed for any conventions happening up there. Same if you live in Newfoundland or Labrador.
  • If you live in the Maritimes, yeah you’re screwed as well. Well, there’s…Animaritime?

In a future post, I’ll compare the differences between a large Canadian convention and a large American convention, based on my experiences.

How do you guy feel about the local convention scene in your area? Do you wish there were more? Let me know in the comments!


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