With all these choices out there, conventions can be pretty overwhelming, even for the seasoned attendee! I've put together a short Beginner's Guide to Conventions, based on my own experiences, to help you prepare for and navigate through these events.
CHOOSING AND PREPARING FOR A CONVENTION
- Do your research: determine which conventions are worth going to based on factors such as schedule, distance, cost (admission, travel and accommodation), and relevance.
- Personally, I start by looking at conventions closest to home so I can avoid the cost of overnight stays and other such accommodations; then I narrow down my cons by determining which vendors or media guests I'm most interested in seeing.
- Get tickets and all passes in advance to avoid lines and the possibility of things being sold out. Conventions are meant to be fun; standing in line to purchase tickets the day of or finding out that something is sold out can really put a damper on your day!
- It's always more fun to invite a friend (or small group or friends) or family, unless you're the type of person who prefers to do things on their own.
WHAT TO BRING
- Big bags usually aren't allowed, but a small bag is ok
- Cell phone & charger or power bank
- Wallet (with cash)
- Camera (fully charged and with enough memory)
- An item you want signed, as sometimes you're allowed to bring your own items to autograph sessions
HOW TO PLAN YOUR DAY
- Get plenty of sleep the night before or you'll be in for a long day – especially if you're commuting.
- Stay hydrated - cons are hot and crowded, especially if you cosplay!
- Bring cash - many vendors offer reduced prices or will negotiate when cash is involved.
- Don't buy the first thing you see. Walk the floor and check out all the different vendors before you settle on souvenirs. Many vendors will sell the same items but at different prices. It always pays to shop around!
- Show up early for panels/photo ops/autograph sessions. Panels fill up quickly and a lot of times standing room is not allowed. Don't miss out on an opportunity because you waited too long to enter a panel!
- Don't try to do everything - make a list of the things you really want to do but be flexible and keep an open mind. Lines can be long and things can come up unexpectedly...hope for the best but always have a backup plan.
- If you're a social butterfly, take advantage of events like cosplay cruises, after con bar meetups, trivia sessions, and other events offered on or off the convention premises. Conventions are a great way to meet people who share your interests, so it doesn't hurt to take advantage of the opportunities!
- Most importantly, have fun!
- While a lot of cons do have cosplay contests, cosplay in general is not a competition. If you want to dress up for a convention, do it. It doesn't matter if your costume is put together from pieces in your closet, made by hand and hours of work, or purchased from a skilled artisan on Etsy. Cosplay is about having fun.
- That being said, it's good to plan ahead to avoid panicking the night or week before.
- Remember that most conventions have strict policies regarding prop weapons. It's best to refer to each convention's FAQ page for specific rules on what is and isn't allowed.
- Always keep in mind that cosplay does not equal consent. Remember to ask before taking photos of other cosplayers; similarly, you are never obligated to pose for any photos or participate in any activities that make you uncomfortable. Again, conventions and cosplay are all about having fun.
Do you have some tips of your own or a convention experience you'd like to share? I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment in the section below!
UPCOMING COMIC CONS
- Boston Comic Con (August 11-13 | Boston, MA)
- Steel City Comic Con (August 11-13 | Monroeville, PA)
- Vermont Comic Con (August 26-27 | Burlington, VT)
- San Francisco Comic Con (September 1-3 | San Francisco, CA)
- Dragon Con (September 1-4 | Atlanta, GA)
- Rose City Comic Con (September 8-10 | Portland, OR)
- New York Comic Con (October 5-8 | New York City, NY)
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