Conventions in the world of Geek typically consist of three days of non stop madness, as hundreds of thousands of people gather to celebrate their passions. There’s cosplaying, panels, workshops, booths, and even the chance to take a picture with your favorite writer, actor, hero, designer… The possibilities are truly endless. Ever since geek went chic, these Cons have been bursting at the seams and attendance is steadily growing year on year.
There are conventions year-round, all over the world. From anime fans to Doctor Who lovers, there’s a place for all geeks to come together and celebrate their favorite movies, video games, television, anime, manga and more with their community.
The following twenty are some of the most popular geek conventions around the world. Whether you’re new to the convention scene or a Con veteran, there’s a convention here for everyone to attend and enjoy.
20. WonderCon – 46,000
WonderCon is held each year in Anaheim, California, and is a movie, science fiction, and comic book convention. It was first held in San Francisco, California from 1987-2011 before moving to Southern California for Anaheim in 2012.
This convention was created by the same people behind the San Diego Comic Con, so it has a similar vibe, but it’s much smaller and more intimate and attendees have noted that the smaller crowds mean a less chaotic atmosphere.
19. D23 Expo – 50,000
This is a rather unique convention with a different focus than most of the more popular conventions in the United States. If you’re a Disney fan, then you’re sure to love the D23 Expo.
Regarded as the “ultimate fan experience”, D23 first began in 2009 at the Anaheim Convention Center. D23 is the official fan club for the Walt Disney Company with the “D” standing for Disney, and “23” standing for 1923, the year Walt first arrived in Hollywood. D23 had its second convention in 2011 and third in 2013. The next D23 Expo will be held in 2015.
18. Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo – 53,000
Also known as C2E2, the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo started in April of 2010 and focuses on manga, anime, video games, toys, television, and movies. Dozens of professional and amateur comic book artists have attended the convention with over 53,000 fans attracting celebrities such as Chris Hemsworth of Thor fame.
The convention even famously held a special auction for the props from the first Iron Man movie, which was met with great success.
17. Gen Con – 56,614
Gen Con is the largest table-top game convention in North America held in Indianapolis, Indiana and includes a multitude of games from board games, pen-and-paper, card games, and more. If you can play it on a table, it’s at Gen Con.
The convention has a relatively long history, dating back to 1968. For four days, there are non-stop games from tournaments to championship-style events.
16. DragonCon – 57,000
DragonCon is an annual convention with a focus on gaming, anime, writing, art, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, science, film, television, and more. There is so much to DragonCon (they even have a parade) that the event is held over the course of four days. With over 57,000 attendees, 400 guests, and nearly 1,500 volunteers, this event is held in Atlanta, Georgia each year, and continues to grow.
15. Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo – 65,000
In 2011, Stan Lee put together a massive convention that attracted fans of anime, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and gaming held over a course of three days in Los Angeles, California. In its first year alone, Comikaze Expo had 35,000 attendees. In 2014, attendance was up to 65,000.
The convention has attracted numerous celebrities such as Weird Al, Adam West, Todd McFarlane, and Kevin Smith. With the numbers growing at this rate, this convention is set to give some of the larger Cons a run for their money in the near future.
14. Wizard World Chicago – 70,000
Not to be confused with the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Wizard World Chicago was founded in 1972 and held over a course of three days in the summer. It is one of the larger comic book conventions in North America and attracts over 70,000 attendees each year.
The conference recently expanded from focusing solely on comic books to professional wrestling, web comics, fantasy novels, television, horror, anime, manga, cartoons, and more.
13. Emerald City Comicon – 70,000
The Emerald City Comicon is an annual convention held in Seattle, Washington with a focus on comic book culture. It’s the largest geek convention in the state of Washington and is held over the course of three days.
The event has had to move locations on a regular basis due to the growing number of attendees each year and the consequent need for a bigger, more suitable space. You won’t find anything about movies or television shows here: You will only find the purity of comic books and the surrounding culture at this event.
12. PAX Prime – 70,000
PAX is short for the Penny Arcade eXpo and is a series of gaming festivals held in different cities such as San Antonio, Melbourne, Boston, and Seattle. PAX Prime is held in Seattle, Washington each year and was started by the writers of the Penny Arcade webcomic, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik.
The event has grown so popular that different cities started to host their own PAX events. This is a convention exclusively for gamers, which means that the fan base for this one is completely unique and more ‘niche’ than the other conventions on this list.
11. AnimeExpo – 80,000
AnimeExpo is an annual anime convention held in Los Angeles, California boasting over 80,000 attendees in 2014. The convention is held on the weekend of July 4th and stretches over four days.
Although it has been held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in the last few years, this convention has also been hosted in New York, Anaheim, and Tokyo, to name just a few. The event has been known to welcome cosplayers of all sorts and to encourage the vibrant craft of cosplay. This convention is also known as the largest Anime event in North America.
10. Anime Festival Asia – 82,000
In Southeast Asia, there are a series of anime conventions which fall under the umbrella of the Anime Festival Asia, held during a weekend in November. The festival has been held in cities in Singapore and Indonesia. If you’re into anime, this is definitely the convention to attend as it typically boasts previews of upcoming releases, first looks, writers, artists, voice actors, merchandise and more. It is one of the largest anime conventions outside of Japan.
9. MCM London Comic Con – 101,600
The MCM London Comic Con is held twice a year in London, during the months of May and October, with a focus on anime, sci-fi, video games, cosplay, manga, and other popular media from the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan.
The huge volume of attendees has caught the attention of movie makers, television producers, writers, game developers, and artists worldwide as the event has proven to be a great way to reach a new fan base in the United Kingdom. Doctor Who is, of course, a popular favourite at this Con!
8. Otakon – 109,000
Otakon is held in Baltimore, Maryland at the Baltimore Convention Center. Each year, Baltimore sees three days of anime, manga, movies, and music. With over 109,000 attendees, Otakon is one of the longest running anime conventions in the United States and was the second biggest anime convention in 2013. In 2014, Otakon announced that there would be a second convention in Las Vegas, Nevada being held in January.
Otakon continues to grow each year with numerous developers, writers, and celebrity guests drawing in a growing number of attendees.
7. AnimeJapan – 111,252
AnimeJapan is probably the youngest convention on this list, as it just started in 2014 at the Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo, Japan. Although it’s less than a year old, it certainly started with a bang with attendee numbers at over 111,000.
The event was an iconic merger of the famous Tokyo International Anime Fair and the Anime Contents Expo. Given the large numbers, it is likely that AnimeExpo will become one of the largest anime conventions in the world in just a few years.
6. San Diego Comic Con International – 130,000
San Diego Comic Con International is an event that holds a special place in the hearts of many, as it’s one of the most popular and long-standing and iconic Cons in the world. Starting in 1970, SDCC has grown to become one of the largest geek conventions in the United States and internationally.
It has become the major go-to convention for the biggest Marvel and DC stars, and is the official start to the summer for many geeky superfans. With major celebrities in attendance and cosplayers who look like the real deal, SDCC continues to grow and enrich the geek community in innumerable ways.
5. New York Comic Con – 151,000
In 2014, the New York Comic Con saw over 151,000 attendees. Each year, the convention is hosted in the Big Apple. It’s a running joke that NYCC is always competing with the SDCC, and it seems that New York wins out in the battle of the Cons with over 20,000 more attendees than its West Coast competitor. NYCC also hosts a week-long event called “Super Week” leading up to the main event, with over 110 events in multiple locations around the city.
4. Japan Expo – 240,000
If there’s anyone who knows how to host a geek convention, it’s the city of Paris, France. Japan Expo started in 1999 and has grown to host over 240,000 attendees each year.
The event lasts for five days and has everything from panels, cosplays, demonstrations, celebrity meet and greets, vendor tables, and more. In fact, the event has become so big that it has even bred smaller conventions known as the “Chibi Japan Expo” as well as “Japan Expo USA” held in California. It has lately become one of the most highly anticipated conventions in Europe.
3. Lucca Comics & Games – 240,000
While you’re in the hills of Tuscany, not only can you enjoy the stunning landscape of Italy, but you can also attend one of the largest comic book and gaming conventions in the world.
Starting in 1966, Lucca Comics & Games was originally called Salone Internazionale del Comics and has grown steadily over the years. Located in Lucca, Tuscany, the town is taken over by large tents each year, in unique contrast to the medieval city landscape. The event hosts over 240,000 attendees each year, with additional thousands left disappointed when tickets sell out.
2. gamescom – 335,000
Held in Cologne, Germany each year, gamescom is the world’s largest gaming convention and event. With over 335,000 attendees from 88 countries, 6,000 journalists, and over 700 exhibitors, it is a highly anticipated annual event.
Gamescom started in 2009, and grows each year thanks to hosting representatives from almost every major video game publisher. It’s a win-win for both game developers and attendees. People who go to gamescom have the opportunity to test out and even purchase games before they are available on the market, while the Con presents a great marketing opportunity for game developers as they get the benefit of increased exposure and endless Beta testing opportunities.
1. Comiket – 590,000
The name “Comiket” is the abbreviated version of the full name, “Comic Market.” Starting in 1975 with only 600 attendees, Comiket has grown to have over 590,000 attendees and the event is now held twice a year.
People have actually lined up at the doors of the convention’s location days in advance so they can get first dibs on buying different products, although the city of Tokyo has tried to ban the practice due to the problems the crowds present to the city. This particular convention is so popular because fans can find the largest collection of self-published manga, and some exceptionally rare and valuable items are on sale.
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