For being such an introvert, I seem to love throwing myself into crazy new situations. A few years ago, that crazy new experience was an anime convention! I had just gotten back into anime (Deathnote was my re-introduction choice) and my partner suggested we attend the local anime convention in Calgary, Otafest. I was super, super nervous and excited before attending. Excited because I couldn’t wait to attend panels, see cosplay in person, and find new animes to watch. Nervous because I had so many questions about conventions and just wanted to fit in at my first one! What is the best way to find panels? How does one cosplay at cons? Are there special rules I need to follow? Is it possible to be too nerdy or not nerdy enough? Oh my dear Fluttershy, what was I to do?

Thankfully, with the help of my partner, some internet research, and some excellent panellist, my first convention was a success! So much so, I have now attended cons in 3 different countries! I still get nervous before each con, but with each one I learn a little bit more about how to make the most out of my convention experience. And now I am here to pass these tid bits on to you! These tips are geared towards first time goers on how to be prepared as possible for your first convention, but I am sure any of you veterans will appreciate them. Add your own tips in the comments below to share your wealth of knowledge!

(Special thanks to Eventbrite for this blog post idea!)

Five Tips for First Time Con Goers

1. Look at schedules online on a cons official website in advance to plan your day. This way you roughly know where you want to go throughout the day. Make sure to grab an official timetable once you get to the con though, as last minute changes do occur!

2. Budget well in advance! Conventions can be done cheaply, but they can also get real expensive if you don’t plan. Remember to factor in costs such as autograph/photo tokens, VIP experiences, sovereigns, food, and transport for the day of the cons. Plus if you are planning on cosplaying at the con, factor that in too! It’s easy to enjoy a convention when you aren’t stressing about money.

3. If you decide to cosplay at the con, plan and create cosplays in advance. Most cosplayers will tell you that the creation process almost always take longer than expected. I know, because I’ve done it! So give yourself the most time possible to be creative, make sometime awesome, and not be stressed!

4. Look up convention rules before attending a convention. This can be everything from cosplay weapons policy (which varies hugely between cons), bags on the convention floor (big ones are highly discouraged), to panel photography (remember flashes can be blinding!). Conventions work best when everyone is on the same page, and there is less of a chance of your epic sword being confiscated by security.

5. Use resources such as Eventbrite to source out conventions and events surrounding cons. While conventions are huge draws, there are often smaller events that take place around the convention that are often the cherry on top to any get together. Find themed after parties, meet ups, or post con events with easy location searching. (Or for those experienced con goers looking for more, plan your own event and then use Eventbrite to sell tickets!)

Conventions are a ton of fun! There is always so much to see and do, and the more prepared you are, the less nervous you should be. Relax and let your fandom flag fly!

Happy Con Going!