It’s that time of year, where we’re getting through the Spring time and we’ll be looking towards the bright summer sun. Whilst many people opt to go to the beach, or they go on a big vacation somewhere, thousands of people across the UK will be going to an entirely different kind of holiday: A convention. Be it an anime convention, a video games convention, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention – No matter what it is, people will start making their way to these spectacles.
For those who have never attended one though, it can be a little bit daunting. People with incredible costumes are going to be strutting their stuff around the place, showing off the creative crafts they’ve poured hours and days over. As I look forward to a week off my day job, I will be spending my time off working on one of my impending cosplay costumes: Deku Link. Before then however, let’s look at what you need to know about the convention scene and the sorts of things you will need to take with you.
List – What to take with you
- Lods of emone
- Phone & Charger *
- Laptop/Tablet & Chargers (If you’re bringing these!)
- If you’re keen on taking high quality pictures, I’d recommend a good standalone camera. Check out my Panasonic DMC-G5 review, which cost less than £250!
- Costumes (If going in costume! I once forgot half of my costume pieces and had to make costumes up as I went along. It went well, weirdly.)
- 3DS – If you have one, take it with you. Trust me: You’ll be Street Passed like there’s no tomorrow!
- Clothes – Or just costumes if you’re doing costumes for the whole event… But it’s better to be safe than sorry and take actual clothes with you!
- Toiletries – Because not all places you stay at will provide these, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- A towel.
Isn’t a lot of this common sense?
Of course it is.
Ultimately, when you go to a convention, a lot of book-smarts will kind of fly out of the window. It’s an exciting time and if you’re going alone, it’s really daunting. When I went to EGX Rezzed in March, I had to travel to London on the Wednesday night after work. I was on a coach to London by myself and got to my room at 10:00pm! Whilst I wanted to go and par-tay in the local pubs, I decided to remain good and get myself ready for the upcoming days.
Whilst Rezzed is more like an expo than it is a convention, let me assure you the above list still came in handy. In some cases, once you were there, getting money out was actually pretty awkward… So most things I bought remained on card payments. Not the best way to keep track of your expenditure, I have to admit. By having my plan and taking only what was needed with me, I was able to keep on top of everything and yes: It kind of helps having a plan.
Speaking of plans…
Do I need to do anything beforehand?
Research the venue you’re going to. Ayacon Apocalypse and Alcon 2014 were both on university campuses. This meant there was a lot of walking between venues. Our dorms for Ayacon & Alcon were quite far away from the main buildings where events and the clubbing happened. So wear sensible shoes for those.
Conversely, Kitacon last year I stayed in the Hilton itself. This meant I was just going on an elevator then around a corner to go to bed. Seriously, I lucked out! For this years Kitacon, I am going to be staying in a nearby hotel, which is a good 15 minutes walk away from the venue. That’s long enough, so again sensible footwear will make all the difference in the world here.
Also be sure you know about what facilities are nearby. Chances are you won’t actually live inside of the venue the whole time, but in some cases you could luck out and get a venue that covers everything. With Kitacon, although we had food and drink on site, it was expensive. As such we often went to restaurants and shops off site, such as a nearby Frankie & Benny’s and the budget saviour that was the nearby Spar.
Once you know what’s nearby, you can decide: Do you need to take anything food and drink related with you to your venue? Do you need to be weary of your costumes at all? For example, if you have a costume that’s long and flowing, is standing outside all day a good idea? If there are a lot of steps, are robes really such a good idea? I should ask myself those questions in future.
Is there anything to be wary of?
Other than people being into the same things as you, be prepared to be surprised by everyone else’s knowledge. A lot of people will have been to many conventions, so a new face in the scene can be particularly exciting to them! They might want to discuss and find out what you know about certain topics or fandoms.
If you see a cosplay that you really like, be respectful. I cannot stress this enough, be damned respectful. Do not jump at them even if it’s for a hug. “Glomps”, hugs and the likes are all around the place at conventions – But you need to be wary of other people and not be a total jerk to others. Not everyone wants your body touching theirs in any way – That can be quite off putting. Some cosplayers don costumes to gain confidence and trust me, it is a liberating experience. Be wary of others and let others be wary of you…
But most important of all: Have fun.
Hopefully this little guide gives you some ideas as to what to look out for and what to take with you to conventions. Do you have anything to add to the list? Anything about research you’d like to add to the guidance here? As always, comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll see what helpful hints and tips you all have to share!