The Big List of Anime Conventions

Posted by Lauren Hall-Stigerts on June 6, 2014 in Editorial, Events -- Share:

You might have seen my list of must-see geek conventions where I selected 17 excellent events from a variety of geekdoms such as video games, anime, and sci-fi. I received great feedback from you about the list, and readers wanted to see even more options across different types of conventions all over the globe.

This isn’t a directory as much as it is a curated list of both the small gems and big diamonds of the anime convention world. I researched what makes each convention special and provided you with their most popular events, tips on making the most of it, and more. Every anime convention has viewing rooms, dealer halls, cosplay competitions, dances, and guests – but, as you’ll see, every convention is different.

If your anime convention isn’t listed, fear not: this list will be updated and expanded. Let me know which anime conventions I should review in the comments below and I’ll consider them in the next round. (And check my list of 17 geek conventions you should see before you die – your favorite convention might already be on there.)

United States – West Coast Anime Conventions
United States – Midwest Anime Conventions
United States – East Coast Anime Conventions
United States – Southern Anime Conventions
Canada Anime Conventions
International Anime Conventions

[Photo Credit: Darkain Multimedia via Compfight cc]

United States – West Coast Anime Conventions

Anime Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California
January 9-11, 2015
Tickets: $40 – $60

If giganti-cons like Anime Expo are burning you out, you don’t need to look far for an intimate Southern California anime convention. Anime Los Angeles is the kid sister to the larger conventions in the area–surprisingly, some reported it having even more of an emphasis on cosplay than Anime Expo. (That says something – I’ve been to AX and the cosplay was pretty dang big.)

Kumoricon

Vancouver, Washington
August 29 – September 1, 2014
Tickets: $40 – $55

The Pacific Northwest’s growing anime convention, Kumoricon is an intimate gathering of 5,000 enthusiastic fans. “Kumori”, Japanese for ‘cloudy’, embraces the area’s overcast nature with a smile. An American voice actor lineup, cosplay chess, and the geek-friendly exhibitor hall make for a great way to spend Labor Day Weekend.

Japan Expo USA

San Mateo, California
August 22-24, 2014
Tickets: TBD

Europe’s largest anime convention organization returns to the United States for its second year. Japan Expo USA is still testing the waters as a young organization in a new country, and the first year fell short of its projected attendance number of 12,000. Hopefully 2014 will bring improvements and a smoother convention experience.

Saboten Con

Glendale, Arizona
August 29 – September 1, 2014
Tickets: $40

The largest anime convention in Arizona is home to over 4,000 otaku. The event gets huge thumbs-up on Saboten Con’s Facebook page with many attendees saying it’s the best convention, friendly to first-timers, and there is more than enough to do. Unique events such as a J-fashion show, a tea party, and a cosplayer health panel keep fans returning.

SacAnime

Sacramento, California
August 29-31, 2014
Tickets: $25 – $45

SacAnime sprouted its own wings after being a popular facet of its parent event, the Sacramento Comic, Toy and Anime Show (Sac-Con). “Our philosophy has always been to provide fun, safe, family friendly environment, with top shelf entertainment at a reasonable price.” It’s no wonder that the show has grown to well over 10,000 attendees in its ten years. Also, this is one of the few anime conventions that operate twice a year: once in the winter and again in the summer!

United States – Midwest Anime Conventions

Anime Central

Chicago, Illinois
May 15-17, 2015
Tickets: $40 – $60

Anime Central

Image: Animexcel

Better known as “ACen” in the anime community, Anime Central is the Midwest’s largest Japanese pop-culture convention. 2014 was host to nearly 30,000 attendees to enjoy a variety of geek culture: gaming, movies, Japanese guests, educational panels, and more.

Anime Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
February 13-15, 2015
Tickets: $30 – $45

Anime Milwaukee may be a young convention, but attendance has been growing a steady 20% – 25% year over year. The next event is on track to break the 7,000 attendee mark and has adult-oriented programming such as a late-night rave and an anime bar with themed cocktails.

Anime-ZAP!

Peoria, Illinois
January 2-4, 2015
Tickets: $15 – $35

This midwest winter anime convention will warm you up for a new year of anime, manga, video games, and more. An intimate gathering of 1,000 – 2,000 in attendance will bring you back to your convention roots. Win a date at the date auction, play anime-themed games like Death Note Mafia, and browse the impressive exhibit hall.

AnimeIowa

Coralville, Iowa
July 25-27, 2014
Tickets: $35 – $50

The middle of cow country hosts a lively little gathering of anime geeks. This 24-hour convention prides itself on being a welcoming and friendly atmosphere for its 3,000+ attendees. Bonus: there’s an array of healthy eats on-site for convention goers. If you’re familiar with anime conventions, you’ll know how prolific junk food can be. What else could you expect from America’s bread basket?

Anime Midwest

Chicago, Illinois
July 4-6, 2014
Tickets: $35 – $100

A new relatively new kid on the Chicago anime convention scene, Anime Midwest has been around since 2011 and pride themselves in being “by the fans, for the fans”. Five thousand attended in 2013, and the organization is striving for 10,000 in 2014. Now is your chance to get in on an intimate anime convention!

Anime NebrasKon

Omaha, Nebraska
October 31 – November 2, 2014
Tickets: $25 – $50

Anime NebrasKon offers everything you want in an anime convention on a smaller scale within a tight community of fans and friends. Hosting year-’round gatherings helps members keep in touch and the energy growing until the big Halloween bash.

AniMinneapolis

Minneapolis, Minnesota
May 23-25, 2014
Tickets: $40 – $50

AniMinneapolis prides itself on offering something for everyone–whether you’re outgoing or like to keep to yourself. At only three years young, it’s quickly becoming an attendee favorite with its nerdcore concerts, cosplay contests, and free ramen. (Um, how many other anime conventions can you name that give away FREE RAMEN?)

Colassalcon

Sandusky, Ohio
June 5-8, 2014
Tickets: $10 – $55

Formerly known as the Cleveland Colossal Convention, Colossalcon lives up to its name if not in the length of the event. Four days of official anime convention time is quite a commitment, whether you’re a staff member or an attendee. And it’s not just about the convention itself: Colassalcon is hosted at America’s largest indoor water park.

Daisho Con

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
November 21-23, 2014
Tickets: $25 – $75

Daisho Con is more than a 2,000-attendee convention: it’s a story that continuously evolves with each year of the event. Join Musashi, Daisho Con’s mascot, through programming such as a cosplay contest, video gaming, an interactive show featuring attendees, and more.

Naka-Kon

Overland Park, Kansas
March 13-15, 2015
Tickets: $20 – $30

Give a gold star to Naka-Kon for creating a lineup of truly unique programming. Between their interactive ghost story event hosted at midnight and a warrior obstacle course, this isn’t your typical anime convention. The attendance of nearly 8,000 otaku makes Naka-Kon a Japanese oasis in the middle of the Midwest.

Nan Desu Kan

Denver, Colorado
September 12-14, 2014
Tickets: $30 – $50

A medium-sized anime convention approaching 8,000 attendees, Nan Desu Kan brings out the cosplayers for the World Cosplay Summit competition, where the finalists have the chance to represent the United States on the International stage. NDK is a non-profit that loves to support charities and raises money every year for a variety of causes.

No Brand Con

Eau Claire, Wisconsin
April 24-26, 2015
Tickets: $15 – $35

No Brand Con is celebrating its 13th year as Wisconsin’s longest-running anime convention. The event attracts a melting pot of English voice acting talent and experienced DJs. Its 2,000 in attendance enjoy unique programming such as a charity auction where dance dates are auctioned off, and a Mystery Science Theater 3000-style “mock a movie” marathon.

YoumaCon

Detroit, Michigan
October 30 – November 2, 2014
Tickets: $50 – $120

Youmacon
VampireBree

YoumaCon’s focus on all-ages programming features celebrity guest panels, live musical performances, video games, and even a live-action Mario Party competition where participants ARE the video game characters! Detroit’s celebration of Internet geekdom is a medium-sized convention with 14,000 attendees in 2013.

United States – East Coast Anime Conventions

Anime Boston

Boston, Massachusetts
April 3-5, 2015
Tickets: $40 – $65

Anime Boston
Image: anime diet

Anime Boston is the Northeast’s largest anime convention, topping over 25,000 attendees in 2014. Previous guests include Dai Sato (anime scriptwriter for Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell: SIC, and Ergo Proxy); Japanese band JAM Project; and Magi voice actress Cristina Vee.

Anime Festival Orlando

Orlando, Florida
July 25-27, 2014
Tickets: $40 – $60

Anime Festival Orlando will be welcoming English voice actors Troy Baker (Bioshock Infinite) and Kari Wahlgren (Samurai Champloo) to its celebration of Japanese pop culture. Be sure to arrive early or use mass transit to get there – parking has been reported to be an issue at this event.

Anime Mid-Atlantic

Chesapeake, Virginia
June 13-15, 2014
Tickets: $25 – $55

After jumping around to various locations in Virginia, Anime Mid-Atlantic has settled on the picturesque city of Chesapeake to host this 5,000+ attendee convention. Notable programming treats are the ramen- and sushi-eating contests and the real-time making of a novel.

Anime USA

Washington, D.C.
October 3-5, 2014
Tickets: $32 – $70

Anime USA
Image: Anime USA

This east coast anime convention was originally hosted in Virginia from 1999 through 2011 until they outgrew their shoes. What differentiates Anime USA from most other conventions is its authentic Maid Cafe and Host Club – interactive experiences featuring entertaining lunch companions.

Animazement

Raleigh, North Carolina
May 21-24, 2015
Tickets: $45 – $75

Animazement is a completely fan run, volunteer operated anime convention in the heart of the east coast. Its history began with a 36-hour anime marathon in 1997 and has blossomed into a 10,000 attendee family-friendly festival. The variety of Japanese cultural programming covers the ancient to the modern: from a shamisen performer to the founder of the famous Mad House anime production studio.

Another Anime Convention

Manchester, New Hampshire
October 17-19, 2014
Tickets: $40 – $50

Another Anime Convention is an intimate gathering of over 2,000 attendees from the area. This down-to-earth convention will bring you back to your con roots, when an entire event could fit into one hotel and everybody knows your name–or is at least willing to learn it. Tea fans should check out the Sunday Tea Party.

ConnectiCon

Hartford, Connecticut
July 10-13, 2014
Tickets: $50 – $75

ConnectiCon

Image: Kalamari Kastle

Technically, ConnectiCon is a “massively multi-genre convention.” (Perhaps we can coin the acronym “MMGC”?) That means you’ll see much more than anime here – horror, sci-fi, comics, television, and more. But many anime guests are attracted to this 12,000+ attendee convention such as Vic Mignogna, Chris Cason (of Dragonball Z fame), Lauren Landa (Attack on Titan voice actress), and more.

KotoriCon

Sewell, New Jersey
January 9-10, 2015
Tickets: $25 – $30

KotoriCon
Image: KotoriCon

Bigger isn’t always better: KotoriCon is “the little anime con with a big heart,” and it is a great hidden gem for those who prefer the smaller, more intimate anime conventions. This convention is operated by local college students who are passionate about promoting Japanese culture. Feel great in your attendance knowing all proceeds go to humanitarian charities. Buy your tickets early – it sold out last year!

MetroCon

Tampa, Florida
July 11-13, 2014
Tickets: $45 – $100

MetroCon is a for-profit anime convention that is expecting to break their 10,000 attendee milestone in 2014. Convention goers have overwhelmingly positive feedback for the event, citing it as one of the biggest and friendliest anime cons they have attended where everyone–from young to old–can be themselves.

ShadoCon

Palm Harbor, Florida
October 31 – November 2, 2014
Tickets: $40 – $80

ShadoCon mashes up anime, gaming, and comics for one incredible weekend at the Innisbrook Resort. The Breakdance Breakdown, Shado Tournament, and the Final Fantasy Ball are three of their most popular and unique programming events. ShadoCon’s cleverly named Eternal Shadow Pass is an incredible deal for die-hard Florida geeks: a one-time purchase of $450 gets you admittance forever with perks every year.

Tsubasacon

Huntington, West Virginia
October 10-12, 2014
Tickets: $35 – $60

Get ready to don your angel wings (tsubasa is Japanese for “wings”) – Tsubasacon is an intimate anime convention in West Virginia. Their cosplay-centric programming features a masquerade ball, a cosplay craftsmanship competition with cash prizes, and even a live cosplay lip-synch music video!

United States – Southern Anime Conventions

Anime Overload

Austin, Texas
August 8-10, 2014
Tickets: $35 – $85

Texas’ friendly anime convention is back for year six! This family-friendly weekend features fan-run programming. Photographers: get your cameras ready! Anime Overload has been reported to be a very photograph-friendly convention where the cosplayers are happy to pose.

Anime Weekend Atlanta

Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Dates: September 26-28, 2014
Tickets: $25 – $65

Anime Weekend Atlanta
Image: Bentpic5

Anime Weekend Atlanta holds the crown as one of North America’s top ten largest anime conventions. It also has a notable AMV (anime music video) competition with hundreds of entries – the organization says its “Video Art Track” is the largest event for amateur music videos. AWA is on pace to break the 20,000 attendee mark in 2014.

AnimeFest

Dallas, Texas
August 15-18, 2014
Tickets: $25 – $50

AnimeFest has street cred – conceived in 1992, it’s one of America’s longest-running anime conventions. But don’t mistake its age for its size: AnimeFest is Texas’s biggest “little” convention at an estimated 8,000 – 10,000 in attendance. Visit this year and see amazing Japanese guests such as Dai Sato (scriptwriter for Ghost in the Shell and more), Hiroshi Shimizu (animation director for a number of Studio Ghibli films), Kazuhiro Furuhashi (animator for Ranma 1/2), and many more American anime industry guests.

HamaCon

Huntsville, Alabama
June 6-8, 2014
Tickets: $30 – $48

This l’il fan-friendly convention in America’s deep south draws American voice acting talent and cosplay enthusiasm. The Maid Café and Host Club has sold out tickets in 2014, so be sure to reserve your spot early for 2015!

IKKiCON

Austin, Texas
January 2-4, 2015
Tickets: $35 – $115

Plan your post-holiday escape now – downtown Austin will be quiet with the exception of the bumping anime parties. Check out the VIP perks – for just a few extra bucks ($25 – $80 above ticket brice) you get to enjoy special access to events, custom souvenirs, opportunities to meet the celebrities, and more.

MechaCon

New Orleans, Louisiana
August 1-3, 2014
Tickets: $45 – $65

Escape the deep south’s summer humidity with 5,000 other anime fans at MechaCon! As the name suggests, there’s a special emphasis on mecha at this anime convention. Cosplay shines at events such as Anime Burlesque and Cosplay World’s video game cosplay competition. If you’re driving, plan ahead for parking premiums on-site, or play at Harrah’s across the street for 30 minutes to get free parking.

San Japan

San Antonio, Texas
July 18-20, 2014
Tickets: $35 – $50

Another Texas anime convention gem, San Japan is a medium-sized gathering of over 10,000 attendees that just keeps getting bigger every year. Fan parodies, Internet culture, and the Masquerade Ball draw in the enthusiasm. If you’re traveling from across the vast plains of the state, here’s a pro-tip: hitch a ride with Megabus for only $10!

Canada Anime Conventions

Anime Evolution

Vancouver, British Columbia
June 27-29, 2014
Tickets: $35 – $55

Anime Evolution is truly a story of fan passion and resiliency in the face of obstacles. The growing convention of 6,000 attendees faced financial and legal complications in 2010, canceling the event indefinitely. A new non-profit resurrected the phoenix from the ashes in 2012. The reincarnation proved to be a smaller group of 2,000 – 3,000 fans with immense enthusiasm. The AMV (anime music video) contest draws attention across North America.

Anime Revolution

Vancouver, British Columbia
August 22-24, 2014
Tickets: $50 – $200

Only conceived in 2011 with over 7,000 attendees, Anime Revolution is the new kid on the block with a lot of momentum. Entertainment groups such as The 404s receive rave reviews. However, be patient as some attendees report production and staffing hiccups – looking forward to seeing how this convention matures in the coming years.

Animethon

Edmonton, Alberta
August 8-10, 2014
Tickets: $25 – $50

What started as a small anime club at an Edmonton university, Animethon has sprouted into a non-profit organization with nearly 10,000 at its annual event. Newcomers can get a sampling of what to expect at the mini-convention “A Taste of Animethon” hosted at the original university–and a great way for veterans to get their fill while waiting for next year’s convention.

Otakuthon

Congress, Montreal
August 22-24, 2014
Tickets: $30 – $50

Bilingual convention Otakuthon will please French and English speakers alike with their wide variety of Japanese pop culture programming, from anime music video screenings to a “garage sale”. Otakuthon will host the debut of the Canadian peliminary for the World Cosplay Summit – finalists will get to compete to represent Canada the world over!

International anime conventions

Abunai Con

Veldhoven, The Netherlands
August 29-31, 2014
Tickets: €19 – €49

Expect excitement to hit The Netherlands in August: Abunai is Japanese for “dangerous”. Best be bringing a helmet and protective eyewear to this small gathering that’s filled with fan programming like karaoke, competitions, workshops, and more.

Alcon

Leicester, England
September 4-7, 2014
Tickets: £5 – £25

Alcon is a small anime convention with 1,400 in attendance. All-day, all-night programming includes a dealers’ room, anime screenings, anime night club, artist alley, cosplay, all manner of gaming, and dozens of additional activities.

Animecon

The Hague, Netherlands
June 13-15, 2014
Tickets: €24 – €61

Animecon
Image: Animeconnl

Staying true to the theme of “Summer Games”, the Netherlands’ largest anime convention is pitting teams of convention attendees against each other in the Anime Olympics! Challenges such as Idol Training, “Cards Against Animecon” – a variation of the popular card game, and Japanese Bingo await competitors. Oh, and of course this wouldn’t be an anime convention without martial arts demonstrations, anime viewing, tabletop gaming, and more.

AnimagiC

Bonn, Germany
August 1-3, 2014
Tickets: €29 – €77

AnimagiC
Image: AnimagiC

German speakers: rejoice! AnimagiC is one of Germany’s best forums for anime fans. The convention attracts talent such as Tadashi Ozawa, animator of iconic anime such as Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, and Akira, who hosted animation workshops for attendees.

CosDay

Frankfurt, Germany
July 19-20, 2014
Tickets: €10 – €25

An intimate all-ages gathering of anime fans encapsulates every aspect of Japanese pop-culture with a special focus on cosplay. With over 2,000 in attendance, CosDay hosts a preliminary competition leading up to the Deutsche Cosplaymeisterschaft (German Cosplay Championship) where the winners will strut their stuff at the finals in October.

DoKomi

Düsseldorf, Germany
June 7-8, 2014
Tickets: €8 – €32

DoKomi
Image: Sweet Spice Host Club

DoKomi has introduced a ticketing system unlike that of many major anime conventions: pay what you want. Yes, that’s right – they’ve crowdsourced the convention’s funding. There’s a minimum price to pay so that the organization can cover its basic costs, but if you want to see more programming and special guests, you can pitch in. (And you’ll be rewarded with great gifts, too!) A host club, maid cafe, great DJ lineup, and interactive cosplay events keep the 12,000+ attendees returning.

Expomanga

Madrid, Spain
May 8-10, 2015
Tickets: €5 – €15

Expomanga
Image: Expocomic

One of the largest anime conventions in Europe, Expomanga welcomed 40,000 attendees through its doors. A busy schedule of over 170 activities within three days covers the gamut of anime geekery and beyond: karaoke, paintball competitions, a Pokemon tournament, workshops for the manga creator, and more.

Japan Expo

Paris, France
July 2-6, 2014
Tickets: €8 – €53

Japan Expo is one of the longest and largest anime conventions in the world: a solid five days of programming in 2014 to celebrate their fifteenth anniversary! A staggering 232,876 walked through the convention’s doors in 2013–nearly FOUR TIMES THE SIZE of America’s largest anime convention, Anime Expo. The sheer size and breadth of the event attracts dozens of exceptional special anime industry guests the world over. Be ready to anime to the extreme.

London Anime and Gaming Con

London, England
July 5-6, 2014
Tickets: £40 – £60

Why limit your fun to just anime? The London Anime and Gaming Con features over 100 gaming kiosks and indie developers. But of course your true, blue anime programming is front and center with a Maid Café, panels, and great parties. Leave the kiddies at home: this event is for those 18 and older.

Written by

Lauren is a lifelong gaming fan. She expresses her love of strong female pop-culture characters by costuming at conventions. Internet marketing consulting, playing the clarinet and sax, practicing martial arts, and geeking out over tea keeps her busy the rest of the time. Find more of her shenanigans on Twitter @hallstigerts and Google+!

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