Today I’ve prepared a collection of the 10 biggest cosplay events of the world. I took all the popular ones and made a top 10 list based on the attendance count latest year. These events are not Japanese cosplay only. They feature the whole array of popular culture like movies, comics, gaming, and the like.
Although non-American conventions attract more attendance than their American counterparts, the American conventions are more covered in media and are more fan-infested.
Note: Check the websites for latest venues and charges. Don’t rely on the data here. Also, I have left Anime LA out from the list because no reliable facts could be obtained for comparisons. It showcases great cosplaying nevertheless.
From supporting great causes and holding an annual charity event – Katsucon is more than just a convention. Their Maid Café reservations are fairly open, registrations hassle-free, and they thrive because of their pool of talented volunteers.
Usually held in the second weekend of February in Fort Washington, MD, the entry fees are quite easy, ranging from $30-70 mostly. Free for children and fairly affordably for under 12-year-olds at $45 – Katsucon is quite an affordable place.
- 15,444 attendees last time; since 1995. Held in Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, USA. Usually held in February.
- Recently fire broke out in one wing of the expo and it led to mass evacuation during the day of convention.
- FUNimation releases periodic dub cast updates and show release dates on their Katsucon panel. Recently, Black Butler’s English cast was announced.
- Katsucon’s cosplay photography has a unique taste of natural backgrounds in it. It strikes this convention out from the rest – which are mostly indoors where shooting takes place under lights.
Website experience: Katsucon’s website is elegant and boasts high clarity. There are no problems in finding the correct information, as well as no important message has been overlooked while addressing content for the website.
Otakon is another well-known convention. This one specifically maintains that it’s for otakus. And thus the name. 23 years and counting, Otakon is one of the biggest centers of cosplay excellence. Door-step registration is a bit higher than most other similarly-sized conventions at $100.
- 29,113 attendees last time; since 1992. Held in Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington DC, USA (starting 2017). July-August time.
- Many releasing information, voice actors, celebrity cosplayers, and anime voice cast announcements are very regular at Otakon.
- Otakon cosplaying is excellent. It’s never hard to find sexy cosplayers playing the roles of comic superheroines or hot waifus. It’s the dreamland of the otaku generation.
Website experience: Not a very decent design but Otakon’s website is a classic build that any traditional person would love getting information from. Although there’s less of legal explaining as compared to seemingly pointless stuff like dealers list and community – things that shouldn’t be pitted up along with more important aspects like registration info and artist display.
- 77,000 attendees last time; since 1987. Held in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
- Dragon Con is the homeland of fantasy where fearless cosplayers show off their best profiles in wide open spaces. The cosplayers are highly experimental and often bring many old and forgotten mass-popular heroes back to life.
- The attendance of Dragon Con has been spiking respectably. Dragon Con recently broke its record of attendance when it hosted over 70,000 people.
Website experience: Dragon Con’s website is pretty outdated. Although the content is regularly updated, the methods are primitive. Some links don’t return expected results like clicking on the link to get 2016 memberships takes you to a very, very ancient-style webpage where you’re returned a value that reads “Sorry, the product was not found.”
Anime Expo of Los Angeles is undoubtedly the most respected and biggest American cosplay convention.
Anime Expo could be called the truest face of official Japan-based cosplaying in West. It is backed up by the non-profit trade organization Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (which was founded with the transition of Anime Expo from AnimeCon) and sponsored by anime media stalwarts like Aniplex, FUNimation, and Crunchyroll.
- 100,420 attendees last time; since 1992. Held in Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California, USA. Usually in the first weekend of July.
- Large open spaces, bustling crowds, and finest of the fine photography characterize Anime Expo. There’s professionalism in every bit of this convention.
- AX has a big media coverage and its methods are open. Also, applications are easy to submit and information easy to get.
Website experience: Anime Expo’s website is lovely and offbeat. Clear-cut and to-the-point – the information you need is all there. They have a seriously big documentation separated in multiple webpages and if you’re a good reader you won’t have any queries unanswered.
San Diego Comic Con
San Diego Comic Con, SDCC, Comic Con International, or simply Comic Con, is a wildly loved gathering place of the craziest and most brilliant cosplayers. SDCC has maintained its authoritative aura throughout the years and has become a very respected institution for delivering popular culture output as well as entertainment.
Closely patched up with the biggest symbols of popular culture like DC Comics and anime titles – SDCC is an artistic force. It’s a clean entity with a simple aim to promote popular artforms like comics.
- 1,67,000 attendees last time; since 1970. Held in San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA. 4-day event in the summer time.
- SDCC is a place where encountering celebrities is usual. Robert Downey Jr., Jessica Alba, and Tom Hiddleston were some of the most popular invitees.
- SDCC photography is classic and cosplayers are very experimental and professional. SDCC hosts many legendary groups of professionals from film industry as well as cosplayers.
- Many important announcements are made at this forum.
Website experience: SDCC’s website is flashy, conveys all the necessary information very coherently, as well as gives enough breathing space to not get overwhelmed.
New York Comic Con
New York Comic Con, abbreviated as NYCC, is a glamorous gathering of fans of popular culture, and cosplaying is a big part of it. It won’t be an overestimation to think that NYCC is one of the biggest and most popular cosplay conventions in the world.
- 1,80,000 attendees last time; since 2006. Held in Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York City, New York, USA. Usually held in October.
- The NYCC is known more for its crowd than for its cosplaying. Also, most part of NYCC cosplay is not centered around Japan but American popular culture. It’s natural because it’s based in one of those cities of the world that have an unending popular culture fuel. It’s the home of Spiderman!
- Reconfirming that, there’s not much scope of Japanese merchandising as much as there’s scope for American popular culture merchandising, for example Hasbro’s Toy Fair – which completely focuses on American popular culture like Transformers series.
Website experience: The NYCC website is a poppy piece of modern web design. Full of ads in your face on the front page, one cannot remark that they portray an artist’s mind. Rather, they seem to be fully commercial, driven by strong marketing skills that start showing up right from the beginning glimpses of the colorful website. The information conveyed isn’t very clear-cut but with a little tossing of your attention here and there you should have no problem finding what you’re looking for.
Lucca Comics & Games
Lucca Comics & Games is the Italian hotspot of popular culture based in, well, the city of Lucca. Generally speaking, Lucca Comics & Games is one of the most popular and biggest conventions, bigger than most other conventions. In fact, its attendance is roughly three times more than that of Anime Expo. It’s the biggest comics festival in Europe, and the second biggest in the world after Comiket, courtesy Wikipedia.
Why is it not known as popularly as others is a matter of continental residence. For Europeans it must be the Mecca of popular culture. The reliability of the event cannot be questioned for the event is closely monitored and sponsored by the municipality of the City of Lucca.
- 2,72,000 attendees last time; since 1996. Held in Piazza San Romano, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy. Held in the end of October.
- Lucca Comics & Games is pretty unorganized relative to others, to be precise. But that’s actually a good thing. Groups of cosplayers and professional photographers form co-mingled lines and crowds all over the place.
- LC&G appreciates many artistic works from many eastern countries and is a major attraction in all of Europe. LC&G invites world-renowned personalities linked to popular culture from around the continent.
Website experience: Lucca Comics & Games has a simple website. There’s no English version so you’ll have to translate it by Google or something. Overall, there are well divided sections: Comics, Games, Junior, Music and Cosplay, and Movies.
Japan Expo of Paris, France is a very big institute for showcasing Japanese excellence. Its attendance is gigantic and it works as an all-Europe hotspot, attracting large factions of Japan lovers from around the world.
The Japan Expo logo deserves special mention: It’s just awesome. Perfect blend of clarity and message at all scaling proportions.
- 2,47,473 attendees last time; since 1999. Held in Parc des Expositions de Villepinte, Paris, France. In the beginning of July.
- Japan Expo is one of the most intelligent anime conventions out there. The cosplayers are professional, the merchandising is smart, and the photography is fantastic.
- Costly props, finest lenses in the market, and fearlessly experimental groups of cosplayers are the gem of Japan Expo that keep spiking the attendance charts.
- Japan Expo’s reach is far beyond France. It spreads over multiple continents and has a good fan-following and media coverage in the Far East too.
- The Japan Expo awards are very coveted.
Website experience: This French website is glowing with a good design and a blend of interesting information right away. Coupled with graphics, a large content pool, and a sleek design – you won’t have trouble looking for information. The website is available in English and Japanese besides the default French version.
Comiket, Comike, or Comic Market is arguably the biggest Japanese popular culture get-together, based in Japan. According to official sources,
Excluding private industry showcases such as the Tokyo Motor Show, Comic Market is Japan’s largest indoor public gathering operated by a single private non-governmental group.
Comiket started out as a doushinji market and skyrocketed very high, unlike other competitors. It fleshed out and now it’s much, much more than self-published doushinjis. However, the core idea behind Comiket remains the same – that it’s a doushinji fair. Doushinji are essentially self-published works. The doushinji realm is appreciated for and spearheaded by amateur manga-artists and magazine-publishers.
As Google puts it,
Doujinshi is the Japanese term for self-published works, usually magazines, manga or novels. Dōjinshi are often the work of amateurs, though some professional artists participate as a way to publish material outside the regular industry.
- 5,90,000 attendees last time; since 1975. Held in Tokyo Big Sight, Tokyo, Japan. Held once in summer and once in winter.
- Comiket’s attendance and great experimentation value is uncontested throughout the globe. Spotting Japanese artists and celebrities isn’t hard. At many points photographers line up so devotedly for a certain cosplayer that it feels it’s a photographers’ convention.
- Comiket is known for its fearless and brave cosplayers who are tested and ready to take up any task. It’s in Comiket that one can find the biggest number of talented cosplayers together.
Website experience: No idea at all. The Comiket website is as outdated as tyrannosaurs. On the front page, there’s nothing but the footprints of tasteless 20th-century web design skills. The core PDF which is supposed to familiarize others with Comiket is equally boring – slapped as a new tab link on the front page without any breather. All in all, they should really update the website. Although they update the tidbits frequently, as noticeable by the date stamp – it’s hard to imagine them updating their methods.