20 Epic Geek Conventions You Need to Visit at Least Once in Your Life

10/16/2018

For geeks, gamers, and self-identified nerds, there's nothing quite like a convention.

Conventions allow us to meet up with like-minded fans who share the same interests and discuss our wild fan theories, hopes, and dreams for our favorite franchises. We can even get to meet the biggest names and creators behind the best geeky media.

There are dozens of conventions around the world, catering to different groups: anime fans, gamers, and comic book geeks. Below, we've highlighted 20 of the very best conventions worth visiting, giving you all of the need-to-know information to start planning your next trip.

Conventions allow us to meet up with like-minded fans

8 Best Gaming Conventions

E3

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, is probably the best-known gaming event in the world. The big three gaming companies, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all use this convention to reveal exclusive games and new consoles, while famous publishers such as EA and Ubisoft host their own E3 events as well.

Originally designed to give members of the press a chance to get hands-on with new games and get scoops for reporting, members of the public have since E3 2017.

Official site: www.e3expo.com/

Location: Los Angeles, California (USA)

Dates: Every year in June

Ticket price: $150 (early bird special) / $250 

Why it's so popular: E3 is an event that combines gaming and geekery with Hollywood as some of the biggest names not just in gaming, but in the world, have been known to attend. It's always chock full of huge announcements too so even if you aren't attending, you'll likely be following everything that goes on at E3 online.

Gamescom

Even bigger than E3 is German-based games convention Gamescom. This annual convention is known as the world's largest gaming event, as it draws in more than a quarter of a million attendees each year.

Gamers from across Europe (and even further afield) converge to play the hottest games and discuss them over currywurst.

Gamescom

Official site: www.gamescom.global/

Location: Cologne, Germany

Dates: Every year in August

Ticket price: 12.50 - 16 Euros per day

Why it's so popular: Gamescom is considered more affordable, and its greater focus on the PC market and the fact that it is explicitly designed with consumers in mind makes it extremely popular.

PAX West

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) events are a series of gaming conventions that take place all over the world. PAX West is in the United States of America and is arguably the most well-known of all of the PAX shows.

First held all the way back in 2004, the creators (who are also the team behind the Penny Arcade webcomic) have spent more than a decade making this a fun event for gamers and geeks to visit.

Official site: west.paxsite.com/

Location: Seattle, Washington (USA)

Dates: End of August to Early September every year

Ticket price: $50 for a one-day pass

Why it's so popular: PAX West features more big gaming reveals (including updates on games announced at Gamescom and E3), talks by developers and tournaments. Explosive Alan's editorial director Dan "MrPointyHead" Maher says that if you're "feeling particularly extravagant," you can't go wrong with PAX West.

EGX

EGX

Previously known as the Eurogamer Expo, EGX is created by Eurogamer - the European video game publication which has been covering games conventions for over a decade. As such, you could say that they have a lot of experience in figuring out what works (and what doesn't) when it comes to throwing a great gaming bash.

There's also EGX Rezzed, which is a more indie-focused games convention which takes place each year in London, England.

Official site: www.egx.net/egx

Location: Birmingham, England

Dates: September every year

Ticket price: £15 - £70

Why it's so popular: Dan Maher explains that "if you're mainly interested in seeing the latest and greatest, [EGX also offers] informative developer sessions, esports tournaments, a career fair, retro gaming, cosplay, and tabletop gaming." This makes it a solid mix of major reveals and more community-focused fun.

ESL One

The ESL One events are a series of esports competitions that take place all around the world. ESL One New York is an event focused on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive while ESL One Cologne attendees will watch people play Dota 2.

There are also ESL One events in Katowice, Genting, Birmingham, and Belo Horizonte.

Official site: en.esl-one.com/

Location: Katowice (Poland), New York (USA), Genting (Malaysia), Birmingham (UK), Belo Horizonte (Brazil), Cologne (Germany)

Dates: Throughout the year

Ticket price: $29 - $169

Why it's so popular: Adam Stevens, the owner of BC-GB Esports, describes the atmosphere at ESL One as "electric." The fact that it lets you see some of the most talented CS:GO and Dota 2 players do what they do best is also a huge draw.

DreamHack

DreamHack is another series of esports-focused events, hosting tournaments for games such as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and StarCraft 2.

DreamHack

More than 300,000 people attend DreamHack events around the world each year, and many more choose to tune in to live streams on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube.

Official site: dreamhack.com/

Location: USA, Sweden, Spain, Canada

Dates: Throughout the year

Ticket price: $30 - $535

Why it's so popular: As mentioned by Adam Stevens, esports events can be a thrilling experience. It's an exhilarating feeling to watch your favorite team secure a clinching victory or watch an underdog take down a popular player. DreamHack lets fans watch that up close. 

Insomnia Gaming Festival

Insomnia Gaming Festival began life as a LAN gaming tournament which would let gamers battle to be the best, but more recently it has grown into a fun-filled gaming convention. A hugely popular event, it prides itself on being the UK's biggest gaming festival.

Official site: insomniagamingfestival.com/

Location: Birmingham, England

Dates: Throughout the year

Ticket price: Pricing varies

Why it's so popular: Dan Maher explains that Insomnia Gaming Festival provides a "vast range of alternative activities to keep you entertained" as well as "an opportunity to forge new friendships, interests and even careers."

Insomnia Gaming Festival

PlayStation Experience

Sony often tends to make major announcements at E3, but for several years now it has also hosted its own PlayStation-specific gaming event called PlayStation Experience.

Held annually at the end of the year, Sony has used the occasion to make surprise reveals and updates on some of its biggest franchises, including The Last of Us.

Official site: www.playstation.com/

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada (USA)

Dates: December every year

Ticket price: $65 - $75

Why it's so popular: PlayStation Experience offers a lot for PlayStation fans including hands-on time with the latest and greatest PlayStation games, developer interview sessions (and the chance to meet those developers), and all of the announcements that Sony makes each year. But it also lets fans of the Sony consoles meet with one another and enthuse about their favorite games, characters and more.

6 Best Anime Conventions

Anime Expo

Anime Expo

Anime Expo (also known as AX) boasts itself as the largest anime convention in North America. With approximately 100,000 anime enthusiasts attending the event each year, including cosplayers and casual fans alike, we think that it has more than earned that right.

Official site: www.anime-expo.org/

Location: Los Angeles, California (USA)

Ticket price: $35 - $80

Dates: July every year

Why it's so popular: Some may call anime a very niche interest as it is typically created in the Japanese language and therefore hasn't easily made it to the West. But the Anime Expo in LA stares down that assumption, allowing anime fans to enjoy the medium together even as many mainstream critics don't understand it.

Otakon

Otakon is to the East Coast what Anime Expo is to the West. The three-day event has been taking place since 1994, letting anime lovers from far and wide share their appreciation for anime as well as the broader scope of Asian pop culture including video games, manga, music, and movies.

Official site: www.otakon.com/

Location: Washington, D.C. (USA)

Ticket price: Subject to change, approx. $75

Dates: August/September every year

Why it's so popular: Otakon offers a wide range of anime-related activities, including retrospectives of anime that aired in the 1980s/90s, there are live musical performances of theme music and soundtracks, and cosplay and dance events.

Jump Festa

Since 1999, the publisher of the Jump anthologies has held Jump Festa, a party allowing people to celebrate their love of all things manga and anime.

While the event is primarily known for its anime announcements, video games and movies are also represented here.

Jump Festa

Official site: www.jumpfesta.com/

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Ticket price: Entry is free

Dates: Third week of December

Why it's so popular: As mentioned, Jump Festa is often home to many major anime announcements including new runs of popular series like Tokyo Ghoul, One Piece, Dragon Ball and My Hero Academia.

AnimeJapan

Bigger still is AnimeJapan, which is actually the largest anime event in all of Japan despite only being created in 2014.

It was created as a merging of the Tokyo International Anime Fair and the Anime Contents Expo, allowing the two teams to put their minds together to host a real blowout of an annual anime event.

Official site: www.anime-japan.jp

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Ticket price: $16 - $500

Dates: March every year

Why it's so popular: AnimeJapan draws some of the biggest companies in the anime industry, including domestic and international companies. They host displays, stage shows, sales, and events, making this one entertaining event for mainstream anime fans in particular.

A-Kon

Both the east and west coasts of the USA have anime conventions, so it's only fair that the south has one too! A-Kon is the longest running anime convention in North America and it draws an attendance of over 30,000 people each year.

Official site: a-kon.com/

Location: Fort Worth, Texas (USA)

Ticket price: $25 - $55

Dates: First week of June every year

Why it's so popular: The south isn't often catered to when it comes to conventions like this, so A-Kon stands out. Attendees also appreciate the chance to see up and coming artists at artists alley as well as community events such as trivia nights, panels, cosplay contests, singalongs and more.

A-Kon

Japan Expo

Aren't able to get to Japan or the USA? Then Japan Expo, which takes place in Europe and is the largest of its kind outside of Japan, may suit you well. Taking place across four days, this massive event is attended by almost a quarter of a million people each year.

Official site: www.japan-expo-paris.com/

Location: Paris, France

Ticket price: 14 Euros - 300 Euros

Dates: July every year

Why it's so popular: European anime fans who can't afford to get to the US or Japan flock to Japan Expo every year. It features idols of Japanese culture including artists and game developers, masterclasses that teach you how to improve your anime creation skills as well as fan-focused events like panels.

6 Best Comic Book Conventions

San Diego Comic-Con

Founded in 1970, San Diego Comic-Con now draws over 150,00 attendees each year and is a huge staple on the gaming, comic book, movie and television promo circuit. There is often a massive waiting list for tickets to get into SDCC due to its popularity.

Official site: www.comic-con.org/

Location: San Diego, California

Ticket price: $42 - $276

Dates: July every year

San Diego Comic-Con

Why it's so popular: Every year, SDCC features major reveals every year and panels with the biggest stars in the business. For example, SDCC 2018 included panels with the casts of Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, Star Trek: Discovery and many, many more.

Comiket

Comiket (or Comic Market) is a "dōjinshi" (self-published works) fair that takes place twice a year in Japan. Despite this sales event starting as a grassroots effort some years ago, it has absolutely ballooned and over 500,000 people attend it each year.

Official site: www.comiket.co.jp/

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Ticket price: $7

Dates: August and December

Why it's so popular: Going to Comiket means the chance to discover little-known works by artists who don't yet have a following. Who wouldn't want to jump on the bandwagon before the bandwagon for that artist is even up and running? 

MCM Comic Con

MCM Comic Con is England's answer to SDCC. It takes place twice a year and focuses on a strong mix of both UK popular culture as well as the popular culture from Japan that has found fans in Europe.

Official site: www.mcmcomiccon.com/

Location: London, UK

Dates: May and October

Ticket price: £17 - £150

Why it's so popular: Dan Maher has a lot of praise for this event because it hits all of the right, geeky spots. Maher is a fan of hybrid conventions and says that "it’s a safe bet to say that if you love video games, you’ll likely enjoy comics, anime, sci-fi, films, cosplay, music or all of the above."

MCM Comic Con

New York Comic Con

First held all the way back in 2006, New York Comic Con is the largest comics convention on the east coast of the USA. It gets almost 200,000 attendees each year, which is a heck of a lot of people gathering to talk about all things sci-fi and geekery.

Official site: www.newyorkcomiccon.com/

Location: New York, USA

Dates: October every year

Ticket price: $12.50 - $50

Why it's so popular: NYCC draws in some of the biggest names in the business. 2018's guests include Lois Lane herself Teri Hatcher, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Danai Gurira of Black Panther and The Walking Dead, Jason Momoa of Aquaman and Game of Thrones, and many more.

Fan Expo Canada

Not one to be left out, the great white north has its own comic convention too in the form of Fan Expo Canada. Attended by more than 130,000 people each year, Canada clearly has a thing for comics.

Official site: www.fanexpocanada.com/

Location: Toronto, Canada

Dates: August to September

Ticket price: $25 - $569

Why it's so popular: Fan Expo is a major stop when it comes to Canadian promo tours meaning that major names like Jason Momoa, Michael J. Fox of Back to the Future fame, and even the cast of Xena: Warrior Princess has shown up.

Oz Comic-Con

Not a Wizard of Oz fan convention, Oz Comic-Con is actually Australia's "premier" comic convention. Australian comic book lovers can attend to discuss cosplay, comics, video, and anime.

It also takes place in several places across the country meaning that you won't necessarily have to travel too far to go.

Oz Comic-Con

Official site: ozcomiccon.com/

Location: Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney Australia

Dates: Throughout the year (depending on location)

Ticket price: $20 - $65

Why it's so popular: Again, this is a major press stop for big international comic productions (including blockbuster comic book movies and TV shows) and so big names are likely to attend, drawing a massive crowd.

Although the geek conventions mentioned are some of the most popular and well-known, they aren't the only ones drawing crowds. Other, up and coming conventions include Foddylympics which is described as an "anti-esports" event by Dan Maher and features unconventional multiplayer games with "players wrestling with nightmarish controls and performing hilariously badly" such as Johan Sebastian Joust and QWOP.

Meanwhile, (Re)Generation Who is a smaller but no less entertaining convention solely focused on Doctor Who. It shows that no matter how much of a niche your geeky interests, there is likely a convention out there for you.