The Winter/Spring Conventions of the Pacific Northwest

20 Jan

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

supers over the PN

Beginning in late January 2014 will be the great Pacific Northwest Convention face-off. Fans of everything geek who think they can attend most of the conventions may well consider this season to be the great pan-pacific drain instead. All that hard earned money will be spent for some interesting goodies and fun times, but as for which cons are worth attending will be based on personal interests.

Fans hoping for another opportunity to get an autograph or photo with their favourite stars can get another chance at another nearby show. For example, Cassandra Peterson, Stan Lee and Bruce Campbell most likely have contracts for the 2014 year with organizations like Hobbystar Entertainment and similar businesses like Heroes for Hire or Creation Con to appear at more shows to bring fans in. So, the chances are good to see them at another con, if people are willing to travel farther to get their nerd on.

Online purchasing of tickets are available for all these shows, and here is a rundown of the contenders and what they offer:

Large-Scale:

Wizard World Portland
(Jan 24-26)
Portland, Oregon

Anyone who’s everyone in the convention tour circuit will be at this popular culture mecca. Entertainers like William Shatner, Stan Lee, Bruce Campbell, Adam West and Burt Ward are scheduled to attend. Wizard Entertainment operates this event and they grew from a once simple magazine (Wizard: The Magazine of Comics, Entertainment and Pop Culture) to become a huge name in the industry, second that to the San Diego Comic Con.

Although this show is less about the people (a fan-run event by fans for fans) and more about the money, sometimes beggars cannot be choosers in what is considered a “convention.” At least fandom has a place to congregate.

VIP access and day passes available.

Adam West and Burt Ward were the Guests of Honour at ECCC '13.

Adam West and Burt Ward were
the guests of honor at ECCC ’13.

Emerald City Comicon
(March 28-20)
Seattle, Washington

This show may well turn into the San Diego of the Pacific Northwest with its ever growing roster of pop culture related panels and guests. This show is half comics and half entertainment.

Unique panels and events are offered outside of the show so fans can get a 24/7 fix of everything geeky. If they are willing to hunt, the convention floor also offers video games and RPGs to enjoy. Not everything is going to be buried in the exhibit hall. ECCC-goers are best advised to study the map to find the hidden gems.

VIP access (if you buy early) and day passes are available in limited quantities at the door.

Norwescon
Apr 17 – 20
Seattle, Washington

Born in 1978, this convention is for all the science fiction and fantasy nerds out there. It is one of the largest shows out there that caters to this speciality market, and the focus is not on Hollywood. Instead, the literary and social aspect is played up. Since 1984, this event has played host to the Philip K. Dick Award.

Day passes are not available. This convention asks fans to buy a membership for an all-access pass.

Sakura Con
(April 18-20)
Seattle, Washington

Sadly, this show conflicts with what’s going on north of the border, and that will leave some regular con-goers divided over which show is more attractive to attend. Fans have to decide if it’s North American pop culture versus Japanese pop culture that they want. For Japanophiles, Sakuracon usually hosts special evening events like a J-pop concert, cosplay and the odd special screening. The benefit here is that Seattle has entertainment within the downtown and convention core whereas in Vancouver, it is more spread out.

All weekend pass only.
One day pass unavailable since 2012.
[Sorry, but I feel this change is a bad move. -Ed.]

Fan Expo Entry

Waiting in line is never fun, but
that’s part of the convention
experience at Fan Expo Vancouver.

Fan Expo Vancouver
(April 18-20)
Vancouver, British Columbia

This newcomer to the region will be hosting its third show in the metropolis known as Vancouver, British Columbia. Thankfully the company has previous experience with Fan Expo Toronto but is it enough to attract fans? Shopping it up in a carnival atmosphere, interacting with local tv celebs n voice talent and getting spooktacular with Rue Morgue’s Festival of Fear are at the heart of what makes this event great. The Rue Morgue team has plans to expand this year, and news will be forthcoming as it’s announced.

Day passes available and limited tickets at the door.

Anime Oasis Compile
(May 23-26)
Boise, Idaho

Not many regional conventions offers four days of anime-goodness under one roof, and in Boise, Idaho this show may well be worth checking out. Very little is known about this show as it’s in a state that usually gets passed by. This list would be remiss if this convention was not mentioned.

Full Weekend and day passes available.

Small Scale Events
(i.e. Victoria, British Columbia Exclusives)

Gottacon
(Feb 28 – Mar 1)

This little engine that could, can and will surpass expectations since it is growing into a new space. Previous years saw this event hosted at the Pearkes Recreation Centre, but this year has the support of the city of Victoria and the local video gaming industry to bring it to the Victoria Conference Centre.

This show spotlights every aspect of gaming that a person can imagine. From board games to video games, that gambit does not stop there. There’s role-playing, miniatures and more! This year may well look different with many local video game developers exhibiting their wares.

Day Passes and Weekend Passes available. Tournaments requires entry fee.

Tsukino-Con
(Feb 14-16)

This little known anime convention run on the University of Victoria campus is hardly mini at all. At heart, the organizers (most of which are members of the Uvic Japanese Animation Club) are creating a true fan-based convention that has most of the anime enthusiasts in Victoria gathering to have fun, enjoy discussions, watch the latest in anime and learn what the best in Japanese culture has to offer. The only question is why are the other anime clubs in this garden city not involved?

Day Passes available.

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