San Diego Comic Con (this year held from July 19 to 22), is the international celebration of all things comic books, which has grown from humble beginnings to become one of the largest global events for comic book fans.
People travel from all over the world to say they’ve attended San Diego Comic Con. Comic book fans clearly love the opportunity to mix and mingle with other enthusiasts, to gather and discuss their favorite heroes and storylines, and to meet and greet with the heavyweights of the industry. That got us thinking.
If they’ll travel from the far corners of the Earth to meet in San Diego, what other events should diehard comic book fans put on their bucket list?
Surely SDCC can’t be the only event worth traveling for. And it’s not! We found at least 19 other events comic book fans should seriously consider putting on their “to visit” list. The experiences listed here are world-class events, attracting huge crowds. Most of them are geared toward comic books in particular, so this is by no means a definitive list of the best celebrations of geek culture. Nonetheless, if you love comic books, you’ll probably love each and every one of these amazing events.
20 San Diego Comic Con Is The Crown Jewel Of The Convention Circuit
Let’s start with the best known comic convention in the world. San Diego Comic Con started in 1970 and just kept growing.
Today, more than 200,000 people attend annually.
The city had to expand its convention center just to accommodate the sheer number of people who arrive every July. SDCC has it all, from the comics that founded it to movies, cosplay, and video games today.
Perhaps one of the biggest attractions is industry involvement. SDCC draws stars for panels and signings, and there are often major announcements and special screenings for fans. The word “exclusive” is bandied about a lot here. Since getting in to SDCC can be a trick, having been is a mark of honor.
19 London Loves Comics Too
You don’t need to stay in the United States to show your appreciation of comic books and attend amazing events. Comic book fans are scattered all around the globe, and they love to congregate.
That’s why you’ll find more than 100,000 comic book fans descending on London, UK, for MCM London. This is the UK’s answer to the comic cons of the US, and they pull out all the stops. In fact, MCM London happens not once, but twice a year. As it continues to grow, it’s attracted more industry attention. It’s now one of the prime destinations across the pond for comic book publishers and Hollywood studios hoping to reach some of their British and European fans.
18 Lucca Serves As An Amazing Backdrop For This Italian Convention
The small town of Lucca, in the Tuscany region of Italy, is mostly noted for its Renaissance charm. For comic book fans, it’s known as the home of the biggest comics festival in all of Europe.
The simply named Lucca Comics & Games has been estimated to attract around 250,000 people, rivaling San Diego's attendance numbers.
The festival usually takes place at the end of October. In recent years, it’s added manga, film, TV, animation, and cosplay to its offerings. It’s also hosted major events, such as the Italian premier of Thor: The Dark World. It makes an amazing travel destination for comic book fans!
17 Houston Is Home To Comicpalooza
Everything is bigger in Texas. Comicpalooza, which takes place in Houston, may not have the largest attendance figures, but it certainly has a large presence on the comic book events scene in the Southern United States. The convention has evolved into a multi-genre event, weaving together the worlds of comics, gaming, movies, anime, and sports. It also attracts some fairly big-name guests.
Past guests have included Chuck Norris, and in 2018, the line-up included Jeri Ryan, Lavar Burton, and Peter Mayhew. Tom Holland was the headline attraction, and the latest friendly neighborhood Spider-Man wowed the crowds and delighted fans during meet-n-greets and other appearances.
16 WonderCon Puts The Focus On Comics
Many of the conventions on this list are considered multi-genre, in that they program for geeks of all walks. Whether you love the MCU or the classic comics or you’re more a fan of Japanese manga, you’ll find something for you at an event like San Diego Comic Con.
WonderCon departs from this formula. Over the course of 30-plus years, this convention has made comic books front and center. And although the convention is now part of the SDCC family, it still caters to 60,000 comic book fans each year. More recently, it’s become a favored industry event for making comic book movie announcements.
15 Dragon*Con Is An Atlanta Institution
Every Labor Day weekend since 1987, Atlanta has been home to Dragon*Con.
Each year, the convention welcomes nearly 100,000 fans representing every geeky niche, genre, and subculture imaginable.
The convention has always been about this “meeting” of fantasy genres, welcoming everyone and everything from the superheroes from the pages of comic books to wrestlers in the ring. One of the most spectacular events is the convention’s very own parade, which features fans like you decked out in their finest cosplay. Whether you like the steampunk aesthetic or prefer to become the night as Batman, you’ll feel right at home at Dragon*Con.
14 Welcome To South America’s Biggest Fan Event
Comic-Con Experience Brazil, or CCXP, is similar in size and scope to its American counterpart, SDCC. South America’s largest fan event runs the gamut from comics to toys to video games, and everything in between. It’s fannish heaven in Sao Paulo for 4 days every December.
CCXP has become a hotspot for industry insiders and promoters hoping to engage with South American fans, especially as they rally to promote holiday releases and mid-season TV premieres. It’s also great timing for fans from the Northern Hemisphere, since the convention circuit tends to get much quieter at the end of the year. A trip to CCXP could be one of the best geeky presents you ever gift yourself.
13 Welcome To The World’s Largest Comic Market - Comiket
Fans of Western comic books may not see much appeal in Japan’s Comiket event at first, but there’s something to be said for the experience of attending the world’s largest comics market. The event was launched in 1975, and has been going strong ever since. It’s held twice annually, once in August and once in December.
The name “Comiket” is a portmanteau of the words “comic” and “market,” and that’s just what this is.
It attracts more than 500,000 people, many of whom are interested in doujinshi, or fan comics. You might find beautiful artwork, a fan story that would never be told in mainstream comics, or a rare collectors’ item here.
12 Visit Any of the Wizard World Cons
The Wizard World conventions have made a name for themselves on the convention circuit. Many of the events attract nearly 60,000 people.
With shows in Austin, Boise, Tulsa, Sacramento, Montgomery, and Madison, there are plenty of events to choose from throughout the year.
The big one, of course, is Wizard World Chicago. The Chicago event attracts all sorts of major players from the comic book industry, including artists, writers, and other celebrities. Vendors also bring some of their rare merchandise for an enthusiastic crowd of collectors. The convention itself is held in Rosemont, Illinois, but you can still make time to see the sights of the Windy City if you make the trek to this convention.
11 This Brazilian 'FIQ' Festival Is So Big, It Only Happens Once Every Two Years
The Festival Internacional de Quadrinhos, or FIQ for short, is a bi-annual convention held in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
It’s considered to be one of the largest comic conventions not just in Brazil or in South America, but anywhere in the Americas.
It’s such a heavy-hitting con that it’s only held every other year. The most recent event was in May and June 2018, so you’ll need to wait to 2020 to attend this epic event. The convention currently draws around 150,000 people, along with a star-studded list of celebrity appearances. A second convention, the Encontro Lady’s Comics, was introduced in recent years.
10 Angouleme International Comics Festival Is The Second Largest In Europe
Only Lucca Comics & Games beats out the annual comics festival in Angouleme, France.
Founded in 1974 by two French culture ministers and a comics scholar, the convention now draws 200,000-plus people to the city of 50,000.
Unlike other conventions, Angouleme has kept its focus on print comics. It also serves as a rights market, selling translation rights for graphic novels from around the world so fans can enjoy them in other languages.
Angouleme is certainly off the beaten path for most travelers, but it should be a bucket-list destination for comic book fans. The festival takes place every January, so you may want to make sure your cosplay is winterized.
9 Fans Meet Their Heroes At FanExpo Canada In Toronto
FanExpo Canada is the largest geeky gathering in the Great White North, attracting around 150,000 people each and every year. It also draws in its fair share of celebrities, with everyone from Nathan Fillion, Jason Isaacs, and Stan Lee himself having appeared. The 2018 roster includes Jason Momoa and Jeff Goldblum, among others.
Toronto, which plays host to the convention every September, is also the filming location for a large number of Hollywood movies and TV series, including many comic adaptations. Seek out film locations from movies like Suicide Squad and X-Men to make your cosplay photos all the more authentic.
8 Amsterdam’s Comic Con Is Small, But Growing
Amsterdam has long been an appealing travel destination for many groups of people, such as cyclists. Recently, Amsterdam Comic Con has turned the famed Dutch capital into a European geek hotspot. Each year, attendees from across the continent and around the world arrive to celebrate 2 days of fun and fandom.
Amsterdam is an amazing location for a vacation. Plan your trip in late August and cap it off with this European Comic Con experience, or start things with a bang by attending the convention the first weekend of September, then kicking back and relaxing for the last days of summer.
7 Head Down Under For Oz Comic Con
Skip San Diego, and organize yourself a geeky Australian tour instead. The Oz Comic Con experience can take you to 3 different Australian cities. You can pick from Brisbane and Sydney in late September, or plan to visit Melbourne in early June. In the past, the convention also visited Perth and Adelaide.
Oz Comic Con is one of the largest and best events for comic fans down under. If you’ve been wanting to visit Australia for some time, you can combine your love of comics and some globetrotting. You won’t be disappointed with the decision, as you’ll have a chance to meet some of your favorite stars before lounging on the beach.
6 Western Canada Serves Up Comic Book Fun In Calgary
FanExpo Canada might be the reigning monarch of the Canadian convention scene, but Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo is poised to give them a run for their money in the next few years. The relatively young convention drew more than 100,000 people in 2015, and it’s already spawned 2 spinoff conventions in Edmonton and Saskatoon. For people living in western Canada or along the border in the western United States, this is good news. It also showcases the growing popularity of comic books and all things geeky across the continent and around the world. The show takes place annually in April.
5 Baltimore Comic-Con Is A Staple Of The Convention Circuit
Taking place in Maryland’s capital city each September, Baltimore Comic-Con bills itself as the world’s greatest comic convention. While that might seem like a lofty title, this convention truly tries to deliver.
Now going into its 19th year, Baltimore Comic Con is by no means the largest in the US. Instead, it prides itself on being a lower-key alternative to high-energy events like SDCC.
Part of its ongoing appeal for fans is its strict focus on the comic book industry. It also functions as an awards show for the industry itself, meaning the convention continues to attract some of the major names in comics.
4 You Had A Good Chance Of Meeting Stan Lee At Beyond Fest LA Expo
If it ever seemed strange to you that San Diego has a massive fan event, but LA didn’t, you weren’t alone. In 2011, 3 fans took it upon themselves to create Comikaze. In 2012, POW! Entertainment bought the show and rebranded it as Stan Lee’s Comikaze.
Until 2017, the show was hosted by Stan Lee himself, even after it rebranded to Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con.
In 2018, the show ended its partnership with POW! Entertainment, changing its name to Beyond Fest Expo LA.
In its short life, Comikaze has quickly been established as a premiere geek culture event. It’s likely to continue growing, and we wouldn’t count guest appearance by Mr. Lee out just yet.
3 Salt Lake’s Convention Was So Popular, It Happened Twice A Year
When it started, Salt Lake Comic Con was a bit like MCM London, in that organizers had been putting on a show twice a year. Recently, however, the convention has switched to a two-day annual format, with the next event coming up in September 2018.
It’s quite surprising to see the growth of this convention, which was started just 5 years ago in 2013. Since then, it’s become absolutely renowned. The convention has had its share of controversies, but it’s managed to keep running and attracting some of the biggest guests in the industry.
If you love comics, fantasy, or science fiction, this is the place for you.
2 New York’s Comic Con Brings Superhero Authenticity
New York Comic Con may not be quite as large as the San Diego convention, but it’s still one of the best out there for comic book fans. After all, many superheroes are based in New York or another East Coast city, which means NYCC brings the colorful world of comics to life. Spider-Man cosplayers look perfectly at home here.
Many establishments in and around the city get in on the action during the week leading up to the convention, dubbed “Super Week.”
More than 100 events take place across 25 different venues. Businesses like the Turkey’s Nest Tavern, which masquerades as Josie’s in DareDevil, serve up fannish fun for attendees who arrive early. Other geeky landmarks abound.
1 MegaCon Lives Up To Its Name
MegaCon takes place in Orlando, Florida, and it ably fills one of the largest convention centers in the US. The convention tackles all of the usual genres, including comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming. MegaCon also attracts some guests with mega star power.
The 2017 guest list puts this on display: Stan Lee, Norman Reedus, Alice Cooper, and Tim Curry were all in attendance. If you’re a movie buff, a Star Wars fan, or a Marvel fan, you can also plan a visit to nearby Disney World or Universal Studios. That is, if the con isn’t enough magic for you!
If you missed the Orlando version of the con, there’s also a Tampa Bay edition taking place in September 2018.
References: SyfyWire.com, Matador Network, Skyscanner, Overmental.com, Intellitix