List of the Biggest Anime Conventions in North America

Want to attend one of the biggest anime conventions in the US and North America? Stick around as we share a list of some great ones you can go to.

Japan’s animation industry goes far beyond the small island country. While the industry continues to have a huge following at home, its global reach and popularity are not confined to one nation or region alone.

Today, there is no denying that anime’s increasing fanbase overseas knows no bounds. With the love for anime remaining stronger than ever before, it’s no wonder that numerous anime conventions have popped up all over the world – including North America.

From gaming, pop culture icons, characters, and a sense of community, these meets heavily attract newbies and fans alike for their passion for Japanese animation.

If you happen to be in North America you are in luck. We have compiled a list of the biggest anime conventions in the area to suit your tastes and personality.

Ready to dive in? Let’s take a look.

What are Anime Conventions?

For those who are just starting out and navigating this new world, you might not be familiar with the concept of conventions.

As with other similar events, an anime convention is a meetup or a massive event where activities are anime-centric. They are normally held in convention centers and hotels over a number of days.

Individuals who typically attend these meetups are those who are passionate about and fascinated by Japanese culture.

Their interests include animated characters, manga, anime, and the culture and tradition of Japan as seen through these iconic creations.

Biggest Anime Conventions in North America

Now that you know what these gatherings are all about, it’s time to find an event near you. Who knows, you might just be able to join one soon! Below are the best of the best that draw in crowds by the thousands.

  • Anime Expo

Right at the top of our list is perhaps one of the biggest anime conventions, if not the largest in the whole of North America.

Spread out over a five-day affair, this celebration brings together people’s love for Japanese culture in Downtown Los Angeles.

With a series of concerts, panels, gaming, and signature events, you’re guaranteed to never get bored.

This year, the event will take place from July 2 to 5, with an additional pre-show night on July 1, 2020. From cosplay to manga and everything in between, this extravaganza has it all and more. Just a note: prepare yourself to brave the crowds.

It draws about 100,000 people per year.

  • Anime North

The people in Canada certainly know how to celebrate their love for all things Japan, especially during this event. Anime North is held yearly in Toronto, Ontario.

Happening from May 22-24 this year, the event promises a lot of fun and excitement for all attendees.

From panels, workshops, surprise guests, games, music, and more, you’ll have a weekend of endless fun and discovery with fellow enthusiasts.

What sets this apart are the special events it hosts: a Lolita-themed tea party, a nocturne café where you’ll be showered with attention and other secret events.

The most popular and highly anticipated event is the Super Extreme Anime Wrestling. Here, cosplayers who dress up as their favorite character will wrestle against one another. Stay tuned.

  • Anime Central

Happening in the Midwest, Anime Central is considered the biggest anime and manga convention in the region.

Apart from guests and performers from the likes of OLDCODEX, Riho Iida, FUNA, Rie Tanaka, and many others, the event also offers a wide range of activities.

In addition to notable personalities in the field, ACen also brings together a video game room, an exhibit hall, concerts, dances, and panels with industry experts and guests.

Workshops, and of course, autograph sessions, will also be observed. This event will run from May 15 to 17, 2020.

  • A-Kon

Not to be confused with the singer/rapper, A-Kon is a yearly gathering in Dallas, Texas. This year, the event will take place from May 21-24, 2020 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

The oldest anime convention in the United States, attending this event will surely allow you to take a piece of history wherever you go.

While the usual gaming, dancing, and concert activities will be observed, there are also other exciting lineups for participants.

Prepare for a visually stunning art show, autograph sessions, cosplay contests, and even fashion shows. Expect around 30,000 people to come.

  • Otakon

Founded in 1994, Otakon is an annual event that celebrates Asian pop culture. At the center of its festivities is anime, together with manga, video games, music, films, and other defining activities.

This year is no exception. If you are in the nation’s capital or happen to be near Washington D.C., it’s worth visiting Otakon 2020 from July 1 to August 2.

Different from other anime conventions, Otakon has a maid café, a gaming hall, cosplay, lip-sync, and a panel.

Of course, you should attend panels and other activities, especially when the likes of Takahiro Izutani and Manai Matsumae will grace the event.

What You Need to Know When Attending

Here are important tips to follow when attending an anime convention for the first time.

  • Budget Wisely

To sustain these non-profit organizations and huge events, attendees need to pay their way through conventions. This means purchasing tickets for the day or for the whole event. Prepare for this in advance and you might be able to score a discounted ticket during the pre-selling period.

Moreover, it’s also advised that you allocate some funds for spending.

While you may be committed to saving all your cash and walking away from the dealers and exhibits, chances are you’ll be walking away from these stalls with your hands full.

Whether it’s a poster, a keychain, or even figurines of your favorite animated characters, you know that spending is inevitable at these meetups.

To avoid spending too much, make sure to set aside some money. Likewise, it’s best to make a full trip around the exhibit to see which items you like the most.

  • Be Flexible

In these gatherings, planning is key. With a barrage of activities happening left and right, it’s quite impossible for you to be at many places at the same time.

Don’t beat yourself up over this.

Instead, pick your non-negotiables and work your way around them.

This approach will allow you some sort of flexibility. Pick one or two major events to attend within the day: a panel, a concert, or even an autograph signing.

Once you have chosen these events, select some smaller activities to do – such as visiting cafes, taking photos, and going around the exhibit.

  • Stay Safe

With people’s love for any and all things anime, you can expect thousands of people to come to these meetups.

To stay safe, especially if you’re going by yourself, prepare for emergencies. This means having a survival bag of sorts – with contents consisting of water, snacks, a change of clothes, chargers, batteries, and medicine if needed.

Should you cosplay during the event, bear in mind that these events draw large crowds. Because of this, choose or make ‘weapons’ or clothing designs that will not accidentally cause harm to anyone, including yourself.

The Bottom Line

Visit these biggest anime conventions in North America and you will find a community that will welcome you with open arms. From learning more about the industry to finding new friends, there are definitely many reasons to go to these cons.

Which of these are you interested in?

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