What are some fun conventions?
December 11, 2012 1:03 PM   Subscribe

What are some popular "fun" conventions or conferences?

What are some conventions or conferences — maybe like TEDx or ComicCon, etc., — that are maybe either intellectual/education-oriented or fan/entertainment oriented? I am looking at all genres, because I am trying to study the kinds of programming they put together when the audience is there for fun instead of busienss. Little cons, big cons, it doesn't matter! But I need ideas! Thanks Green!
posted by aoleary to Travel & Transportation around United States (20 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
...the audience is there for fun instead of busienss.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Everyone at comics conventions who is not there as a fan is there to do their job, which is usually selling comics, getting exposure for their work or networking with other people in the comics industry to get more work. The reason these cons exist is because content creators make an investment on a rented table, and use it to do business. Every space you see is rented, for upwards of hundreds of dollars. I think a NYCC table is something like $600.
posted by griphus at 1:09 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

SXSW is a good mix of fun and learning, I think, especially with the tech and comedy portions added on.

DragonCon is another massive one, more entertainment focused.
posted by batmonkey at 1:10 PM on December 11, 2012

PAX and PAX East?
posted by Grither at 1:14 PM on December 11, 2012

Hey @griphus, you're right — many of the people at comics conventions are there to do business, but there is also a substantial fan base who want to visit and meet their favorite creators, etc. That's what I'm talking about. Conferences where some of the people attending are just enjoying themselves. Not, like, a dentist's convention where everyone is in the business.
posted by aoleary at 1:15 PM on December 11, 2012

Okay! That makes a lot more sense. In that case, there's the newly-founded GaymerCon, which is shaping up to be interesting.
posted by griphus at 1:16 PM on December 11, 2012

While there are professionally-run fan conventions, many science fiction conventions tend to be volunteer-run. Arisia is one coming up next month if you're in the Boston area.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:19 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

My mid-30s techy nerdy friends love love LOVE Jonathan Coulton's JoCo Cruise Crazy.
posted by amelioration at 1:22 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

There are five bazillion anime conventions, of all sizes. Largest are east coast's Otakon, and west coast's Anime Expo, although the latter is more dual usage (fans for fun, producers for business). Search (state) anime convention in google to get results about whatever region you are interested in.

Also, pick a type of media, a single show, and someone has done a convention for it. Brickfair for legos, Botcon for Transformers, it goes on and on.
posted by zabuni at 1:35 PM on December 11, 2012

For better or worse, more and more non-librarians are attending the American Library Association meetings because of the presence of free books and author appearances.

Also, Book Expo America, nominally for booksellers and people associated with the publishing industry, also attracts the same audience for the same reason. I think you have to pass yourself off as being related to the book industry, but it's pretty easy to call yourself a book blogger.
posted by wsquared at 1:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

How has no one mentioned MaxFunCon yet?
posted by mollymayhem at 1:55 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

TeslaCon is a steampunk convention. There's also QuakeCon and BlizzCon put on for fans of those games, respectively, with lots of competitions and prizes and game playing mixed in with talks.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 2:02 PM on December 11, 2012

The Applied Improvisation Network annual conference is a blast.
posted by salishsea at 2:10 PM on December 11, 2012

There's RollerCon and Northeast Derby Convention, amongst others.....
posted by Lucinda at 3:07 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

A month ago in Vegas, at the Rhumbar in the Mirage, was a niche but fun annual convention for cigar smokers called Big Smoke. (Later in November was the Big Smoke New York.) It's put on by Cigar Aficionado Magazine, and it's a place for regular people to rub shoulders with the cigar makers and other industry giants while sampling new lines and reserve cigars, going to seminars (learn to roll your own!), and getting most of your money's worth in the swag-bag.

There are other cigar industry trade shows that're intended only for business and big press, such as IPCPR, but you might say Big Smoke is intended for promotion to the die-hard fans-- most large cities can throw together a kind of cigar festival as well, but Big Smoke Las Vegas is their king.

Clearly not for everybody, but if you know your Criollo from your Maduro and can tell a Dominican cigar from a Nicaraguan just by standing downwind, well, see you in Vegas.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:45 PM on December 11, 2012

IGFest - the Interesting Games Convention, held annually in Bristol UK. Along similar lines, the events organised by Hide&Seek.
posted by Jabberwocky at 3:55 PM on December 11, 2012

Other thoughts that may or may not apply, depending on where you draw the line between convention and festival:

Tales of the Cocktail
Viva Las Vegas (Referred to among my friends as RockabillyCon)
Punk Rock Bowling
posted by mollymayhem at 4:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am completely and utterly biased (in that I help run the thing), but Small Press Expo may suit what you're looking for. Yes, our exhibitors absolutely want to make money, but plenty just go to happily hang out with friends. It's a big party for everyone -- we try to minimize the lines between guests/exhibitors and attendees. If you're there, we want you there and we want you to have a good time.

Of course, you have to like indie comics. If that's not your thing, you may not find it to be a good fit.

(I got involved because I volunteered one year on a whim and felt entirely welcomed. It was so much fun that I never went away.)
posted by darksong at 6:37 PM on December 11, 2012

Kind of different from a lot of what you're getting here, but the Grace Hopper Celebration is one of the most fun gatherings I've ever been to. It's a conference for women in computer science and other computing professions, and the girl power quotient is insanely high. The sessions are a mix of purely technical topics and "getting along at work/in academia" topics, and the attendees range from high school age CS students to CEOs.

Because women are in high demand as employees in these fields, there's a ton of recruitment and companies spend loads of money putting on events and handing out girly swag like branded scrunchies, nail polish, and chapstick (some see this as offensive, while others are glad because they always forget to bring chapstick to these things). Because most of these women have very few female colleagues, there's a major sense of cameraderie. Everyone is delighted to have to wait in line for the bathroom. Lots of people have been going for years and keep in touch afterwards, and it's a great chance to meet up with friends from school or from other companies who you used to work with. Friday night traditionally ends with a dance and the dance floor is packed until very late at night.

I haven't been to GHC in a couple of years and just writing this is making me sad :(
posted by town of cats at 10:25 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

BGG.Con is a great time, so I hear. I've wanted to go for years. So many board games!
posted by soonertbone at 6:14 AM on December 12, 2012

E.G. fits your bill pretty well.
posted by plinth at 6:34 AM on December 12, 2012

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