This year’s Dragon Con attracted 65,000 fans to Atlanta to attend what some viewed as the “true return” of the convention after last year’s scaled-down event. While numbers still didn’t reach peak attendance- which many were grateful for- this year’s con schedule offered something to do practically any hour of the day from start to finish.
This abundance of options can have even an experienced congoer missing out on something they would’ve loved to do, especially when some are not your typical con events that most people know to look for. To give you some ideas for next year’s con, here are five Dragon Con activities you may not know about!
1: Cosplay Photoshoot Meetups
While themed cosplay meetups at conventions are nothing new or exclusive to Dragon Con, the meetups here are on a whole other level. Every day, large groups of cosplayers from different factions of fandom descended on the Hilton’s balcony steps for massive, free group photoshoots. Beyond being a neat spectacle and an opportunity to have your cosplay photographed, these meetups connect cosplayers with loads of people with similar interests and are a great place to make new friends!
2: Swag & Seek (Free Stuff!)
One hallmark that sets Dragon Con apart is Swag & Seek, an event that has both a scheduled meetup time and carries on throughout the course of the con at every hotel.
The more formal part of Swag & Seek involves a large gathering where folks gift or exchange trinkets with others; many artists hand out their own creations, but generally any swag is welcome.
The spirit of Swag & Seek has taken over the convention, as swag can also be found loosely hidden in planters or left on tables in high-traffic areas in all host hotels during the entire con, particularly on Wednesday night before it kicks off and on Monday afternoon as people try to reduce their luggage load. Common prizes include rubber ducks, stickers, bead crafts, and 3D-printed charms.
For many, giving and hiding swag is as much fun as receiving and finding! And it’s a great way to give a new home to those random goodies every nerd acquires over the years.
3: Fandom Sing-alongs
Getting into some of the more raucous activities available, we get the party started with Firefly Drinking Songs on Friday evening. You’ll want to line up well in advance but the wait is worth it to experience an hour of live music- both original songs and parody covers inspired by Firefly and Serenity. You’ll be able to view the lyrics online, and the pub-shanty style of the songs makes them very easy and fun to follow along with. If you really REALLY love the songs, they have CDs!
There are sing-along events for other fandoms and themes from sea shanties to cats, and BYOB is encouraged…unless it’s the Hilton. Shh.
4: Dances and Raves
Later still into the night, you’ll find multiple dance parties of varying scale. While most are fandom-themed and you will see folks cosplaying according to the theme, there aren’t any dress codes or theme requirements at any of the ones we visited. Crowdpleaser favorites included Ten Forward and the Heroes and Villains Ball with DJs playing popular songs from the 70s to now that got everyone moving and singing along.
The rave at the Marriott on Saturday night turned things up to 11 with a light show and live dancers on stage. This particular event may not be for those who haven’t been to a rave as it’s a whole different animal than the dance parties; the line to get in circles around the building, and once inside the noise level and flashing lights + low visibility may be overwhelming for first-timers who’d rather hear top 100 hits and still be able to talk to their friends.
Whichever party style you prefer, they’re a great way to blow off energy and meet new people without the aspect of conversation.
We wrap this list with one of the last big events on the schedule- concerts. After three years away, including missing last year’s con, The Cruxshadows returned to their role as a Dragon Con tradition to close out Sunday night. With an opening act by I: Scintilla, the show delivered two hours of heavy rocking before everyone had to return to reality the next day.
We hope this list gives you some ideas for planning your next- or first- trip to Dragon con. Did you check out any of these events? What’s your can’t-miss Dragon Con experience? Tell us in the comments and on social media.