If you've ever wanted to dress up as Batman or Harley Quinn and mingle with fellow cosplayers in full garb (and why wouldn't you want to?), don't worry, you're not alone. There's a convention for that -- several, in fact -- along with conventions for all levels of nerdery, places you can go and get your geek on with fellow science-fiction fanatics, movie buffs, or whatever it is you're into.
Don't like dressing up? That's okay, not all conventions are about costumes and makeup. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), for example, is a bona fide gadget-fest that just happens to be located in Las Vegas, as if you needed another reason to visit Sin City. The point is, there are all kinds of conventions out there, and we highly encourage you to get out of the house and attend one. To help you plan your itinerary for the coming year, we've put together a gallery of 20 conventions, in chronological order, that you should attend at least once in your lifetime if you get a chance.
Have you gone to any of these conventions? Which ones would you like to go to? Let us know in the comments!
Emerald City Comicon, March 1-3, 2013
If you live in the Seattle, Washington area and like comic books, you owe it to yourself to attend the Emerald City Comicon. You'll find everything from discussion panels to celebrity signings, and even prize drawings. You might even spot a Storm Trooper.
Cebit, March 5-9, 2013
Friends, forget any silly chatter about the post-PC era. Conventions like Cebit prove that PCs are still very much relevant. It's one of two expos in this gallery that takes place in Germany (Gamescom is the other).
PAX East, March 22-24, 2013
The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) saw such phenomenal growth since its inauguration that it now takes place in three locations. PAX East is held in Boston and is well worth a visit if you're into PC gaming (aren't we all?). Feel free to dress up in garb like these guys.
Game Developers Conference (GDC), March 25-29, 2013
Billed as the largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event, GDC is packed with over 22,500 attendees each year. It features hundreds of lectures, panels, tutorials, and round-table discussions.
WonderCon, March 29-31, 2013
If you want to be the first to see the world premiere of Superman Unbound, this is where you need to be. It's also a great resource for scoring back issues of comics and autographs from your favorite comic book artists.
Star Trek Convention, April 26-28, 2013
An easy way to score a million geek cred points is to attend an official Star Trek convention, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so. The next one takes place in late April in Philadelphia, while several others run throughout the year in different parts of the country.
Maker Faire, May 18-19, 2013
The ultimate show-and-tell, Maker Faire is a gathering of curious and intelligent people obsessed with the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement, and it's appropriate for all ages. If you can't make it to the event in San Francisco, there's another one in New York (World Maker Faire) that runs September 21-22.
FanimeCon, May 24-27, 2013
This is Northern California's largest anime convention, and one of the ten largest in all the land. Last year's event recorded over 21,000 attendees! It's filled with music, games, karaoke, tournaments, and more. Celebrity guests have been known to attend.
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), June 11-13, 2013
E3 is THE place to catch the inside scoop on computer and console games. At this year's convention, attendees are likely to spy first looks at Microsoft's Xbox 720 and Sony's PlayStation 4 hardware.
California Extreme, July 13-14, 2013
Sadly, today's teen generation will never understand the thrill of bringing a pocketful of quarters to the local arcade. Fortunately, the spirit of arcade gaming lives on at California Extreme, a two-day event filled with classic arcade games. As a primer, watch The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.
San Diego Comic-Con International, July 18-21, 2013
Now going on its 44th year, Comic-Con is the country's longest continuously-run comics and popular art convention. More than just comics, it's also a great place to spy never-before-seen previews of upcoming films.
DefCon, August 1-4, 2013
Matthew Broderick nearly started a nuclear war by accidentally hacking a military supercomputer in WarGames, which is where the term Defcon actually comes from. The convention focuses on hacking and hosts various contests, like lockpicking and a scavenger hunt.
QuakeCon, August 2-5, 2013
Thousands of gamers from around the world attend this free, BYOC (bring your own computer) event, which is really like a huge LAN party. All levels of gamers are welcome, and it's worth it just to see some of the case mods.
Gamescom, August 21-25, 2013
Going on only in its fifth year, Gamescom attracted 275,000 visitors and 600 exhibitors from 40 countries in 2012. Unfortunately for U.S. residents, Gamescom takes place in Germany, though it's not uncommon for game publishers to live stream their press conferences from the event.
Dragon*Con, August 30-September 2, 2013
There's a little bit of something for everyone at Dragon*Con, which focuses on science fiction, fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film. The convention continues to grow each year, to the point where it may have to consider capping attendance (no such plans are in place for 2013).
PAX Prime, August 31-September 2, 2013
Like PAX East, PAX Prime celebrates the gamer, only it's held in Seattle, Washington rather than Boston, Massachusetts (and also at different times of the year). Registration isn't yet available, but will open up in the Spring.
Tokyo Game Show (TGS), September 20-23, 2013
If you happen to be Tokyo in late September, consider dropping by the Tokyo Game Show, which is a video game expo mainly focused on Japanese games. The general public is allowed to attend the final two days, and yes, cosplay is in full effect.
GeekGirlCon, October 19-20, 2014
Lest we overlook the fairer sex, GeekGirlCon is a celebration of women contributing to science and technology, comics, game design, and all corners of geek culture. Everyone is welcome to attend, just leave the pick-up lines at home.
Consumer Electronics Show (CES), January 7-10, 2014
Getting into CES isn't easy for pedestrians (it's mainly intended for members of the press and exhibitors), but if you do ever get a chance to go, you'll be treated to gadgets galore and cutting edge products. This past CES, for example, we spent hands-on time with Nvidia's Project Shield and spied a potential Steam Box.
Live and breathe Linux? Then Penguicon is the place to be, though date and location have yet to be announced. It's a weekend long event with hotel room parties, sci-fi chatter, singing, cosplay, and FREE caffeine and snacks!