Cosplaying at a Convention? 7 Ways You’ll Spend Your Time

7 ways to cosplay at a convention

Most of the time, conventions aren’t just for cosplayers. They are events made to celebrate different aspects of nerd culture. But with so many people attending these events in costume, there must be something you can do all day to make the convention a little more interesting.

As a whole, if you cosplay at conventions you will end up spending a lot of time in the halls getting your photo taken. Many cosplayers will also enter competitions or plan meetups with others cosplaying from the same show. Don’t forget to also schedule time for putting your cosplay and makeup on in the morning.

There’s no reason cosplayers can’t also spend their time at the convention the way everyone else does too. Attending panels, watching premier screenings, and getting autographs are also plenty easy to accomplish even when dressed as your favorite character.

1. Getting into your costume

Before you even make it to the convention floor, you’re going to spend more time than you expect just putting your cosplay on. While other con-goers can roll out of bed and head to the convention, you’ll want to make sure you look your best in your costume. 

It’s always best to plan extra time into your schedule to make sure you are dressed to your best, especially if you have an intricate costume or elaborate makeup. If you can, try practicing putting your full cosplay on at home and timing yourself. This way you’ll have a better idea of how much time you need to get into full cosplay the morning of the convention.

This is especially important to consider because the best times for photography at conventions are going to be those morning hours. Not only is the lighting better in the morning than a bright sunny afternoon, but the convention will also be less crowded making it easier to find better locations for an impromptu photoshoot.

Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon
Make sure to choose multiple poses that work for your character.

2. Planned cosplay photoshoots

If you are cosplaying at the convention, it’s also common to set up photoshoots with photographers ahead of time. You spent so much time and care putting your costume together, that you want to make sure you get plenty of good pictures. It’s quite common to see cosplayers and photographers together getting some awesome photos at just about any anime or comic convention.

Even if you are just planning an informal photoshoot with your friends, this is something you’re not going to want to overlook. I recommend setting a specific time and place to meet up with your friends or photographer. It can be surprisingly difficult to try to coordinate everyone’s schedules after they are already out and enjoying the event. 

3. Cosplay competitions

Not all cosplayers compete in competitions, but these are one of the main events at most conventions. You can participate in short skits or have your costume judged to try to win prestige and prizes. The rules for these competitions will vary, so be sure to check out your convention website for more information on the topic.

If you want to compete in these competitions, it can take up a full day of your convention schedule. You’ll have to be ready in-costume in the morning for the judges to look at your costume and rate it based on your skill mastery and overall construction of your costume. Then you’ll have to be available later in the evening for the masquerade event where they will present the costumes and winners.

hot glue
Always bring hot glue with you to the convention for quick and easy repairs.

4. Finishing touches and costume repairs

As much time as we put into our cosplays, you’d think they’d be perfect throughout the convention. Unfortunately, it’s all too common to experience costume mishaps that will require you to retreat to the hotel room and make some quick costume repairs. 

Or maybe, you didn’t quite plan your time correctly and you still need to finish your costume. It’s not uncommon for cosplayers to spend the night in the hotel room gluing on the final touches to their costume so it will be ready to wear the next day.

Because these are pretty common scenarios, I recommend keeping a costume first aid kit with you so you can make quick costume repairs. The most important pieces to include are safety pins and hot glue. Between the two of these, you can fix almost all costume mishaps very quickly. However, it’s also a good idea to include other basic sewing and hair styling supplies so that you are ready for any kind of cosplay emergency.

5. Hall cosplay 

If you’ve never cosplayed before, you might think it couldn’t possibly be fun to stand around in the halls and pose for photos all day. But that’s a good portion of what you’ll be doing at conventions when you cosplay, and you’ll enjoy it. Sometimes you’ll just hang out in one area of the convention for hours at a time and not even notice how much time has gone by.

In fact, this is the part that many people get most excited about. It’s a chance to show off your costume to the entire convention and also connect with people who absolutely love the character and series you’re cosplaying. It’s a relaxing and enjoyable way to experience the convention while you’re wearing your cosplay.

6. Dining out in-costume

Even in-costume, you can’t forget to eat. And what better way to enjoy yourself than to wear your cosplay to a local restaurant. A convention is absolutely the best time to experience this. Since so many people will be cosplaying in the area surrounding the convention, local businesses and restaurants will be more open and accepting of cosplayers, so you won’t feel out of place. Just be extra careful not to spill anything onto your costume!

You can even have fun at fast food places and coffee shops by asking the shopkeeper to use your character name when calling for you. It’s a fun way to immerse yourself into character while cosplaying at a convention.

Final Fantasy IX cosplayers
You can find group photoshoots for all different kinds of cosplay, like this Final Fantasy group I ran into.

7. Meeting up with other cosplayers

When cosplaying from any popular series, it’s common to find large groups of cosplayers from the same series gathered together. Oftentimes, these gatherings are informal and impromptu. People who happen to be cosplaying from the same series stop and chat with each other, and then more cosplayers in the area notice them and the group grows.

Sometimes there are official group gatherings built into the convention schedule as well. Typically these will be photoshoot gatherings where cosplayers from the same series can take photos together. This is particularly common for the series and games that are currently popular, but you’ll also see gathering for an entire sub genre. For example, you find group photoshoots for anyone dressed as a Disney character.

You can check the convention schedule for official gatherings. Otherwise, you might hear about it from word of mouth at the convention. It’s quite common for other cosplayers to pass the word on in the halls for a planned gathering later in the day.

Bonus: Enjoying convention activities

Just because you’re going to a convention in cosplay doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy everything else the event has to offer. There are panels, workshops, autographs, anime screenings, game rooms, and so much more to enjoy. You can als spend your time shopping in the artist alley or dealers room.

Cosplayers can certainly have a unique experience by spending the convention in-costume, but it only expands your options, it doesn’t limit them. If you’re new to these events and not sure when everything is, check out my post going over everything you can do, so you can have a great time at your next convention.

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

Recent Posts