How Long Do Anime Conventions Last?

If you’re getting ready to head to your first anime or comic convention, you might be anxiously searching the internet for all the answers to your questions. Everything from what stuff to do at conventions, who to cosplay, how to get there, and even how long the convention will last.

Most anime conventions will last from Friday morning through Sunday afternoon. Some larger conventions start on Thursday and last until Sunday and some small conventions last only one day.

You’ll need to check the website for the specific days and hours of the anime convention near you. They usually have the information posted front and center on the homepage. As the convention approaches, they’ll even start to have information about the schedule of events and programming that will take place.

How long do anime conventions last?

Most anime conventions are meant to be weekend affairs. The venue will open at some point on Friday morning or afternoon and it will remain open until Sunday afternoon. If the convention takes place in a convention center, it will usually close overnight, but conventions held in hotels are often 24-hour conventions and will remain open and maintain minimal programming throughout the night.

Usually, for these conventions, people will stay in hotels in the area to make it easy to walk back and forth to the convention center all weekend. However, there are also people who will commute back and forth to the convention if they happen to live in the general vicinity.

While most conventions last Friday through Sunday, there are some exceptions for very large conventions and very small conventions. The smallest conventions will only be one-day affairs, usually a Saturday or Sunday. These will typically be conventions put on by local anime or comic groups, or conventions that are just getting started.

Large conventions are often extended an extra day, lasting from Thursday through Sunday. The most popular conventions, like San Diego Comic-Con, follow this pattern. Some will only have programming on Thursday nights since that’s when many attendees will begin arriving at their hotels.

Do you have to attend every day of the anime convention?

You don’t have to attend the entire weekend to be able to go to an anime convention. It’s not too uncommon for people who work on Fridays to only attend on Saturday and Sunday. If you can only go one day, that’s perfectly okay too. If you only have one day to go to a convention, I recommend going on Saturday. This is the day that will have the most programming and the craziest cosplays so you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

Most conventions will allow you to buy single-day tickets, but not every convention. You will have to check the policies on the particular website to know for sure. Typically, if you purchase tickets for the full weekend, you will receive a significant discount, so it’s often worth it to buy the full three-day pass even if you’ll only be attending for two days. 

Some conventions won’t sell single-day tickets, but each day the price of the ticket will be reduced. So the cost of buying a ticket at the door will be maximum on Friday, then reduced on Saturday, and reduced again if you purchase it on Sunday. Other conventions will only sell single-day tickets at the door, so you have to wait in the long registration line.

What to expect each day of an anime convention

The best way to know what to expect at your local anime convention is to check out the programming schedule for your specific event. Usually, this comes out about a week before the actual convention, so you can check it out and look for the screenings and panels you want to attend. However, even without looking at the schedule, most anime conventions follow the same pattern of events.

Thursday pre-show

For the conventions that have programming on Thursday, you can usually expect some kind of pre-show on the evening before. Large conventions, like SDCC, will have full programming the full day, but most others only start in the evening. For people who registered ahead of time, this is a chance to pick up your badge and enjoy a more laid-back day at the convention before all the thousands of attendees show up.

Friday registration line and evening programming

Friday is typically characterized by registration lines and thin programming in the morning. If you’re going to a large convention, you may have to expect to stand in line for a couple of hours before you can actually get into the event area.

The convention staff is aware of this and tends not to schedule anything major until the later afternoon or evening on Friday, but there will still be workshops, panels, and anime screenings in the morning. Most anime conventions I’ve been to include a Friday night dance or rave as well.

Saturday main events

Almost all the main events of a convention will take place on Saturday. This includes cosplay contests, concerts, premiere screenings, and so much more. You also tend to see the most intricate cosplays on Saturdays as you’re walking around the convention. If you can only attend an anime convention on one day of the weekend, I recommend Saturday.

Sunday wrap up

Sunday doesn’t typically have much programming. There will be some anime screenings and panels in the morning with the closing ceremonies in the early afternoon. People will spend the morning packing up and leaving the hotels by checkout time. This also tends to be a big shopping day in the dealers and artist rooms since many you’re more likely to find deals and discounts on Sundays.

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.

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