Going to a convention isn’t the only thing you can do while wearing your favorite cosplay. If you love this hobby that much, there are so many ways you can incorporate your costume into your daily life. Whether it be planning a get-together with your friends, or going for a stroll in the park, there are so many ways to enjoy cosplaying away from the crowded conventions. If you want to wear cosplay outside of a convention, look no further than your own backyard.
In reality, there are very few rules about what you can do in cosplay. As long as you’re fully covered, not carrying anything that looks dangerous, and pay attention to the rules of the places you visit (e.g. no cosplay at Disney World), then you can have fun in whatever ways you want.
1. Go to a movie
People have been cosplaying to the movies for a long time. Especially when it comes to premiere showings of new movies within the popular fandoms. While it’s not necessarily normal to see cosplayers at the movie theatre, it’s probably one of the most common places outside of conventions.
If you have a favorite Marvel character, don’t be afraid to put on your costume and cosplay to the next movie. You’ll probably even find other fans at the movie who want to take your picture. The same goes for more obscure fandoms too. There’s no reason you can’t cosplay as your favorite character from a book that’s getting a movie. I’m still hoping for the day the Wheel of Time book series finally gets some love so I can cosplay as Egwene to the theatre.
2. Go to a restaurant
Putting your costume on and going out to eat is a fun way to make your night out more interesting. You can wear cosplay and go eat your character’s favorite cuisine, or you can wear your cosplay to a place where the character is completely out of their world. Either way, it’s a quirky little experiment that makes even fast food a little more fun.
Of course, you’ll want to be careful to make sure you don’t spill anything onto your costume. I’m kind of clumsy, so I always stay away from anything that has tomato sauce, and I’m very careful to keep my drinks away from the edge of the table.
If you don’t want to go out to a restaurant, you can always cook something at home while cosplaying. If your character loves eating sweet treats, try baking a batch of cookies and enjoying them fresh out of the oven. You could even make a special baking apron for your cosplay to keep the costume from getting messy.
3. Go for a hike
If you like characters from adventure series, why not go on a real adventure by taking a hike. Many characters wear comfortable enough outfits to take a hike through nature a lot of fun. For example, the hobbits from Lord of the Rings would be easy to wear out on a hike. This is also an excellent photo opportunity. You can find the best places for getting immersive pictures with your character, without worrying about people or buildings photobombing the background.
Of course, you want to make sure you wear appropriate shoes when you hike. I know cosplay is not known for being rational about footwear, but this is one of the occasions where comfort is much more important than costume accuracy.
If you don’t want to go for an all-out hike, a simple walk in the park is an easy compromise. Of course, a walk in the park is much more public. So, if you’re self-conscious about wearing a costume in front of other people, you might want to try cosplaying in a more secluded area first while you gain more confidence.
4. Have a cosplay sleepover
There is no reason you can’t cosplay in your own home. Invite a friend or two over and dress up in pajama versions of your characters. You can be kids again and have fun with a cosplay-themed slumber party. You can all cosplay as characters from the same series or have a free for all with a mish-mash of characters from completely different genres.
It doesn’t have to be a sleepover either. You can arrange a fun cosplay party (it doesn’t just have to be on Halloween). It can even be fun to have a cute tea party in the backyard with some close friends.
The best part of having these kinds of cosplay get-togethers is that you don’t have to feel self-conscious. Since you’re not cosplaying in public, only you and your friends will know about your cosplay. If that’s something that makes you feel uncomfortable, this is an excellent way to have fun cosplaying outside of the public eye.
5. Take your dog for a walk
Why not bring cosplay into the more mundane parts of your life too. Every once in a while, try putting on your favorite costume when you go to take a walk around the block. It’s one way to make the day just a little bit more interesting for you and your neighbors.
You can even create matching outfits for your dog to wear. Dress up your dog as Toothless and take him for a walk while wearing your Hiccup costume (or Astrid, if you prefer). Or maybe make your dog your superhero sidekick while the two of you go and patrol the neighborhood. You can do this with your other pets too. Take pictures with your cat, rabbit, guinea pig, or snake while they are wearing matching costumes.
6. Plan a cosplay birthday party
You can bring cosplay to the special occasions in your life too. Why not have a cosplay-themed birthday party this year? This is an easy way to get your friends interested in your hobby. Even if you don’t go all-out like you would for a convention, a birthday cosplay party is a fun, casual way to appreciate cosplay.
You can even go as far as to plan a cosplay wedding (with your partner’s agreement, of course). Plan fancy costumes for your bridesmaids and groomsmen, while you and your partner are the main characters. You can even invite your wedding guests to attend in cosplay if they want to.
If you have friends or family members that are interested in cosplay, just about any holiday can be an excuse for cosplaying together. Obviously, there’s Halloween, but you can also have an in-character ugly Christmas sweater get-together, or you can have a cosplay date night for Valentine’s day. Be creative and you’ll find countless occasions to put on your favorite costumes.
7. Cosplay tabletop gaming sessions
If you’re someone who’s interested in D&D or other types of role-playing games, why not have a campaign where everyone cosplays as their own character? Even if it’s not for every session, you can still have the occasional game where everyone comes in costume. Cosplay is a great way to add another dimension to the game and help you feel a little more in-character.
Not sure how to create a costume for your own original character? Learn how to think about the types of clothing, material, and props your character would have. You can take your character’s personality, social class, and fighting style into account when bringing them to life for cosplay.
8. Arrange a cosplay sports day
With all the sports anime that exist out there, it would be a shame if no one ever organized a cosplay sports tournament. It can just be you and a couple friends playing against each other at the local basketball court, or playing volleyball with a net set up in the backyard. You can have a lot of fun cosplaying a character while playing their sport.
Even if you’re not athletically inclined, this gives you a chance to get active and try out an activity that you might not have ever participated in before. Just make sure to wash you costume afterwards because it’s sure to get dirty and sweaty.
9. Learn how to play a musical instrument
Are you ever amazed at the talented pianists and musicians in anime? Maybe this is a chance for you to pick up an instrument and learn how to play. You can practice your character’s favorite songs and play in cosplay when you feel confident enough. Even if your character doesn’t play an instrument, they might have beautiful theme music that you want to learn how to play. Use your love for anime as your inspiration to learn a new skill.
If you don’t want to invest in a guitar, keyboard, or another instrument, you could also learn to sing along with your character. There are many anime that exhibit characters who have beautiful singing voices. Train your voice and learn how to sing their signature songs so you can perform them in costume.
10. Dress up as your niece/nephew’s favorite character
If you have any young siblings, nieces, or nephews (or your friends do), you can make their day by cosplaying as their favorite character from their favorite movie. Maybe you’ll be a Disney princess or the newest Pokemon adventurer to surprise the child in your life. Even better if you can take the time to create a costume for them to wear with you.
You could even show up to the kid’s birthday party or pick them up from school to show off in front of all their friends. You might even get asked to take photos with all of the other kids who are fans of the same show.
11. Cosplay to a Renaissance festival
Renaissance festivals are common in the US, typically taking place over the summer or in the fall. They are places where people will dress up in clothing from medieval periods of history and shop at stalls selling medieval-inspired clothing and accessories (and food!). Many characters would fit right into this setting, such as Zelda characters (I’ve seen so many Link cosplayers at Renn Faire) or Game of Thrones characters. You can also create Renaissance-inspired versions of characters who don’t have the correct clothing style.
It’s also not too out of the ordinary to see people dressed up as characters that aren’t right for the time. When I lived in Maryland, the Renaissance festival that I went to even reserved the last day of the season as the Day of Wrong. A day where they encourage people to come dressed in inappropriate clothing for the renaissance, which often includes cosplaying as out-of-place characters.
The most common reason for cosplaying outside of a convention is for a photoshoot. Really, any of these ideas that I’ve mentioned above can be excellent photo opportunities. If you decide to cook in-character, have one of your friends photograph the occasion for some beautiful domestic pictures. Going for a hike? Bring a camera and tripod with you to snap some perfect photos.
By arranging photoshoots outside of a convention, you can choose a location that is perfect for your character. Rather than being limited by the architecture around the convention location, you can go anywhere. Do a photoshoot with a fairy in the forest or a mermaid on the beach. You can find hidden gem places all around the world that are absolutely perfect for a cosplay photoshoot.
Conventions are often crowded, and the best locations for photoshoots are hard to get unless you’re ready early in the morning. If you want the best photos for your cosplay, you’ll want to arrange some time with a photographer outside of the convention or learn how to take self-portraits with a tripod, camera, and timer.
Just remember that if you are going to any private property, you will have to get permission to take photos, and they may charge a fee. You and your photographer can work out the best location based on what you need for your character.