Ah, spring. It’s a time for snow when there should be budding flowers and new love. It’s more likely we’ll get seventy feet of snow and dozens of conventions on the East coast!
It can be tough to suss out the good ones, especially if you haven’t been to them yet. So, we thought we would handpick some from all different areas of nerd culture that are worth checking out!
New York Antiquarian Book Fair: March 7-10
Got a hankering for some rare books? Like, you better have some dust-free, climate-controlled cases for the rare books in question? This convention features dozens of booths overflowing with books and related texts that date as far back as the fifteenth century! Some of the books, like the signed James Joyces and Jules Vernes, can fetch hefty prices, but many booths offer a variety of texts, some of which do fall into somewhat reasonable ranges. Even if you can’t afford the books, it’s worth going for the love of them, as well as for the chance to see how the ultra-rich live their weird, weird lives.
This convention is held at the Park Avenue Armory Building in New York City. Daily admission to the fair is $25, and $10 for students who have ID. A pass for the run of the show is $45.
The Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair: March 9
Although the space at this fair is much more limited than at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, the Manhattan Village Book & Ephemera Fair showrunners consider it the Antiquarian Book Fair’s rival, gleefully referring to the Book & Ephemera Fair as the “anti-Antiquarian Book Fair.” It’s true, the air here is much more relaxed, and the vendors tend to be a little more open with potential customers. Rare books and other items like vintage movie posters and film are available for up-close-and-personal review with supervision—getting to flip through a book signed by Oscar Wilde at this fair in 2017 is always going to be a special moment for me.
This fair takes place in the basement of St. Vincent Ferrer in Manhattan, right across the street from the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. Daily admission is $15 for adults, anyone from 13-21 gets in for $7 a day, and anyone under 13 goes in for free with a paid adult.
Big Apple Comic Con: March 9-10
Although this convention is physically smaller than others because of its location, its bursting at the seams with vendors and impressive guests—this year William Shatner and Ramona Fradon are among them. The convention stretches out over three floors and uses the space creatively, although it can feel a little cramped and probably isn’t the one you want to wear an unwieldly cosplay to. This convention has, in the past, focused more on Western media (especially retro items), though there are normally a couple booths that specialize in anime goods.
The Big Apple Comic Con takes place at the Penn Plaza Pavilion in New York City, which is incredibly convenient if you’re travelling to the city by a train that will stop at Penn Station, which is basically just across the street. There are many different ticket packages available for this convention. You can check them all out here.
PAX East: March 28-31
If you’re into gaming, you’ve got to hit PAX East! There are tons of hands-on experiences with video games, tabletop games, card games, and basically any other form of game you could come up with. There are also plenty of panels, musical performances, and tournaments, as well. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, there is something for absolutely everyone here. Of course, this convention is huge, so if you have never attended a convention before, it may be something of an overwhelming experience. It’s hard to believe that the PAX conventions originated as conventions for a webcomic!
PAX East takes place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in—surprise! —Boston, Massachusetts. Single-day passes are all that are left to purchase at this time, and are basically $57 across the board, unless you choose to get additional merchandise. Saturday tickets have sold out already.
MoCCA Arts Festival: April 6-7
MoCCA Fest gives local creators an opportunity to share their art with the public, which comes in all forms—posters, stickers, comics, clothing, you name it! This convention runs the gamut from beginners to seasoned illustrators like Art Spiegelman and Bill Plympton selling work and meeting fans. I’ve yet to meet an unfriendly vendor here, and many vendors return year after year and remember repeat customers—and love catching up with them! You can’t beat a community like that. Many art schools in New York also use this opportunity to show off student work and disseminate information about their programs, so this is a great place to go if you’re shopping for colleges. The event is also sponsored by companies like Wacom, so there are opportunities to try out new art tech as well.
Passes are either ten dollars per day or $18 for a weekend pass. Passes will get you into the event and into special programming events that are associated with the festival. MOCCA Fest’s vendors can be found at Metropolitan West in New York City, with panels and other programming taking place at Ink48, right nearby.
Anime Boston: April 19-21
Anime Boston is one of the biggest anime conventions in New England. It’s also been running for sixteen years, so you can count on a smoothly-running event even as you wander through myriads of vendors, panels, guest meets, and cosplay and AMV (anime music video) contests. The guest list is also always very impressive, even featuring popular J-pop bands for musical features, though there aren’t too many listed on its website for this year yet.
Tickets can be bought online here, though tickets will also be available for an increased price at the door. Unfortunately, Anime Boston falls on Easter weekend this year, as it usually does, although there is a small chapel in the Hynes Convention Center for observing attendees.
East Coast Comicon: May 17-19
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Some of the ASTOUNDING competitors in yesterday’s #eastcoastcomicon #cosplay #competition! Congratulations to all of our insanely #talented winners and we’ll see you next year! On a more serious note, our team heard that people were unsure as to whether they would be able to compete with their hand-crafted weapons. This year, and every year moving forward, all of our cosplayers are able to check their weapons at security, and retrieve them for the #contest! TAG YOURSELF! #cosplay #cosplayersofinstagram #cosplayers #cosplays #cosplaying
Just a relatively short trip away from Manhattan is the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey, where the East Coast Comicon is held. This con specializes in Western works, though guests run from ultra-mainstream to arthouse creators who don’t make it a point to visit too many cons. This con seems to have something for everyone, no matter how niche your tastes are. This convention has grown rapidly through its seven years of existence.
It is recommended that tickets to this convention are bought ahead of time, and you’ll certainly save some money if you do so. A nice little plus to this convention, for those of you that will be driving in, is that attendees to the East Coast Comicon get free parking at the exposition center.
So, are there any cons on this list that you regularly attend, or any that you think we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below! And if these are on your hit lists this spring, keep your eyes peeled–you may catch some n3 staff wandering the floor too!