New to Comiccons and Conventions

Going to a UK Comiccon for the first time can be exciting bit daunting. There will be guests there who you may want to meet and get autographs from. There may be talks too, where the guests sit on a stage and have a public interview. Finally there are guaranteed to be a lot of stalls selling geeky stuff.

The first Comiccon that we went to was Wigan Comiccon in 2013, hosted by NWCC Events. It was an overwhelming experience for us as people who had never attended a comic con before, but it lead on to us attending many more conventions over the years and enjoying every single one of them.

We have put together a quick guide with advice on how to tackle attending your first convention with things to consider when planning your day.

Before you go

  • Check the weather at the venue location the night before and plan what to wear in the morning. Queuing in bad weather first thing will not be as much fun as you hope it will be. Check again before you set out – it may be nice and sunny where you live, but weather conditions in a different area may be different.
  • Know what time the event opens and plan to be there earlier. You may be there an hour before opening time, but you’ll be more relaxed than if you get there at opening time and can’t find a parking space, or if public transport is running late.
  • If you’re driving there, check online maps to see where the nearest other car parks are. The main car park at the event will already have cars in it – traders, guests, event organisers, staff + other visitors will all be taking up spaces already. Having a potential second or third place to park could be a necessity for a busy event.
  • The queues to meet and get signatures from famous guests will get busy very quickly, meaning the queues for signatures will remain long all day. We would suggest looking at the guest list a few days before the event and making a list of who you would like to meet.
  • Before the day itself research what guest talks are happening. If you want to attend any find out what time they are scheduled for.
  • If timings of talks or signings are made available before the day, make an itinerary. Nothing detailed, just a list of things in the order you want to do them. Talks will run over, queuing to meet guests will take longer then you think, but having that guide will keep you on track to do everything you set out to do.
  • Example of our itinerary:
    Arrive 9 for 10am opening
    10 – 11 Find talk schedule and talk areas, get autograph from *****, ***** + ******,
    Talk at 11:30 so queue up from 11:15
    12:00 to 2:00 shopping + eat lunch
    Talk at 2:15 so queue up from 2
    3:00 to end – get autographs from *****, *******… final shopping

    Tactics at the event

  • Know who you want autographs from – queue up for the more well known guests as early as possible. Their lines will be longer and you don’t want time to run out before you have got their autograph. The less expensive guests queues will be far quicker, so do these towards the end of the day.
  • Try to meet the guests first while the queues are shorter. The stalls will be there until the event closes, but the guests could leave earlier.
  • On the day of the event find out the location of the talk areas. Plan to get to the talks 15-20 minutes before they start so you get a good seat.
  • If you are attending anything at a certain time, like a talk, set an alarm for yourself on your phone / watch to remind you when you need to go. That way you can wander around without continually checking your watch. Setting alarms to remind you when talks and signings are due means takes that pressure off you so you remain in a far less stressed state.
  • Take bags. Not all traders will provide them.
  • Take food. Part of the fun of going to a convention may be enjoying the whole “full day out” thing, but food is generally expensive at events. If you take your own food, it doesn’t stop you buying food while you’re out, it just gives you more options. You can still buy food when you’re there, you just don’t have to eat solely event food at high prices. Variety is good, and spending less money on food means you have more money for goodies.