Downtown Atlanta was visited by aliens, monsters, fairies, zombies, steampunks and more when the annual Dragon*con Sci Fi and Fantasy Convention took over several city blocks over the holiday weekend. This popular event, which has been hosted by our city for 25+ years, has expanded to five host hotels — the Hyatt Regency, the Marriott Marquis, the Hilton, the Sheraton and the Westin. Attendees, many of whom are in costumes, fill the surrounding blocks about 40,000 strong.
Convention Chariman, Pat Henry, said in 2010′s documentary, “Four Days at Dragon*con” that they sell about 35,000 tickets for the weekend. However, the event draws many more who have not bought tickets, just to capture photos or a glimpse of the spectacle, and there are no ways to calculate that total number.
Saturday morning kicks off with a parade up Peachtree Street, consisting mostly of costumed guests, along with a few of the celebrities and bands. No ticket is required to see the parade, and thousands pack the sidewalks to cheer on their favorite characters. (This highly-recommended feature always takes place at 10:00 a.m. on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend is and worth putting on your calendar for next year right now.)
One of the biggest draws of the weekend are big names from film, TV, books, art, comics and illustration. Fans had opportunities to meet and greet with Star Trek’s Nichelle Nicols and Jonathan Frakes, Star Wars’ David Prowse, Batman’s Adam West and Burt Ward, The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson, Comic Legend Stan Lee and MacGyver’s Richard Dean Anderson, just to name a few.
There’s far more to do and see at Dragon*con than any one person could do in a weekend, so con-goers plan their time using a schedule book, or the new Dragon*con App for their smartphone. Getting into a panel that features a big star can block out a hour or more of one’s time just standing in a line that wraps around the block.
Events are scheduled literally around the clock. Depending on when one is comfortable being awake, one can find something to attend, including costume contests, masquerades, formal balls, classes, a film festival and even a midnight drum circle. However, much time is spent by thousands just hanging out in the hotel lobby bars, watching the festivities and simply enjoying the camaraderie.
Watch this video by Deena Roth and Tommy Byrd that sums up fan’s joy of Dragon*con:
The entire staff of Dragoncon will take a very deserved week or so off, but shortly, the clock on dragoncon.org will start counting down to next year’s event. Follow that site for discounted early-bird tickets and lists of what and who to expect in 2013!
For an index of all the articles published on the Daily Dragon over the weekend, click here.