Right so, a few outstanding com reviews from 2015, which I really should sit down and get done so lets get started with the last con of last year, which for me was Otafest Aurora which is held in SAIT polytechnic in Calgary, Canada.
This con had a different approach with a gala dinner on the Friday and the main convention on the Saturday. To start with let’s talk about the gala dinner. I have never been to a gala before, let alone a cosplay gala dinner so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The dinner was a great event and sitting at a table with other cosplayers was a good chance for me to be able to meet the local cosplayers. The dinner consisted of a three course meal, which we had to go to a serving area for, and a dance after. It seemed to be the main opening of the event as an MC and a nerdy string quartet did their bit before we could eat. During the dance portion the DJ had arranged for games such as interpretive dance, while wearing a t-shirt stuffed with balloons. Yes, it was very strange. If you didn’t want to dance then there was the option to do a scavenger hunt, which involved items such as collecting cosplay cards and taking photos with some Disney princesses. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I am really glad I went.
Otafest Aurora itself is actually a very small con held in a large and beautiful venue. If I were to compare it to an English convention I would probably compare it size-wise to London Anime and Gaming con. Having said that, I enjoyed Otafest Aurora much more than I enjoy LAGC. I think the main draw for me was not only my friends but the location. The huge glass windows on one side of the building Otafest Aurora is in meant there was loads of natural light filling the convention hall. Several floors meant that panel rooms and workshops were spread out all over the building, which sometimes made it difficult to find panels and guests.
Otafest Aurora also had a great little schedule of guests and panels with photography talks from the local photographers to in depth sewing panels from Joshua Hart. They seemed to have rooms to cover every aspect of cosplay from repair stations, weapons checks and even a photo room where there were two photo booths and a team of photographers ready to take your picture. I think the photo room was one of my favourite areas. They had a plain backdrop for more formal photos and a more decorative backdrop with chairs, stands and instruments you could use as props! As photos were taken they not only got displayed in the room on a projector but they also went live on the Facebook page as they were taken.
Despite this the con was a really lovely little convention with plenty of wonderful photo locations and friendly people. Seriously, Canadians are freakishly nice. I think there is something wrong with them. With the convention also being during term time while the uni was still in use, the students seemed to have a great deal of patience with cosplayers running around all over the place, even if we did get some funny looks. If anyone is ever in the are for Otafest Aurora I would highly recommend going, just make sure you wear your warmer cosplays because wearing a skimpy costume in below freezing temperatures is not fun. Especially when you are surrounded by Canadians who are used to the weather and call you a wimpy Brit. Did I mention that Canadians are really nice?