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Cool Cosplay, Art Displays & Other Reasons to Attend Otakon 2019 in Washington, DC

Cool Cosplay, Art Displays and Other Reasons to Attend Otakon in Washington, DC

Check out the city’s celebrated annual anime event set to take over the convention center, July 26-28

Otakon is held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center from July 26-28, and just might be the dedicated event space’s liveliest function (emphasis on FUN) all year long. The family-friendly convention is run by and dedicated to fans of Asian media, entertainment and pop culture, including anime, manga, music, movies and video games. The festivities range from cosplay contests, skits and live music to panel discussions with comic book (super)heroes, for-sale artworks and more.

Instead of offering tickets, Otakon sells memberships at different levels for entry to the three-day spectacle. Memberships help fund Otakorp, the non-profit that operates Otakon and is completely volunteer-run. Options include single-day trial memberships starting at $40 or a $95 full weekend membership. Children 8 and under can enter free with a registered adult.

Are you ready to go all out in the name of anime? Here’s why you should plan on telling your friends, "Let's GO-takon!"

1 Partake in people-watching or don your own costume

Otakon anime festival at the Washington Convention Center - The best things to do in Washington, DC

The best part of Otakon is the cosplay. For many attendees, the convention serves as the coming-out party for a year spent designing a complex costume and flaunting it in character for the amusement of their peers (if not the Hall Costume Contest). Many cosplayers rep the latest Japanese webcomics, animated TV shows, light novels and other media and are kind and quick to bring you up to speed, so don’t be afraid to ask about their outfit or pose beside them in a picture. You also won’t want to miss cosplayers in action at the Masquerade on Saturday night, which features two- to four-minute-long skits on stage.

2 Listen to live music, from classic video game concerts to dance parties

Otakon anime and cosplay festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center - Events in Washington, DC

Friday night will feature a performance by Bradio, a funk-rock trio that has been featured on numerous video game soundtracks and at festivals around the world. Saturday showcases a tribute to Nujabes, one of Japan's most beloved DJs whose work was often featured in anime. Numerous artists will perform in honor of the producer who passed away in 2010. On Sunday, YouTube sensation nano and Japanese singing competition winner Diana Garnet will take to the stage to cap off the weekend. After leaving their large costume props at the hotel, attendees converge on the Otakurave DJ party on Friday and Saturday nights for a lively, thumping affair rife with glow sticks, elaborate dance moves and bass-filled remixes.

3 Pick up a keepsake or collectible at two different marketplaces

Art marketplace at Otakon anime and cosplay festival in Washington, DC

Many attendees marvel at incredible for-sale works on display in Artists’ Alley, where fan-made creations are sold. Browse the aisles for anime-inspired prints and plushies, and don’t be afraid to strike up a convo with digitally savvy artists selling their works. Hardcore collectors will want to head straight for the Dealers’ Room, where they spend their fortunes on manga, comics, action figures, books and other official merchandise.

4 Play video games for fun or in a tournament

Video game tournament at Otakon in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center - Anime and cosplay festival in Washington, DC

Gambling is to casinos as gaming is to Video Gaming Hall. One of the most popular parts of Otakon is gaming, and there’s an experience for every type of gamer, from the novice to the nostalgic and the serious competitor to the early adopter. Work up a sweat while high-stepping to Dance Dance Revolution or take Chun-Li to the championship in Street Fighter V. The game arcade is open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Competitors can sign up for tournaments, participate in the Kaiju Super Battle League to take on Battle Masters and test their skills as Pokémon Trainers and enjoy live-action role playing throughout the weekend.

5 Attend interesting panels, presentations and other programming

Otakon anime and cosplay festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center - Events in Washington, DC

Even if you aren’t an anime or magna expert, you still might find some interesting content at Otakon. The event features panel discussions led by entertainers, experts and fans, creating a come-one, come-all atmosphere. The guest list is packed with leading figures in the industry, from composer Eric Roth to leading voice actors and actresses like Richard Epcar and Kari Wahlgren to directors Hiroyuki Imaishi and Hiromi Wakabayashi. Otakon also rocks awesome themed events like the Super Art Fight, which challenges creators to put together the zaniest works possible, even utilizing a crowd-sourced "Wheel of Death" to spurn the teams into crazy competition.

6 Soak up the friendly vibe with fun-loving cosplayers and volunteer staffers

Otakon anime festival at the Washington Convention Center - The best things to do in Washington, DC

Otakon is all about meeting people, making friends and having a memorable time together. The staff works hard to put on Otakon – and remember, none of them are paid to do so. Bring an open mind and great attitude, and you’ll enjoy great vibes all weekend long. Pro tip: You can easily make someone’s day by telling them how great their costume looks – or simply by saying thank you to any of the volunteers. Pick up your Otakon membership now.

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