Held at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland, Katsucon always falls on the weekend following Valentine’s Day. The weather can be pretty unpredictable. 2017 saw attendees outside having photoshoots and picnics. 2018 wasn’t as warm, but warm enough in-between rain and light snow to not worry about travel. Regardless of the unpredictable weather conditions, Katsucon is known for being a cosplayer’s haven for photoshoots and meetups. Katsu is held in both the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center. Festivities go on until way into the night and some continue well into the next day.
So what is Katsucon like for a first-time attendee? Is it overwhelming? Can attendees find enough content to enjoy the convention? Is it a party? Read on!
What To Do At The Con
In terms of the con itself, Katsucon has all of your standards: Artist’s Alley, Dealer’s Room, Gaming, Panels, Workshops, Anime Music Videos, Hall Costume Contest, and the Masquerade. The official programming for the convention is held in the Gaylord National Convention Center.
Throughout the years, official Katsucon programming has started early as 5 in the morning and continued until well after midnight. Panels and workshops vary in topic. There are discussions about specific anime and workshops about fashion. Attendees can attend panels that explain how to make your own cosplay, props, and more.
Katsucon attendees also facilitate some of the programming. Like other anime conventions, fan-run panels discuss specific topics. For example, there are panels about anime pairings, fanfiction, Kpop and Jpop dance lessons, etc. There is a little bit of something for everyone throughout the weekend.
Late night hosts many 18+ panels, dances and masquerades, music video and anime viewing sessions, and gaming which goes on until 2 or 3 in the morning.
There is a connecting hallway between the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center. Attendees do not need to leave the convention space to go to these unofficial events. As a result, Katsucon has a reputation of being a “24/7 con.” This means that attendees can find something to do all weekend, including unofficial events.fdd
Late night hosts a good mix of official and non-official programming. For example, there were many dance workshops and interactive panels Saturday night. At the same time, there were various pajama parties and dance parties held in various locations.
As previously stated, there are plenty of unofficial events along with the official convention programming during Katsucon. Many attendees host photo shoots, cosplay and fandom meetups, pajama parties, dance parties, card and board game parties, video game tournaments, and more.
Having quick and easy access to the hotel makes it easy for attendees to host parties throughout the hotel side of the Gaylord. Upon walking around, it is easy to spot a group of cosplayers gathered in a hallway playing different games and chatting. It is also not uncommon to find someone carrying a Bluetooth speaker with music playing for nearby con-goers to dance to.
The Hotel & Infamous Gazebo
The white gazebo located at the Gaylord Hotel is synonymous with Katsucon. Many photoshoots and meetups are held at the gazebo. Due to the huge wall of windows of the Gaylord, natural light floods in which is perfect for photography.
The Gaylord also features beautiful scenery on the hotel side. Restaurants look like little houses. Various levels of the hotel have trees. A water fountain glows with multiple colors depending on the day. Even the floor and doorways have beautiful detail to work with. These areas become very heavily populated. It can become difficult to walk through due to the crowds of cosplayers and photographers.
Many of the aforementioned dance parties are also held in front of the gazebo. Thursday and Friday nights had a DJ and cosplayers with Bluetooth speakers playing music. Guests danced and danced until well after 4 in the morning.
Dining isn’t hard to find at the Gaylord. And with dining comes drinking. Many of the restaurants do serve alcohol, including the National Pastime Sports Bar and Grill. 2018 featured Pokémon themed drinks to go with the convention. Guests also bring their own food and drinks; that is something to keep in mind at Katsucon. Food, drinks, alcohol, and snacks are easy to find at the convention and definitely liven up the party atmosphere.
Question: Does Katsucon have a party atmosphere?
Answer: Absolutely. However, guests do not need to partake if they choose not to.
Hotel rooms do include Silence Curtains to keep the lobby level noise to a minimum when guests attempt to sleep.
Lobby Con At The Hotel
An issue in 2018 was “ghosters,” or lobby con guests. These are people that only stay in the hotel without paying for a Katsucon badge. This means those guests cannot attend any official Katsucon programming as they did not pay for it. Instead, they stay in the Gaylord Hotel and participate in non-official events causing overcrowding. Walking around took much longer than it normally would. Hallways were filled with people. Lines were long. Even finding an area to take a photo was difficult.
Because Katsucon has such a party vibe, many guests do not buy a badge. They go with the intention of partying, or getting photos of their cosplay at the hotel, or having fun with friends, or all of the above. This is what fills up space at the hotel. It causes it difficulty in calculating how many people actually attended the convention. Staff can count how many badges were sold, but because there are so many guests without badges, it is hard to get a true number of attendees.
For 2019, Katsucon made an announcement that will ban lobby conning. All who attend Katsucon will need to provide either a Katsucon badge or Gaylord room key to prove they are allowed to be at the National Resort.
Katsucon & Cosplay
Katsucon is heaven for cosplayers. From the picturesque Gaylord Hotel to the iconic waterview and Ferris Wheel just outside, photo options are endless. Many guests bring their A-game for their best photos of the year.
Take a look at some of the wonderful cosplayers we bumped into throughout our stay!
Aside from individual, private photoshoots, Katsucon hosts many official and non-official cosplay meetups. Katsucon staff coordinate official meetup locations and times. Staff designates where official meetups are held. Cosplayers coordinate non-official meetups without staff. There is no designated time or location set for non-official meetups; cosplayers can decide amongst themselves.
Katsucon is also perfect for group cosplay. Cosplayers will band together to try and create groups of characters from a single series to take photos together. Having so many characters from the same show at such an iconic venue provides gorgeous results.
So … Should You Go?
It depends what you are looking for. If you want to see an amazing display of cosplay, this con is for you. The panels are incredibly entertaining and vary in subject; there is something for everyone. The Dealer’s Room and Artist’s Alley are just like any other con; if you enjoy wandering the aisles and looking for new merch and artwork, I’d recommend checking out Katsu’s offerings. If you are looking for guests, then Katsucon may not be for you. There are other conventions that focus on anime and cultural guests that attendees expect.
The con truly does run 24/7. There is something happening at all hours from Thursday to Sunday. If that type of atmosphere does not sound appealing to you, I would lean toward a different con. Many people complain about the cosplayers and photographers taking up space. If you do not plan on cosplaying, I would recommend taking a hard look at the programming to see if the event will still have enough for you to enjoy. The 2017 and 2016 Katsucon Programming Guides are still available to take a look at on Guidebook for your reference.
If you are a con-goer that likes to have fun, that likes to try something new, and that likes what they’ve heard about Katsucon: I would recommend going! It’s exhausting, but it is an experience. Be sure to go with friends, or if you travel alone, be sure you have friends in attendance.
Rizuki’s First Katsu
Katsucon 2018 was my very first time attending. It was my first time participating in such large meetups and photoshoots. It was also my first time having my own private photoshoots — people traveled miles to do that here! I had never stayed at a hotel that was directly connected to the event. This made changing cosplay so easy. If I was hungry or needed a nap, I could easily just go upstairs to refresh. There was never a reason to leave the Gaylord.
I traveled by myself and stayed in a room with 7 other people I did not know. I ended the weekend with 7 new friends that shared pizza, muffins, makeup tips, and Yuri!!! On Ice hentai with me. I met many cosplayers and received so many tips on how to help improve my sewing and my poses for photos. I danced with strangers to my favorite Kpop hits and shared drinks with fellow attendees while watching the Winter Olympics at the bar (congratulations to the king, Yuzuru Hanyu!)
During the entire weekend, I maybe slept a total of six hours. However, I got to see so many of my friends and met so many new ones. Katsucon is the one convention that the majority of my friends go to. To be able to spend an entire weekend with them was a blast. It’s a wonderful vacation, party, and convention all wrapped into one.
Approach Katsucon with an open mind. Cosplay gatherings, various panels, and meetups are all coordinated via Facebook Events for easy locating. This will help provide an insight as to what is to come
Katsucon can absolutely be exhausting and overwhelming. However, the moment I had to leave, I knew I wanted to return.
Hope to see you in 2019!
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