From the furthest convention, to the closest.
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Dates & Locations
July 11-12, 2020
May 30-31, 2020
May 1-2, 2020
Birmingham Hilton Metropole
The NEC Birmingham, Pendigo Way, Marston Green, Birmingham B40 1PP, United Kingdom
Myth & Magic
April 17-18-19, 2020
Birmingham Hilton Metropole
The NEC Birmingham, Pendigo Way, Marston Green, Birmingham B40 1PP, United Kingdom
FanFest – London
February 22-23, 2020
Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Docks, London E16 1XL, United Kingdom
FanFest – Nashville
August 24-25, 2019
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
2800 Opryland Dr, Nashville,
The mystery world of conventions and how to navigate your way through it.
There’s no doubt that attending a convention is super fun and exciting. But organizing the whole thing can be tricky and complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a little beginner’s guide on how to make sure your convention weekend will be an amazing one.
For the Shadowhunters fandom, pre-cancellation fandom life consisted mainly of three components: waiting for new episodes (80% of the year), watching those new episodes (20% of the year) – and looking forward to conventions (all year). And while those first two components may be suffering from a little… well, downward trend, the third one is still very much current. Over the next 12 months the cast of Shadowhunters are attending a whole bunch of conventions worldwide, and the fandom couldn’t be more excited about it. In case you are thinking of attending one or are just curious what all the fuss is about – check out this article.
What is a convention?
A convention, also known as con, is a usually 2- or 3-day event where fans of a particular film, TV show, video game, comic book or some other genre of pop culture gather to meet each other and some of their idols. There are two types of conventions: multifandom cons, where fans of several tv shows, comics or movies meet up, and conventions that focus solely on one show or movie. Both kinds have become increasingly popular over the past couple of years as they offer fans the chance to meet (usually) several actors from their favorite movie or TV show in person at one and the same event.
The cast of “Shadowhunters” did quite a bit of travelling over the past three years in order to attend conventions around the world – they went to Comic Con in New York and San Diego, flew over to Brazil to meet fans there, attended events in Australia and made their way across the pond to Europe.
So the cast and fans of a TV show or movie go there… but what exactly do you do at a convention?
That differs from event to event. But generally, a convention is made up of four major activities: panels, Photo Ops, autograph sessions and Meet & Greets.
Panels are essentially Q&A sessions with the convention guests. The guests sit down on stage and answer questions from either the panel host or moderator or the audience. With some exceptions, access to the panels is usually included in the convention tickets.
Photo Ops are a chance for people to get a picture taken with the convention guests. They have to be bought in addition to the convention ticket, though more expensive pass categories usually include one or more Photo Ops. There are solo and group photo ops, where you either take a photo with just one of the guests or several of them. Photo Ops include a printed version of your photo(s), some conventions also offer the possibility of ordering the digital version of your photo and getting it emailed to you in exchange for an additional fee.
Autograph sessions are where you can get an autograph from the guests. They are also usually the only opportunity besides Meet & Greets where you get to chat to the guests for longer than a few seconds. If you brought a gift for a guest, you are usually asked to give it to them during the autograph sessions. Depending on your pass category, autographs may be included in your pass, or you will have to buy them separately.
Meet & Greets are like panels, but smaller. They are 20-30 minutes sessions where a small group of people get to sit down with one or several guests, talk to them and ask questions. Due to the small groups and limited number of Meet & Greets per guest, they are usually the most expensive kind of extra.
In between the fixed parts of the program, there may also be activities like games, quizzes or cosplay contests to make waiting for extras shorter and not too boring. And while meeting the cast of your favorite show is certainly the most exciting part of a convention, it is not necessarily the most fun one. What really makes a convention special are the people you share the experience with. It really is so much fun to spend a weekend with not only the cast of a show, but also hundreds of people who are just as passionate about that show as you are, and get to know them along the way. So in case you’re planning on attending one of the Shadowhunters conventions by yourself, don’t worry about being lonely all weekend. Chances are, the exact opposite will happen and you’ll go back home with photos and autographs from some of your favorite actors, but also with a bunch of new friends.
How much does it cost to go to a convention?
That depends entirely on your budget and on how much you want to spend. Besides travel, accommodation, food and maybe some sightseeing, you will have to calculate two main factors into your convention budget: the price of the admissions ticket (usually called “pass”) and the price of the extras you might want to get (e.g. Photo Ops, autographs, Meet & Greets), plus some pocket money for things like fan art or merchandise.
For the upcoming Shadowhunters conventions in Europe there are several pass categories for each event. The prices range from around 100€ (which is about $116) per ticket up to several thousand euros per ticket. All ticket categories include access to the convention, a seat in the panel room and the possibility to buy any extra you want. The more expensive a pass gets, the more is included – such as a number of (or all) Photo Ops and autographs, priority access, special goodies like posters or merchandise reserved for the pass category.
If you’re trying to travel on a budget and not spend too much money on the con itself, we recommend getting the cheapest pass category (which usually doesn’t have any extras included) and then only get the extras you really want. You will get the chance to see all of the convention guests on stage during panels either way.
Where can I get my tickets?
Most convention organizers sell their tickets via online ticket shops. For multifandom conventions there may be an on-site ticket sale on the day of the convention, but for the Shadowhunters-only conventions in Europe it is unlikely that there will be any tickets left by the time the convention actually takes place. That’s due to the limited number of tickets in general (there are only a few hundred passes available for most of the cons) and the popularity of the show, especially now that Shadowhunters has been cancelled.
What’s a typical day at a convention like?
First rule about conventions: There is no such thing as a “typical day.” Of course, there is a schedule for each day, but that’s subject to changes and generally, the schedule may get a little messed up since you can’t just strictly time an event that includes so many people. Big multifandom events like London Comic Con and Oz Comic Con have their very individual schedules as they usually host a bunch of guests that have nothing to do with each other and whose schedules won’t depend that much on each other.
The previous Shadowhunters conventions, however, all had a more or less similar schedule. Day 1 started with a little “opening ceremony” in the panel room, which was basically the moderator and guests coming on stage and saying hello to the fans – and the fans of course saying hello to them. After that, the individual day planning would commence, with Photo Ops, autograph sessions and Meet & Greets scheduled throughout the day. Meanwhile, there will be several panels and activities per day in the panel room to keep the audience entertained when they’re not waiting in line for their extras, strolling through the merchandise area or meeting the cast.
Judging from our experience at past Shadowhunters conventions, there were more panels in Italy than in France. But that might change next year. At the end of the last day of the con, there was a closing ceremony where all the guests come on stage again to say goodbye to the audience and vice versa.
Why are most of the Shadowhunters conventions in Europe?
We actually don’t know. Our guess is that with the cast attending events like SDCC, NYCC or WonderCon in the past, companies that organize conventions may have thought there wouldn’t be enough of a demand for a Shadowhunters-only convention. Apart from that, scheduling a con might have been difficult, with the cast filming in Toronto for most of the year and already attending conventions in Europe over the summer. Now that filming for the show has already wrapped, it is most likely even more difficult to get all the cast members together for a convention, simply due to the fact that they all have different schedules now and just may not have the time.
However, what you can do as a fandom is at least show convention companies that there is actually a high demand for a Shadowhunters convention in North America – and politely suggest the idea to them, via email or social media. Who knows, maybe someone will listen.
I’m going to one of the conventions in Europe, but I don’t speak the local language. What should I do?
Nothing, at least as far as the convention is concerned (for navigating around the city some basic vocabulary certainly won’t hurt). The main language at these kinds of events is English, so if your English skills are at a halfway decent level, you’ll be just fine. And if you’re fluent in French or Italian, but your English could use some brushing up, don’t worry. There will be a translator at the panels and Meet & Greets who will translate everything into the respective local language (except for the Brussels con, that one will be held exclusively in English without any translations).
What happens if my favorite actor cancels their attendance to a convention and I don’t want to go anymore?
Guest cancellations happen for a variety of reasons, but usually it’s because the guests have other commitments and can’t make it to the convention. As unfortunate as that may be, you will not get your pass refunded if your favorite actor cancels and you decide not to go. However, depending on the organizers, you will either get a refund for the extras you bought with the guest who cancelled or a credit you can use to purchase extras with other attending guests. It could also happen that the organizers announce another actor as a replacement for the one who cancelled and the extras you purchased will be switched to an extra with the new attendee automatically, which you can choose to either decline or accept. In case you decline to have your extras transferred to the new guest, you will either receive a refund after the convention or be offered another kind of arrangement by the organizers of the respective event.
Tip: If you’re thinking of going to a convention solely because of one single guest, think about whether you would still go there if that guest were to cancel. It’s a very real possibility that you may end up with a ticket to a convention and the person you came to see is not even there.
We asked our followers on Twitter if they had any burning questions that they wanted us to clear up. Here they are.
• Is it easy to resell my pass if I end up not being able to go to the con?
That depends on whether there will be official resales or not. Since the tickets for conventions are all personalized, you can’t just sell them to somebody else. You’ll need to get the organizer’s approval first, as they will need to change the name on the ticket and make sure the new owner of the ticket receives their pass. If there are official resales (which will be announced in time) and you find someone to buy your ticket, it shouldn’t be a problem to sell it. However, if there are no resales, you might be stuck with the ticket as you usually won’t get refunded except if the entire event gets cancelled.
• When will the convention guests be announced?
There is not really a time frame for when guest announcements will be made. It all depends on when the contracts with the guests are finalized. For example for THOS2 in 2018, Matthew Daddario and Katherine McNamara were announced as guests in August 2017. The other guests were announced throughout the year after those initial two, and the final guest to be confirmed was Harry Shum Jr. in April 2018. So as you see, the final guest list will be available only a few weeks before the convention.
• When will extras go on sale?
Extras usually go on sale as soon as the respective guest is announced. There is not really a time frame for when that will happen as it all depends on when contracts are finalized. However, with some guests being extremely popular, some conventions sell their extras in batches (for example the con in Paris), which means they will put a certain contingent on sale the day that the guest gets announced and save the rest for a later date.
Tip: Keep an eye on the promoters’ social media accounts; the guest announcements will be posted there first.
• When will the venue of the convention be announced?
Just like with the guest list, that depends on when the organizers sign the contracts with the respective venues. Conventions usually take place at convention hotels that offer the necessary infrastructure, for example, a panel room big enough to host several hundred people or a sufficient amount of rooms for Meet & Greets and autograph sessions.
• Will there be enough Photo Ops for everybody or will they be limited?
Extras at conventions are always limited. There is a certain number of Photo Ops and autographs per guest and once those are sold out, that’s it. The past conventions have shown that some actors’ extras sell out quicker than others (e.g. those of Matthew Daddario, Harry Shum Jr. and Dominic Sherwood), so if you already know that you want a photo or an autograph with a certain guest and their extras are put on sale, you better be quick. Sometimes conventions limit the number of a certain extra per person (e.g. only one Photo Op per person with guest X). This usually happens when a guest is extremely popular and in order to give everyone at least somewhat of a fair chance. WeventsProd, the company who organizes both “The Hunters of Shadow” conventions, already announced that there will be limitations for some of the guests at the convention in Paris.
• Will you keep us updated on when the extras go on sale?
As long as the news pertain to Harry or Matthew, of course. For all other guest updates, we recommend following the social media accounts of the companies that organize the conventions as any and all information about the conventions will be posted there first.
• What can we get signed at autograph sessions? Can we bring random pictures of the cast members?
Most people get photos of or with the cast signed at the autograph sessions. Photos of the guests are sold at the convention, but you can also bring your own items to sign. Bringing pictures of the cast to the autograph sessions is usually fine as long as they are not photos from the series (those are not allowed due to copyright issues). We recommend pictures from official photoshoots, those are usually not a problem. Fan art is okay as well (as long as it’s nothing explicit, obviously). Some conventions also sell fan art that you can get signed, or you can just bring your own drawings. If you’re planning on bringing someone else’s work to get signed at the convention, make sure that you’ve bought that drawing at their official store if they have one or at least asked for the artist’s permission. Also, keep in mind that the item you would like to get signed might get rejected for a variety of reasons. So before you actually go to the con, please double-check if that item is actually allowed and if you’re not sure, bring a backup.
Tip: If you have a Photo Op and later on an autograph with a convention guest, how about you ask them to sign the photo you took with them? No need to worry about permission or copyright issues and it will make the picture even more special than it already is.
• If you buy a photo of the guest to get signed at the convention, are there several options to choose from or just one?
That depends on the convention and the guest. In the past, some conventions had several options, others just one. It’s impossible to tell that beforehand, so you’ll just have to take whatever they have in stock on the day of the con.
• Can I buy extras on site at the convention?
Yes. The con staff usually keeps a certain amount of extras per guest to be sold at the convention. However, those quantities are usually rather limited so it’s best to get your extras beforehand, especially if you can expect the extras for the respective guest to sell out quickly.
• What are we allowed to bring with us to the convention?
Most important rule: no weapons, drugs or alcohol. Other than that, bringing a bag or a backpack with your personal items is fine. Your bag may be checked at the entrance, but you’re allowed to bring food and something to drink. Bringing a camera and taking pictures during the panels is also fine, but keep in mind that filming is usually not permitted and you may be asked to leave the convention if you get caught filming.
• What about food?
As conventions are an all-day event, you are bound to get hungry at some point. There will be a lunch break, but you will have to take care of your lunch yourself. Convention hotels are often at the outskirts of a city, so there may not necessarily be anything nearby to buy something to eat. Most people either bring snacks or buy something during the lunch break at a store, if there’s one nearby. Some conventions also offer packed lunch which you pay for in advance and just have to pick up at the hotel.
Tip: If you’re going to one of the conventions in Europe, make sure you sort out your lunch for Sunday in time. Stores will most likely be closed that day.
• Where can I sleep during the convention?
That is up to you. The convention ticket only includes admission to the event, not accommodation. As conventions are often held at a hotel, there are usually discounts at that hotel for people who also bought a ticket to the con. However, as convention hotels can still get pretty pricey even with a discount, you can also search for an Airbnb or a cheaper hotel nearby. The good thing about convention venues is that they are usually fairly easy to reach via public transport, so even if your hotel is halfway across the city, getting to the convention on time shouldn’t be a problem.