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in     by  02-05-2017

It’s good to start making summer plans as much in advance as you can. You can avoid overpaying, plus not all the events/hotel rooms/other variables are sold out. If you are sick of mountains, sunbathing, or you’re just simply looking for some alternative this year, convention is the unconventional solution! Yes, I just did it. Why conventions, then? Let’s begin with a quick definition of this term.

Of course, we are not talking about convention in terms of law, unless you want to spend your summer studying how international agreements work. You don’t, do you? That’s what I thought. A fan convention is an event, usually lasting for a couple of days, that gathers fans of some particular film, series, books, or an entire genre like manga/anime, science fiction, comic books, etc. Conventions usually offer a variety of attractions, including panels: a kind of lecture where fans can deepen their knowledge of Hogwarts houses, or meet other fellows who happen to worship Bella and Edward. If you’re getting my references then yes, you’re definitely geek enough to find yourself at a convention.

Apart from panels, what else attracts participants is cosplay (costume play). If you like to watch people dressed up as characters from your favourite series then a convention is a place for you. Who knows, maybe you’ll get to talk to the Red Power Ranger or black-suited Lucifer Morningstar. Why not consider dressing up yourself? Batman, Sailor Moon, Spider-Man or Cat Woman are still relevant and never outdated! It’s your vision and initiative that matters. Of course, cosplay requires a certain courage and easy-going attitude, but don’t think you can get a little Dutch courage: most conventions do not tolerate drinking alcohol. Which leads me to the part where I offer you travel advice to avoid trouble when you’re away.

First, check the specific entry requirements of the country you’re travelling to. In the EU/EEA your passport is more than enough, but for travel to the USA you have to get a visa (see Foreign and Commonwealth Office page to check the details). Be aware of this fact if you decide to go to Comic-Con in San Diego (July 20-23, 2017), the biggest American convention. This convention is massive, with an average attendance of over 160,000 participants. Thus, it’s worth remembering to prepare for this kind of a trip. Try not to be alone during events on such a scale and get familiar with the programme which, in most cases, clarifies where to go and what to do. Believe it or not – and speaking from personal experience – it’s incredibly easy to get lost during a small convention with less than 3,000 participants, let alone over 100,000.

Remember to find out about the currency of the country you’re visiting. You can find this out easily by checking your destination on this list of countries. For some attractions or events the promoter might require an additional payment. Bigger conventions often offer meetings with actors from movies or series, and such meet-and-greets often need to be paid for at the venue. So, if you fancy meeting the Supernatural cast in Rome (Jus in Bello, Italy, 2017) or Dusseldorf, Germany (Purgatory 3, May 2017), take the correct amount of Euros to avoid trouble. Moreover, when it comes to debit/credit cards, remember that your bank might charge you additional fees for currency conversions. Talk to your bank to find out about the details. Also, it would be wise to get to know a little bit the local language. I can promise you that even the simplest daily expressions would ease your stay and people will appreciate your attempts – even if they’re not 100% correct!

Look up some more international conventions to provide yourself with an unforgettable and original experience this summer. Participants are likely to make new friends, gain some travelling experience, and even get into the spirit of fandoms and the world of fiction. That’s something to consider!

Michal Frackowiak