Dragon Con, the internationally known pop culture, science fiction, fantasy, and gaming convention, is back and bigger than ever, with a record 85,000 people headed to downtown Atlanta for the Labor Day weekend.
Dragon Con, making Labor Day Atlanta’s favorite holiday since 1987, runs from (today) Thursday, Aug. 30 to Monday, Sept. 3 with events and activities across five host hotels – Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Westin Peachtree, and Sheraton Atlanta – and AmericasMart Buildings #1 and #2.
Fans will travel from all 50 states and several foreign countries to meet their favorite actors, artists, authors, creators, and experts, show off their latest cosplay, make new friends, and revel in the joy that is Dragon Con.
In addition to the guests and the fabulous cosplay, Dragon Con offers more than 140,000 square feet of gaming, making it one of the largest gaming conventions in the nation. From the latest video games to the most popular tabletop games, plus Japanese and classic American arcade games, ‘round the clock gaming is free to Dragon Con members starting Thursday, Aug. 30 at 4 p.m.
Guests – More than 400 guests, from the worlds of movies, television, comics, literature, and other universes, will lead panel discussions and meet with fans. Some of this year’s top guests include Once Upon a Time’s Jennifer Morrison, Ant-Man & The Wasp’s Evangeline Lilly, Luke Cage’s Mike Colter, and Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin from Stranger Things.
Helping to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Superman, two actors who wore the cape – Smallville’s Tom Welling and Superman Return’s Brandon Routh – plus one who played arch-villain Lex Luthor, Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum, will meet fans, lead discussions, and sign autographs.
In honor of Sesame Street’s 50 years on television, Dragon Con welcomes Carrol Spinney, the Muppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, plus human character actors Bob McGrath (Bob), Emilio Delgado (Luis), and Roscoe Orman (Gordon).
Some other films and television represented by guests at this year’s convention include the Avengers: Infinity War; The Hobbit; Hot Fuzz; Game of Thrones; Dr. Who; the Star Trek franchise, including the original series, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Discovery; The Expanse; The 100; CW’s Arrow-verse (Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl); Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Black Lightning; American Gods; Lost; The X-Files; Lost Girl; the Stargate franchise; Warehouse 13; and The Incredible Hulk.
Parade – The always popular Dragon Con Parade steps off on Saturday, Sept. 1 at 10 a.m.
While the parade is expected to attract a large crowd – it is free and the whole city is invited – it will also be broadcast live on television by Atlanta’s CW69, with a rebroadcast during primetime.
The parade route remains the same as past years. Beginning at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Linden Avenue, the parade will head south on Peachtree, east (left) on Andrew Young International Boulevard and north (left) on Peachtree Center Avenue. It will end on Peachtree Center Avenue between John Portman Boulevard and Baker Street, in front of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
The route is convenient to three MARTA stations – North Avenue, Civic Center, and Peachtree Center. Parking downtown is expected to be tight, and Dragon Con encourages parade spectators to ride MARTA.
Cosplay – Dragon Con is well known for the quality of its cosplay – or costume play – and that tradition will certainly continue. The nation’s top cosplayers will show off their best work during the show, participating in costume contests every night of the convention and promenading throughout the five host hotels and the streets of downtown Atlanta.
Cosplay competitions remain a mainstay of Dragon Con, including the queen of competitions, Dragon Con Masquerade, the oldest continuously run competition in fandom. Eddie McClintock (Warehouse 13) will host. The Chôsen, which is part of Dragon Con Night at the Aquarium, will be emceed by Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) and Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville).
Official Charity – Atlanta-based Literacy Action, Inc. is Dragon Con’s official charity for 2018. Through auctions and other charity events, plus a dollar-for-dollar match up to $100,000 from Dragon Con, the convention will raise money to support this important community organization.
The convention raised $110,000 for Special Olympics Georgia in 2017 and has consistently raised more than $100,000 for each of its official charities since 2013.
In addition to fundraising, Dragon Con conducts the largest convention-based blood drive in the nation. In 2017, some 3,000 fans donated more than 6,000 units of blood and blood products in the annual Robert A. Heinlein “Pay It Forward” blood drive, benefiting LifeSouth, which serves more than 40 hospitals in the Atlanta area and 110 hospitals in the Southeast.