More than 75,000 people are expected to pack downtown Atlanta over the Labor Day weekend as Dragon Con, the internationally known pop culture, sci fi, fantasy, and gaming convention, celebrates its 30th Anniversary.
Dragon Con fans will travel from every state in the nation and a few foreign countries to participate in the four-day convention, where they can meet their favorite actors, artists, authors, and creators, and talk about the stuff they love.
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 William Shatner and Alexander Siddig, who will help mark 50 years of Star Trek plus Alex Kingston, Gillian Anderson, Jack Gleeson, Alan Tudyk, and Charlie Cox.
Brian Henson, master puppeteer and son of the late Jim Henson, will be on hand to talk about the 30th anniversary of Labyrinth. And puppeteers Brian Herring and Dave Chapman will talk about their work as the hands behind BB-8, the ball-shaped droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“We are delighted to have so many guests from so many of today’s most popular or, in the case of classic science fiction, best loved shows and movies to join us for our 30th Anniversary celebration,” convention co-chair Rachel Reeves said. “Overall, we will have some 400 guests – actors, authors, artists and other creators and experts – from across science, science fiction, and fantasy worlds, in whatever medium.”
The Dragon Con Parade
For the first time, the annual Dragon Con Parade will be broadcast live on television by Atlanta’s CW69 on Saturday, Sept. 3 beginning at 10 a.m., with a rebroadcast during primetime.
The parade route remains the same as last year. 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 consider taking MARTA.
Already one of the largest gaming conventions in the nation, Dragon Con has expanded its gaming space by more than 60 percent for its 30th Anniversary convention. This year, Dragon Con’s gaming programming will move to the Westin Peachtree Plaza and the adjacent AmericasMart Building One, where it will take up a combined 140,000 square feet. Panels, contests, and parties will be held in the Westin while free gaming, paid tournaments, and similar events will be held in AmericasMart. As always gaming will be open to all Dragon Con members 24×7 for the convention.
“The strength of gaming has been a pillar at Dragon Con since our first convention in 1987. Just as the convention continues to grow, our ability to offer programming and gameplay does too,” convention co-chair Dave Cody said. “We are able to offer our fans more games, more gameplay, and more and better opportunities to talk with voice actors, game designers, and other guests from the worlds of table top and video gaming.”
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, which is both the oldest continuously run competition in fandom as well as one of the largest in the world. The Chôsen, which premiered last year at Dragon Con Night at the Aquarium to a sold out crowd, returns again this year for a second annual appearance.
Earlier this year, Dragon Con selected the Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency as its official charity for 2016. Through auctions and other charity events, plus a dollar-for-dollar match up to $50,000 from Dragon Con, the convention will raise money to support this important community organization.
In 2015, the convention raised over $100,000 for its official charity, the Lymphoma Research Foundation – Georgia Market. Through the Superheroes community service program, Dragon Con fans contributed more than 900 hours of community service.
Dragon Con also conducts the largest convention-based blood drive in the nation. 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 hospital in the Atlanta area and 110 hospitals in the Southeast.
About Dragon Con
Dragon Con is the internationally known pop culture convention held each Labor Day in Atlanta. Organized for fans, Dragon Con features more than about 3,000 hours of comics, film, television, costuming, art, music, and gaming over four days. For more information, please visit www.dragoncon.org.