Welcome to the new year! January is a time for new beginnings, a time to think about continuing your life into the next chapter. While resolutions and goals are great tools for growth and self-improvement, you do need to have fun along the way. How better to do that than by checking out some awesome conventions? Our list of January’s best conventions and festivals is here to help you take on this new year with curiosity and zest! Are you ready for 2018? What kind of story will you write?
Anime-ZAP: Peoria, IL
A mix of anime, sci-fi, and your favorite comics. Strut on the costume catwalk, play video games, or twirl the night away at the cosplay ball!
City of Melbourne Home & Garden Show: Melbourne, FL
Do you spend your free time daydreaming about your dream home? Get decorating and landscaping ideas at this gathering. See the latest styles for modern homes and gardening practices, whether you’re currently a homeowner or just aspiring to be one!
Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention: Los Angeles, CA
Catch your favorites characters here! Special guests include cast members of The Walking Dead and Riverdale.
Young Playwrights Festival: Chicago, IL
Throughout the weekend, Pegasus Theater will host a series of one-act plays created by Chicago students. The showcase is also a competition, with the winning play being part of the theatre’s upcoming season.
4 Amigos Guitar Show: San Rafael, CA
A great place to expand your guitar collection! Guitar enthusiasts will find an impressive array of smooth, classic, and funky guitars. Feast your eyes on acoustic, electric, bass, and even vintage selections!
30A Songwriter Festival: Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Hey, songwriters: get ready to show your stuff! Songwriters from all over gather at this annual event to showcase their craft and discuss the process. Professional songwriters will be in attendance to join the fun.
Art Deco Weekend: Miami Beach, FL
Once again, it’s time for this long-time free community cultural fest in the historic Art Deco District. As usual, everyone is in on the fun: offerings include exhibits, live music, plays, dance, film screenings, art, antiques, and more. Can’t imagine being bored at this fest!
The Dream Bowl: Salem, VA
Party with fellow fans of college football! Now that the college football season has drawn to a close, this festival gives you the opportunity to gather with other passionate fans of FCS, D-II, and D-III all-stars.
Rustycon: Seattle, WA
A versatile sci-fi and fantasy convention chock-full of fun activities! Find tech buffs, amateur writers, science buffs, folk singers, poets, local musicians, gamers, and more gathered for a good time.
SwampCon-Voyage: Gainesville, FL
University of Florida students mark seven years of organizing this free anime, gaming, comic, and sci-fi convention for everyone to enjoy. Help them celebrate by coming and having a good time!
Wodapalooza Miami Fitness Festival: Miami, FL
Ah, fitness festivals: where everyone within eyesight is active and buff. Come model your muscles, participate in lifting another games, or just admire the well-sculpted participants and their feats of physical strength!
AniMore: Baltimore, MD
Appreciate cosplay? You’d better bring your costuming A-game for this cosplay, gaming, and tabletop convention. Make sure to say “hey” to the special guest cosplayers, like Aaron Rabe and Arthur Stump.
Carnival of Illusion: Tuscon, AZ
Don’t blink! The illusions here will leave you completely in awe of these magicians’ slight-of-hand skills. Can you figure out the method behind the magic? Delight your senses and indulge in the world of tricks and illusions!
Dessert Wars Miami: Miami, FL
Have a sweet tooth? Come devour the monstrously sweet creations on display at this dessert-themed fest. Just mind the sugar crash!
Ouray Ice Festival: Ridgway, CO
Try out ice-related sports at this festival. The main event is ice climbing, but if you get cold feet, don’t fret: there’s also music, food, and dancing. Grab your gear and slide on through!
Slamdance Film Festival: Park City, UT
Can’t make it to Sundance? No worries: this scrappy alternative, held in the same city at the same time, may be even better for film-fest neophytes. Aspiring and emerging filmmakers attend to showcase imaginative films that tend to be a little grittier and more DIY than your typical Sundance fare.
Wings of Winter: Buchanan, TN
Discover the wonders of ornithology! This bird-watching festival comes complete with field trips to various state parks and refuges throughout Tennessee. Aspiring artists might also want to take note of this one: wildlife photography is welcomed!
Children’s International Film Festival: Seattle, WA
Looking for a film-festival experience that lets you bring the little ones? Film enthusiasts flock to Seattle to enjoy this program of international children’s features and short films, complete with a robust array of workshops and panels. There’s even a pancake breakfast! Yum.
Donut Fest: Chicago, IL
Just like your favorite Boston creme, this festival will be full to the brim with soft, sweet treats to lighten up your day (if not your diet). Taste-test creative, experimental combos from indie donut-slingers!
Gasparilla Fest: Tampa, FL
Arrrr ya ready to march with the pirates? This festival is the perfect place (and time) to search for buried treasure, as people from all over come to Tampa for a weekend full of pirate-themed fun.
International Spy Museum Spy Fest: Washington, DC
Celebrate the world of espionage. Test your secret agent skills with the spy-themed exercises at this interactive event, and educate yourself on the spies who’ve come before you. Pro tip: keep cool, and don’t blow your cover.
Kami Con: Birmingham, Al
Come out and share your love for all things anime and gaming! If you’re a ‘90s baby, you don’t want to miss special guests Dante Basco, who played “Ru-fi-oooooo” in Hook, or Johnny Yong Bosch, the Black Ranger from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
UNO BOCH Festival: Omaha, NE
UNO School of Music hosts workshops with industry experts and performance opportunities for high school music students. Find band, choir, and orchestra activities for music-making and learning!
Ting Ting Chen