It’s official: C2E2 is my favorite convention. Even though 2016 was only my second year attending, this con firmly cemented its place for my top spot.
C2E2 stands for Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, and it is held every spring at McCormick Place in Chicago. 2016 marked its seventh year. What makes C2E2 so special? Read on to find out!
- Chicago. I am from the Midwest, currently live in the Midwest, and have visited Chicago many times over the years, so it is the “big city” of choice when I want to visit top-notch museums or schedule a getaway. The best part of Chicago, though, is the vibe. Everyone is super friendly because you are still in the Midwest, but it definitely has the metropolitan feel of a large urban area. If New York City makes you feel claustrophobic or you dislike the attitude of Los Angeles, Chicago is the perfect substitute, and makes the con environment seem super chill and laid-back.
- Cosplay. In 2016 especially, C2E2 has crowned itself the champion of cosplay conventions. In fact, it is home of the Crown Championship of Cosplay, where the winner gets $10,000 worth of prizes and gets judged by the best in the industry. Most comic convention attendees do not cosplay; I would say it is usually about 20% cosplay and 80% people in street clothes. At C2E2 though, that number is almost flipped—there are costumes everywhere. And for the most part, these are not amateur costumes; these are some of the best you have ever seen. You can even read Geekiary writer Tara’s C2E2 Cosplay Highlights article.
- Exhibit Floor. The floor is HUGE, and there is something for everyone. There are tons of cosplay vendors, places to get toys, and geek gear galore. It is also huge for book publishers to show off their latest titles. If you get overwhelmed by TV networks and film studios at other cons, C2E2 will cut straight to the chase by allowing you to shop for comics, art, and accessories. And one of the best parts? You can purchase alcohol on the floor; in particular the featured Galaxy Hero beer brewed by Chicago’s own Revolution Brewing.
- Artist Alley. It is GIANT. Seriously. Even San Diego Comic Con pales in comparison to the amazing artists and AMOUNT of artists in Chicago. You will find a little bit of everything here, and many artists encourage attendees to reach out to them ahead of time for commissions which can be picked up at the convention.
- Close Proximity. One of the best things about this convention that other large cons cannot boast is that all of the programming is condensed into one building. It is a giant building, but it is altogether. You don’t have to run outside from building to building to catch panels, and there is even a hotel connected to the convention center. It is super convenient, and I did not even go outside for the three days of the con (which is nice for the unpredictable weather that Chicago tends to have). There are lots of food choices, and even a Starbucks inside the con center (but be prepared for some hefty lines). And if you’re local or staying at a further hotel, complimentary shuttles can drop you off, or you can take public transportation which is close by.
- Inclusiveness. Every single place you go for the con has reminders of “Cosplay is not consent” and there are signs promoting the use and directing attendees to gender-neutral restrooms. Not only is this great for families, but it provides a safe environment for all attendees. Another extremely cool thing was the inclusion of a Quiet Room–a ballroom away from the action where attendees who need a break from the stimulation and noise can wind down and de-stress. This is a must for those who suffer from anxiety or are on the autism spectrum. Again, the goal is to have everyone have the best time ever at the convention, and that includes creating a safe place.
- Programming. Smaller conventions, like Wizard World cons, tend to focus on celebrity guests. Larger cons have a mix of celebrity guests and panels of how to get started in the industry. C2E2 is a great blend of those, but also focuses a lot on diversity, STEM, and educators looking to incorporate geekdom into their classrooms. Of course, comic book publishers are a mainstay and there are usually TV shows that you can preview.
- Guests. C2E2 always manages to get some great celebrity guests, but something that I love about this particular con is that it also tends to get some “cult favorites” that you might not get at other cons. For example, 2016 gave us two of my favorite actresses–Ksenia Solo and Rachel Skarsten. I love them in Lost Girl, but they are also powerhouses on Orphan Black and Reign, respectively. I like being able to go into a panel room with just a couple hundred other people and hear some of my favorite creators talk in such an intimate setting. It is like SDCC’s Nerd HQ, only without the added stress of having to nab a ticket. And like most other conventions, there are opportunities for autographs and photos with the celebrity guests, but something fairly unique to C2E2 is that there are usually multiple sessions, so they are less likely to sell out and more fans get a chance.
C2E2 will be back in 2017 for its eighth year April 21-23 at McCormick Place. Will you join us there next year?
Erin has reviewed many shows over the years including Orphan Black, iZombie, Penny Dreadful, and Killing Eve. She has a keen eye for on-screen chemistry, and loves to tackle the subject of casting. She is also our horror aficionado. She live tweets shows, and loves to share her feelings. Erin has a BA in History, and likes to analyze the lore behind historical fiction. She attends San Diego Comic Con every year and has also attended C2E2 and WonderCon.
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