If you managed to find yourself in downtown Atlanta last weekend, you may have been slightly disturbed by seeing people dressed up as zombies, “Game of Thrones” characters and even crew members of the “Star Trek” Starship Enterprise. The varieties of such people were cosplaying for Dragon Con, the largest science fiction and fantasy convention in Georgia.

Dragon Con is essentially the South’s Comic Con, featuring an entire weekend full of attractions and events that appeal to one’s inner nerd. In 2012, the convention reached its all-time high with 52,000 participants. This year, more than 62,000 participants joined the convention.

At the convention, there are a multitude of attractions you can see and experience. The average Dragon Con weekend includes going to panels with visiting celebrities, walking the “hall of fame,” meeting and greeting your favorite celebrities, attending midnight parties based on your favorite sci-fi show and even buying some merchandise. While Dragon Con can be overwhelming, it’s a beyond-worthwhile experience.

Gallery: More photos from this year’s Dragon Con


The convention started on Friday and ended on Monday. On Friday, the day started with sci-fi and fantasy authors doing readings and signings, along with a few smaller panels. For instance, Evanna Lynch and Scarlett Byrne, the actresses who played Luna Lovegood and Pansy Parkinson in the “Harry Potter” films, held a “Growing Up Potter” panel where they discussed funny behind-the-scenes moments and their thoughts on portraying each of their characters.

On Saturday, the day started off with a parade of the best cosplaying characters from the weekend. The parade offered a host of characters, ranging from Doctor Who to Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy” to every superhero imaginable.

Saturday also saw the start of the Con’s most-attended panels. Most of these panels featured popular celebrities such as actors and actresses from “Arrow,” “Star Trek,” “Battlestar Galactica” and “Lord of the Rings.” Most of these panels were offered on both Saturday and Sunday, so those who were unable to grab a seat on Saturday could still sneak a peek on Sunday.

The convention artfully combines smaller, more intimate gatherings with more arena-worthy panels, giving the attendees an array of experiences that appeal to all. The smaller panels which featured only one speaker focused on the individual and getting an up-close and personal experience with the actor or actress. One of those such actresses was “Person of Interest” star Amy Acker, who held her own panel on Saturday about the “Whedonverse,” or what it felt to be apart of famous director Joss Whedon’s (“The Avengers,” “Much Ado About Nothing”) movies and TV series. From the panel, one could see Acker as a shy actress who loved her job and enjoyed the twist and turns of playing in Whedon’s “Angel.”

In larger panels, the audience had the opportunity to see the playful side of the actors or actresses and get an inside look at the behind-the-scenes dynamic of the TV show or movie. The cast of “Arrow,” for instance, appeared at a panel dubbed “The Rule of Law,” in which they answered questions about the filming of the show and the performance of the stunts. The actors and actresses were clearly a tender family, cracking jokes and rolling eyes at their fellow actors/actresses responses to questions.

Similarly, in the “Lord of The Rings” (known affectionately among fantasy geeks as LOTR) panels, the actors acted like brothers. Craig Parker (better known as Haldir) brought a construction cone on stage and used it to spy the audience members who asked questions, and Billy Boyd (lovable hobbit Pippin) laughed until he cried as he retold a story about a silly game called “Tig” that they created behind the scenes. Each of the panels showed off the human side of the celebrities, along with their individual personalities.

At the Walk of Fame, the celebrities laughed and talked with each person that visited them.

Had you visited Adam Brown, or Ori from LOTR, you would’ve had an awkward side-hug and some chuckles.

If you visited Manu Bennett from “Arrow,” he might have given you a gigantic bear hug along with some advice as to where to travel in New Zealand. Acker might have nervously tittered about her new character on the TV series “Angel.”

Yet the convention also brought together a sense of shared companionship amongst the attendees. Throughout the convention, each person was eager to meet another and share his or her crazy experiences of Dragon Con. In the long lines that preceded the large panels, con-goers sat on the floor, striking up conversations about their favorite TV series or movies.

It was the idea that each person was free to completely and totally delve into their secret obsession with “Star Wars” or “Doctor Who” and not be judged.

The convention provided events that were fun for all, whether it meant partying it up like it was your “Yule” ball or fan-girling over the cutest actor of your favorite TV show, it is a must-have experience. College senior Aniqa Alam, who attended Dragon Con this year and in previous years, described how she felt about the experience and said that she recommends Dragon Con for all those that are “nerds at heart.”

“There’s everything under the sun at Dragon Con, including some things that you probably – or preferably – would have never heard of,” she said. “If you’re still making sense by the end of the day, you didn’t do Dragon Con right.”

Click here for a photo gallery of this year’s Dragon Con.


– By Ashley Bianco

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