Labor Day weekend is upon once again. Which brings us not only football and NASCAR to Atlanta, but for many passionate fans, Labor Day weekend means that it’s the time of year for one of Atlanta’s greatest events, Dragon Con. Located in 5 downtown hotels, at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Sheraton Atlanta and Westin Peachtree Plaza. Dragon Con brings together actors, writers, comic book artists, singers, dancers and cos-players to celebrate all things pop culture related. They are expecting a record crowd of over 62,000 attendees for this year’s event.
What makes Dragon Con unique from other cons including Comic Con, is that Dragon Con isn’t located in just one convention center, it’s spread out over five hotels. This means that the streets of downtown Atlanta will be filled with interesting people wearing elaborate costumes, some of which have been worked on all year just for this event. There are a number of costume contests, some of which have themes like “Star Wars” or “Star Trek.”
While you do need a pass to get into the Con, you can watch the famous Dragon Con parade on Saturday morning for free. You will see just about every cartoon, anime and superhero character, along with a variety of other delightful cos-players in the procession. The highlight of the parade is the legion of “Star Wars” Stormtroopers that finish the parade. The Parade is on the same route this year, with the festivities starting at 10 am. The parade will march South on Peachtree St. to International, where it makes a left. Another left on Peachtree Center Drive brings the parade back to the Hyatt and Marriott. Be sure to get to the parade site early, as the sidewalks along the parade route fill up quickly.
The Walk of Fame, located at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, is where you can get autographs from actors like Sir Patrick Stewart (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”), Karl Urban (“Lord of the Rings”), James Gunn (writer / director of “Guardians of the Galaxy”), Terry Gilliam (Monty Python), Paul Blackthorne (“Arrow”), Katie Cassidy (“Arrow”) and Lou Ferrigno (“The Incredible Hulk”).
The Dragon Con Dealers Hall, located in the Atlanta Convention Center at AmericasMart, is where you can buy just about anything your geeky heart desires – from Steampunk clothing to comic books and rare collectible artwork.
There are a number of panels throughout the weekend. Some are located in enormous halls while others occupy smaller conference rooms. You can find panels on just about everything you can imagine covering the gambit of fandom; from your favorite current and past Sci-Fi shows, such as “True Blood,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Game of Thrones” and CW’s own “Arrow.”
If art is your thing, then you will want to go to the Comic and Pop Art Alley. You can talk to and buy work from comic book writers, artists and publishers. A number of panels and how-to-workshops are held throughout the con. There are also a number of live performances including the “Dragon Con Burlesque: A Glamour Geek Revue” and “The Late Night Puppet Slam.” There are bands of just about every genre, including jazz, punk, rock and folk.
On Saturday night, Aspen Comics and Dragon Con take over The Georgia Aquarium with the Aspen Comics Beach Party. Featuring DJ Spider, Aspen creators and an Aspen-themed costume contest – this is an exclusive “after hours” opportunity to explore the world’s largest aquarium while commemorating one of the industry’s most respected and beloved comics publishers. This year’s aquarium event will be held Saturday, Aug. 30, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Advance tickets are $25 per person until August 27 and $30 per person thereafter. New for 2014, the VIP experience is $75 and includes admission to the aquarium, private lounge area with scenic intimate views of animal gallery, open bar, light bites, and an exclusive meet-and-greet with Aspen Comics creators. DJ Little Jen will also be spinning for this exclusive VIP event! Shuttle buses will be provided for the event. For additional details or to purchase tickets, please visit the Georgia Aquarium site at www.georgiaaquarium.org
Be sure to catch the “Arrow” panels with Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance), Paul Blackthorne (Quentin Lance), and Caity Lotz (Sara Lance/Black Canary).
Dragon Con starts Friday August 29 and goes through Monday September 1. For information on Dragon Con, admission prices and venue locations go to the Dragon Con Website at www.dragoncon.org
Written by Michael McKinney