Dragon Con

Photo courtesy of Dragon Con

Labor Day weekend is upon us once again. 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, Westin Peachtree Plaza and at  AmericasMart 1 and 2. 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 82,000 attendees for this year’s event.

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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, plus AmericasMart. 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.”

Dragon Con 2016 Day 1

Photo courtesy of Mike McKinney

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 a fan favorite with the festivities starting at 10 am. Check the Dragon Con website for details of the parade route. Be sure to get to the parade site early, as the sidewalks along the parade route fill up quickly and taking Marta to the parade is highly suggested.  If you can’t make it to the parade, then stay at home and watch it on Atlanta’s CW starting at 10 am (repeating at 10 pm) and streaming live on the ATLCW.TV website. You will beat the crowds and still have all the fun

The Walk of Fame, located at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, is where you can get autographs from some of your favorite shows. Star Trek fans will be able to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation with several of the show’s main characters including Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and Marina Sirtis.

Muppeteer Martin P. Robinson, best known for performing Mr. Snuffleupagus, Telly Monster, and Slimey the Worm on Sesame Street since 1981, and Lisa Henson, chief executive of The Jim Henson Company, lead a strong cast of puppetry guests.

Dragon Con 2016 Day 1

Photo courtesy of Mike McKinney

The Dragon Con Dealers Hall, located in  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 ton 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  “Battlestar Galactica,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Game of Thrones” and CW’s own “Arrow,” “The 100,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ “Reign’ and “The Flash.”

Dragon Con 2016 Day 1

Photo courtesy of Mike McKinney

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Gaming is going to be big this year at Dragon Con!  Already one of the largest gaming conventions in the nation, Dragon Con has expanded its gaming space. Dragon Con’s gaming programming is located at 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 at the Westin while free gaming, paid tournaments, and similar events will be held in Americas Mart.  As always gaming will be open to all Dragon Con members 24×7 for the convention.  New this year, Dragon Con has added cash-prize eSports, sometimes called professional gaming, streamed over the Twitch platform, to its slate of game-specific programming. Dragon Con attendees will be able to see events live, watching professional players and teams compete for cash prizes while their gameplay is broadcast to viewers at home via Twitch.

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. Panels and how-to-workshops on comics are held throughout the con. There are also a bunch of live performances including the “Dragon Con Burlesque: A Glamour Geek Revue” “The Buffy Horror Picture Show” and “The Late Night Puppet Slam.” There are bands of just about every genre, including jazz, punk, rock and folk.

Alton Brown will be appearing at this year’s Dragon Con with his panel “Good Eats…The Panel.” A brief puppet show will be a part of the panel.

Dragon Con 2016 Day 1

Photo courtesy of Mike McKinney

In the spirit of the Dragon and with infinite admiration, Dragon Con has created The Dragon Award as a vessel to recognize excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy. These awards will be by the fans, for the fans, and are a chance to reward those who have made real contributions to SF, books, games, comics,

Dragon Con 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 hospitals in the Atlanta area and 110 hospitals in the Southeast.

Photo by David A. Cruickshanks

Be sure to catch the CW panels at Dragon Con as stars of ‘Reign’ Adelaide Kane, Megan Follows, and Rachel Skarsten will appear. From ‘Arrow’ Willa Holland, Paul Blackthorne, Echo Kellum, and Josh Segarra will appear. From ‘The Flash’ Danielle Panabaker, Rick Cosnett, John Wesley Shipp, and Jessica Camacho.  From ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Matt Letscher and Maisie Richardson-Williams will be on several panels. From ‘The 100’ Christopher Larkin, Richard Harmon, Zach McGowan, and Tasya Teles will be there.

Look for me at the con and be sure to come back to the ATLCW.TV website as I will be posting pictures from Dragon Con.  Also, look for the CW Crew out and about Dragon Con on Saturday and Sunday.

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For more information go to www.dragoncon.org