How to Survive Your First UK Comic Con
So, you’ve decided to go to a UK Comic-Con for the first time!
Welcome to the weird and wonderful club!
We are here to guide through this process, and give you a few hints and tips to make your experience the best it can be.
Comic Cons are fun. But they can be overwhelming for first-timers.
So here is the ultimate guide to making your first comic convention an awesome experience for all!
Getting To Your Convention
The first step to any Comic Convention is working out how to get there. And for some conventions, this can be trickier than others.
Rail replacement services and Sunday bus time tables can mean taking longer to get to your convention than others. So you’ll want to plan ahead.
Here are some fantastic tools to help you get on your way.
At ComicConventions.Info, we highly recommend grabbing the CityMapper app. This works in most major cities and some suburbs too. If you are travelling to London for your convention, then you really shouldn’t be without it.
CityMapper gives all the best routes to get to your convention, including walking and rain-safe options. It also gives some information on train delays and route closures. It is fantastic for last-minute travel alterations.
The only downside is it only does cities, so you may have to use it to plan your journey from your first train station in that city, such as Kings Cross or Manchester Piccadilly station. So support it with Google Maps for longer journeys.
Buying tickets on the trainline.com can be a lot cheaper than buying them on the day of travel, especially if you buy them 12+ weeks in advance. Experiment with a few different options, including splitting your tickets. So for example, if you are travelling from Liverpool to London and the train stops at Birmingham, it might be cheaper to buy a ticket from Liverpool to Birmingham, then Birmingham to London, even if you don’t change trains.
It’s easier (and sometimes cheaper) to stay overnight at some conventions.
However, getting the right price and the right location can be tricky.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you out.
1. Stay outside of the immediate area for cheaper rooms
Convention Centre hotels will put their prices up around events where most people stay overnight. Comic-Con is one of those events. As most hotels sell out quickly, prices may skyrocket.
So if you are going to the NEC, for example, it is actually much cheaper to stay in Birmingham City centre and get the train to the NEC every time.
2. Use Multiple Hotel Search Engines
The same room appears on different websites at different prices. This is also true for hotel search engines. Have a look on:
Find a hotel that suits your budget, but also remember to factor in tube times .
Arriving At Comic-Con
When arriving at Comic-Con, you’ll have to queue and go through security.
Make sure your bags are open when you get to security for a speedy check.
For some, the line is the best bit of the convention. You’ll be close to a load of people who love the same things you are. Friendships and relationships have formed in queues for comic con. It can be good fun.
For others, the thought of a queue can be shudder-provoking. If you want to avoid the lines go on Friday (If possible) or Sunday. Try to arrive at least an hour early as the queues do get long, very quickly.
Planning Your Day
As soon as you arrive, find a show guide and grab a pen. Some of the bigger ones might have an app to use instead.
Start by looking at all the panels, talks, signings and photographs. Write down everything you need to do. Sounds obvious, but you will always miss something.
Then SET ALARMS ON YOUR PHONE!
Set Alarms for 30 minutes and 15 minutes before each panel so you have enough time to get to your panel and get a good seat.
What to Take With You
You should take a backpack with the following:
- Marker pen for autographs
- Notebook and Pen
- Battery Packs
- Phone charger cable and plug
- Something to do in the queue (book, tablet, comic)
- Photo holders (If you are doing photoshoots)
- Shopping List
By taking a shopping list of things you need you can help focus your shopping efforts. For example, need a new bag or wallet? There will be loads of those that you can buy!
In terms of snacks, take things that won’t be affected by the heat. Jerky, dried fruit, jelly babies, biscuits, and vegetables are great snacks to take with you. Chocolate will melt avoid taking that.
What to Wear
Convention centres are HOT! Really hot. Unless they are empty. Then they are really cold.
So, if you are wearing Cosplay, be prepared to be very, very hot and probably uncomfortable. BUT you will have a ton of fun so probably won’t notice much.
If you are looking to make your own cosplay, there's a tutorial for everything! A little digging around will help.
If you are looking to buy a cosplay costume, make sure you get one from a reputable dealer.
However, if you are going in normal clothes, then dress for both:
- Wear your best geek t-shirt or dress
- Comfy jeans, short, skirt or any bottoms that are cool
- A pair of comfy shoes that don’t give you blisters
- A hat for when you go outside
- A light jacket
Contrary to what you may have heard, most convention-goers don’t care what you were. As long as you are comfortable, confident and having fun that is all that matters. So you could hide your fandoms completely, or you can be loud and proud. No one cares as long as you don’t ruin their enjoyment.
Comic-Con can be sneaky.
Especially for a first-timer.
You set out to not spend any money, but then you spot some cool art, plushies, even tattoo artists, and suddenly you’ve spent all your savings.
But before you start, you need to know one thing.
Counterfeit goods are everywhere at all Comic Cons.
Knockoff items can be a bit of an issue. They often cost just as much as a proper one but are much worse quality. Sometimes they look a bit wonky. Sometimes that might not be legal to sell. When you’re caught up in the moment, you might not notice.
Always check the labels - fabric and cardboard. All toys and electronics should have a CE logo. There should be licence information on labels.
The best thing to do is to take cash and try not to use credit or debit cards. This way, you can easily limit yourself.
People at Comic-Con are (mostly) fun. It’s the best place to meet people who love the same things as you.
Chat to the people around you in the queue. They may have the same interests as you or may put you on to something new. Make a note of names and conversations in your notepad.
If there is a bar, then you can hang out there and meet other like-minded people too.
Additionally, most conventions will have a Facebook or discord group for you to hang out in post-convention.
Post Convention Self-Care
After a convention, there are a few things that will happen.
- Comic-Con Blues will hit
- Con Flu will floor even the healthiest people
- Sore throats will happen
- You will ache and hurt in places you didn’t know could ache and hurt.
So there are a few tips on how to look after yourself post-convention.
After most conventions, you may feel a little down. So much excitement in one weekend is a lot for some. If you are already suffering from mental health issues, then Post Con Blues is something you need to be aware of.
We’re not here to give you advice on this, as everyone deals with it differently. But make sure you have all your usual coping mechanisms in place ready for the comedown.
You are in a room full of people. Colds and Flu will spread. Make sure you eat lots of fruit and vegetables to the run-up to a convention. These will help your immune system. At the very least, try to increase your vitamin C levels.
If you do come down with it, then make sure you have Vick, Tissues, honey and lemon and Sheldon Cooper singing Soft Kitty. It does help. We don’t know why.
Aches and Pains
Take a bath as soon as you get back. And do some stretches. This will help ease the aches the next day.
Foot moisturiser is also good for tired, achy feet.
Book the day after a convention off of work
If you have holiday left, take the following day off work for recovery. You will thank us later.
Most of all… Enjoy!
Conventions are fun, so enjoy it your way. Go to your panels, get your autographs and make the best of it. You are going to love it! Don’t forget to tag your pictures on Comic Conventions.info’s Instagram page!