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An Insider’s Guide to Horror’s Most Thrilling Events: Conventions

Horror conventions are gatherings of the most devoted and die-hard fans of the horror genre. At these spooky events, horrorphiles from all walks of life come together to celebrate their love of all things scary, from classic monsters like vampires and zombies to modern slashers and psychological thrillers.

At a horror convention, you’ll find a frightfully fun mix of horror merchandise, celebrity guests, screenings, panels, and sideshow attractions. You can shop from hundreds of vendors selling rare horror collectibles, get an autograph from your favorite scream queen or final girl, attend a Q&A with a legendary horror director, watch unreleased footage of an upcoming scary movie, or compete in a costume contest.

For horror fans, these conventions are a thrilling weekend escape into darkness and dread. You’ll be surrounded by fellow fright fans, making new fiendish friends. You never know which horror celebs might drop by or what terrifying treats are in store around every corner. Whether you prefer supernatural suspense, gory slashers, or creature features, horror conventions offer something for every variety of fear fanatic.

If you’ve ever felt like an outsider for your spooky tastes or struggled to find fellow horror aficionados, horror conventions are your chance to feel at home amongst kindred spirits. For one weekend, you can fully immerse yourself in horror fandom and all its ghastly glory. From chilling collectibles to spooky special guests, horror conventions are a chilling celebration of all things sinister and scary. Join the fun…if you dare!

A big thanks goes out to our editor Joey for getting all of these awesome pictures at Days of the Dead in Vegas.

Horror’s Most Hallowed Conventions

San Diego Comic-Con – While not purely a horror convention, SDCC hosts a massive horror presence, with panels, screenings, and exhibits dedicated to all things creepy and crawly. Horror highlights include sneak peeks at upcoming scary movies and TV shows, reunions of horror film casts, and aisles upon aisles of horror merchandise.

CreepyCon – The South’s premier horror convention gathers in Atlanta, GA every May. Guests include horror legends and rising stars, while events range from cult classic screenings to Q&As to live podcast recordings. Hundreds of vendors assemble to sell horror goods from DVDs and posters to clothing, toys, and beyond. Costume contest and live music provide added frights.

Scarefest – Head to Lexington, KY every fall for this chilling celebration. Catch one-of-a-kind reunions, world premieres, and uncut screenings of beloved scary movies. Meet famous faces of horror during autograph and photo op sessions. Peruse the massive marketplace of horror dealers, then rock out to spooky tunes at the horror-themed disco and karaoke.

Days of the Dead – This touring horror convention invades a new city each month, spreading terror from coast to coast. Events include Q&As and autograph sessions with dozens of horror celebs like Heather Langenkamp of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame. After the convention floor closes, the nighttime entertainment begins with horror-themed parties, live music, and the infamous Zombie Beauty Pageant.

Texas Frightmare Weekend – Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the horror celebrations. Held annually in Dallas, Texas Frightmare Weekend is the Southwest’s largest horror convention. Meet horror actors like George A. Romero and Tobe Hooper, catch never-before-seen horror flicks, rock out to spooky metal and punk bands, witness bizarre sideshow acts, or show off your own killer costume in the cosplay contest.  

Spooky Empire – What happens when you combine horror and Halloween? Spooky Empire, of course. This creepy convention kicks off the fall season each September in Orlando, FL with four days of sinister scares. Meet victims and villains from your favorite slasher flicks, catch spooktastic musical acts, attend ‘Spookytown’ panels discussing all aspects of horror, or test your terror threshold in one of the extreme haunts.

Meeting the Masters of Horror

One of the biggest draws of horror conventions are the legendary celebrity guests in attendance. Famous faces from horror films and TV line up for autographs, photo ops, and Q&A panels where they share behind-the-scenes stories from their most chilling works.

At CreepyCon, you might find cult horror director Frank Henenlotter of Basket Case and Brain Damage fame. Monster Mania regularly hosts stars of 1980s slashers like Tom Atkins from Halloween III or Lisa Wilcox from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4. Spooky Empire’s roster reads like a who’s who of horror history, with past guests including Elvira, Linda Blair from The Exorcist, and the Soska Sisters, modern “twisted twins of terror.”

Divas of horror are always a fan favorite, from brilliant final girls like Heather Langenkamp of A Nightmare on Elm Street to scream queens like Linnea Quigley and Debbie Rochon. At Crypticon, you can meet villainous vixens like Ursula from The Little Mermaid herself, Pat Carroll. 

Iconic horror villains also slay at conventions, giving fans a chance to confront the monsters and murderers that have hunted their nightmares. Examples include Tony Moran who played Michael Myers in the original Halloween, Andrew Divoff in Wishmaster, and Bill Moseley of The Devil’s Rejects.

For those craving a more extreme experience, choose a VIP ticket to dine with demons and sip cocktails with killers at an upscale evening event. In the past, Texas Frightmare Weekend and HorrorHound Weekend have both hosted private cocktail parties where horror VIPs candidly chat with fans over drinks.

While the Romeros, Savinis, and Argentos of horror regrettably pass on, new generations of horror influencers emerge and gain followings. Contemporary scream queen Felissa Rose of Sleepaway Camp and modern horror artist Vincent Castiglia are now mainstays of the convention scene, showing horror is always happily evolving.

The chance to meet horror history in the flesh is why so many fans flock to conventions year after year. Even if just for a brief moment, attendees can express their admiration and appreciation for those that have inspired countless nightmares and nurtured an enduring love of horror.

Terrors After Dark: Horror Doesn’t Sleep

Once the main convention floor closes, the after hours frights and delights emerge from the shadows. For those who dread the end of the day’s sinister events, horror cons keep the creepy revelry going late into the night with exclusive parties, shows, and other age-restricted entertainment.

Many cons host official late-night parties onsite with horror themes like a zombie prom, hellfire club, or vampire masquerade ball. Spooky cocktail menus, creepy decor, and appropriately eerie attire are encouraged. At Days of the Dead, you can show off your undead beauty queen skills in the Zombie Beauty Pageant, then shake a tailfeather – if you still have one – at the Zombie Prom.

Offsite club nights and concerts often run concurrently with major cons. CreepyCon offers convention-themed club nights with horror drink specials, costume contests, and ghoulish go-go dancers. Scarefest throws Spooktacular, a horror rock showcase featuring acts like The Independents and The Long Losts.

Private VIP events provide an upscale and intimate option for dedicated fright fans. Texas Frightmare Weekend and Monster Mania both host lavish multi-course dinners where guests can casually chat with featured horror celebs. Crypticon recently launched a series of speakeasy-themed evenings with craft cocktails, live jazz, and candid conversations with their most prestigious guests.

Those seeking maximum scares should attend an extreme haunt. These terrifying theatrical experiences are held after hours at some conventions. At Scarefest, you can face your fears at The Asylum, a disturbing horror maze with more phobias than any therapist’s handbook. Spooky Empire’s Lost Carnival puts your courageousness to the ultimate test with a variety of extreme scares and psychological mind games designed to torment your psyche long after escaping.

When the sun sets on horror conventions, a new kind of spooky story unfolds.  The after hours scene is where hardcore fans can fully immerse in horror hedonism – if their dispositions dare it. These sinister soirees separate the mere screamers from those who are always game for some late-night scares, continuing the celebration of horror in the dark where it’s meant to dwell. The real question is, just how deep into horror do you descend once the lights go out?

Survival Tips for Your First Horror Con

Your first horror convention can be thrilling yet overwhelming. Follow these tips to maximize scares and avoid meltdowns during your premiere creepy convention experience.

Buy tickets early. Tickets often sell out, especially for big name guests and events. Get all tickets, passes, and add-ons well ahead of time.

Make a schedule. Review the schedule of events beforehand and choose what you want to prioritize. Allow time for exploring, shopping, and spontaneous discoveries too.

Dress to distress. Wear comfortable black clothing or an elaborate costume to blend in with fellow fright fans. Costumes are welcomed but not required. Consider your footwear carefully as you’ll be on your feet for hours walking, standing in lines, and running from scare actors. 

Meet the guests. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet horror celebs. Bring items for autographs and take photos with them. Be polite and express your appreciation for their work. 

Explore the vendor floor. Haggle for spooky souvenirs, discover indie horror creators, and find rare collectibles. But budget wisely as it’s easy to overspend!

Ask questions. Not sure what’s allowed or where something is located? Ask staff or seasoned attendees. Most horror fans are happy to help a newb navigate.

Take breaks. Conventions can be draining. Take time to rest, eat, stay hydrated and recharge. You’ll enjoy all the frights and madness much more if you avoid exhaustion. 

Extend the fear. Head to after hours events like extreme haunts, horror concerts, or themed parties to keep the spooks going all night long. Or hit nearby horror hotspots.

 cherish the memories. Take lots of photos and video to capture your first con experience. Get pics with new friends, spooky souvenirs, costumes, and of course, your fave horror stars!

Go again next year. The best part about your first con is looking forward to the terror that awaits you at the next one. You’ll make frightful friendships and traditions to last for years of horror cons to come.

Welcome to the beginning of a spooktacular new tradition. Follow these tips to start your horror con experience off right, then surrender to wherever the scares may lead you! The tribe of horror fans awaits to embrace you as their own. Let the thrills and madness begin!

The darkness of horror conventions is calling your name. Will you enter willingly?

Horror conventions offer a monstrous amount of mayhem and mischief for all manner of fear freaks and fiends. Whether you prefer supernatural scares, splatter and gore, psychological thrills or worldly weirdness, horror cons provide a spooktacular selection to satisfy your sinister tastes.

Behind the blood and guts lies a community filled with creativity and passion. Horror conventions are where indie artists, actors, directors, authors and more gather to celebrate the genre they love and reach the fans who love them back. Attending a horror con supports and nurtures an industry devoted to darkness.

Your first horror convention is a rite of passage into a realm where the bizarre is the norm and terror is celebrated. Cross the threshold into horror’s hallowed halls, where you’ll form frightful new friendships to last beyond the event. The memories you make will return to haunt you forever after in the best of ways. 

The horrors that await at a convention are far more fun than should be allowed. Surrender to curiosity and purchase your tickets now…while they’re still available. The peculiar and uncanny call to you. Confront your deepest fears and darkest delights.

Enter freely and leave your inhibitions behind. All are welcome in the sinister playgrounds of horror cons. Escape into a world of dread where nightmares come out to play.

What scares and shenanigans will you seek out? Miss them if you dare, but these realms of horror may disappear into the darkness just as quickly as they came until the next con. 

The sinister surprises in store at horror’s premiere events can only fully be known by venturing bravely into the recesses of horror conventions yourself. Dare to discover the terrors and thrills lurking within, creating memories to haunt you forevermore. 

Join the tribes of fellow fiends. Descend into their dreak domain. Welcome to the beginning of your obsession. The horror convention scene eagerly awaits to embrace you as one of their own…if you’re brave enough to enter the depths of their ghoulish revelry.

Justin
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