Dubbed the “biggest, geekiest sci-fi convention in Atlantic Canada”, HalCon doesn’t disappoint in size or in science fiction and fantasy. Thankfully, it takes place less than an hour’s drive from home in downtown Halifax.
HalCon began in 2010, and since then, it has grown by leaps and bounds. Last year, they had so many people arrive on Saturday, the fire marshal closed the doors and wouldn’t let anyone else in until someone left. This is a problem most events would love to have.
From HalCon’s About page, we learn Nova Scotia has a history of conventions. They existed from the 1970s to the 1990s but eventually disappeared. In 2008, the idea to revive such an event took root. Two years of planning and fundraising created the first HalCon which took place at the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax. It turned out to be such a success, that it moved to the World Trade & Conventional Centre in 2011.
What started out as a 1,500-fan attendance in 2010, transformed into 6,400 attendees in 2014. This year, it included floor space at the World Trade & Conventional Centre and the attached Scotia Centre (the Mero Centre for the locals who have known it as that for decades).
From my experience, if you want a ticket to HalCon that takes place in October, you better buy it when they go on sale in the spring or shortly afterwards. VIP, weekend passes, children’s passes and Saturday admission tickets were sold out by the end of May this year.
HalCon is not just about having a great time, the Charity Auction they hold—which netted more than $25,000 in 2012—is donated to the Isaac Walton Killam Children’s Hospital (IWK) in Halifax and The Kids Help Phone.
Why is HalCon so popular? Well, we could say there are a lot of fantasy and science fiction geeks in Nova Scotia. Or we could say the organisers put on a great show and create an atmosphere where we can celebrate the magic of both genres. Or it could be the celebrities, such as Billy Dee Williams, Peter Davison, John Rhy-Davies and Erin Gray, who come to meet their fans. Maybe it’s just that for one weekend, people are allowed to dress up in their favourite character’s costume and have fun as if the world outside doesn’t exist, only the fantasies created in books, comics, films, television and games.
Or we could say it’s all these things that keep HalCon growing and expanding in ways perhaps the creators never expected.
To learn more, visit Halcon’s website. There you’ll see the line-up of guests who attended this year’s conference. Also, if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer for the next HalCon, check out the volunteer page.
Stay tuned for my review of this year’s HalCon coming Thursday. If you’re a writer of fantasy, science fiction or the unknown, you might want to consider attending the event, perhaps even becoming a vendor.