Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 8/24/21

Dragon Con, the internationally known science fiction, fantasy, and gaming convention, returns to downtown Atlanta for Labor Day weekend, balancing the awesome joy of a large pop culture gathering with significant efforts to reduce the spread of COVID.

Fans wearing the latest cosplay will be seen in downtown Atlanta for the first time since 2019. Cultural icon William Shatner, Oscar nominees Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, and a host of other celebrities from the worlds of television, movies, comics, literature, and gaming will be on hand to greet fans, lead discussions, and sign autographs during this year’s convention.

An estimated 40,000 people are expected to attend Dragon Con, now in its 35th year, over the five-day Labor Day Weekend – Sept. 2 to Sept. 6 – with events and activities across AmericasMart Buildings One and Two and five host hotels – Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Westin Peachtree, and Sheraton Atlanta.

Still, Dragon Con has implemented a series of protocols to help reduce the spread of COVID, including a requirement that all attendees show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arriving at the convention in order to pick up their badges.

Only badge-holding Dragon Con members will be allowed to watch this year’s Dragon Con Parade from city sidewalks along the parade route.  Instead, we encourage people to stay home and watch the parade on CW69 or YouTube.

Other changes include requiring all fans to wear a mask while inside a convention venue and a 50 percent reduction in the number of memberships sold for this year’s convention.

No badges will be sold on site. If badges are available, they will be available through www.Growtix.com.

For fans who are not comfortable attending a live convention, Dragon Con Goes Virtual is a live-streamed version of the convention with live convention coverage as well as exclusive pre-recorded content and highlights from past conventions that fans can enjoy from the comfort of their own home in the company of close friends and family.  A Dragon Con Goes Virtual subscription is $10.

Guests – In addition to Star Trek’s Shatner and Battlestar Galactica’s Olmos and McDonnell, Doctor Who’s Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, Star Trek Discovery’s Sonequa Martin Green and Mary Wiseman, and a brace of Supermen – Smallville’s Tom Welling and Superman and Lois’ Taylor Hoechlin – lead a parade of stars from some of the best-known television and movies of the last 40 years.

More than 200 guests – actors, authors, artists, and creators of all kinds – will lead panel discussions and meet with fans, who will recognize guests from Shazam!, The Boys, American GodsThe Walking Dead, the Harry Potter franchise, and Supernatural, as well as voice actors from animated series The Animaniacs, Star Wars the Clone Wars, and Steven Universe, and video games OverwatchDuke Nukem, and Mass Effect.

For an older generation of fans, the convention also welcomes Kathy Coleman and Wesley Eure from the Sid & Marty Krofft-produced Saturday morning television series Land of the Lost.

Hall of Fame professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page will appear at Thursday Night Wrestling and meet with fans during the convention.

Gaming – One of the largest gaming conventions in the nation, Dragon Con offers a basement full of games, from the latest and most popular video games to rarely seen board games, along with discussions with the game designers responsible for the games people love to play.

Overall, Dragon Con offers more than 140,000 square feet of gaming, featuring the full array of gaming including PC and console games, board games, miniatures gaming, role-playing games, collectable card games, and even LARP games. ‘Round the clock gaming is free to Dragon Con members starting Thursday, Sept. 2 at 4 pm.

In addition to all the gaming in Americas Mart Building One and Westin Peachtree Hotel, Joystick Game Bar will hold an American arcade experience with tons of favorite – and free to play for Dragon Con members – cabinet games at 161 Peachtree Center Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303, from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. each day.  A $10 cover is required for non-members.

Cosplay – Dragon Con is well known for the quality of its cosplay – or costume play – and that tradition will certainly continue. The nation’s top cosplayers will show off their best work during the show, participating in costume contests every night of the convention and promenading throughout the five host hotels and the streets of downtown Atlanta.

Cosplay competitions remain a mainstay of Dragon Con, including the queen of competitions, Dragon Con Masquerade, the oldest continuously-run competition in fandom, as well as the craftsmanship-focused Friday Night Costume Contest and the low-key and fan-voted Hallway Costume Contest, which will also have a virtual component for those fans joining the convention from home.

Parade – The world-famous Dragon Con Parade will be broadcast live on CW69 (WUPA-TV) and YouTube beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4.

Only badge-holding Dragon Con members can watch this year’s Dragon Con parade from route, a health and safety measure adopted to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Official Charity – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta is the official charity for 2021.

Since 2013, the convention has consistently raised more than $100,000 for each of its annual official charities, including a dollar-for-dollar match from the convention up to an additional $100,000.  Funds are raised through convention-based auctions, special merchandise sales, special events, and the convention match.

In addition to fundraising, Dragon Con conducts the largest convention-based blood drive in the nation. In 2019, 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.

About Dragon Con

Dragon Con is the internationally known pop culture convention held each Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 2 -Sept. 6, 2021) in Atlanta. Organized for fans, Dragon Con features more than 3,500 hours of comics, film, television, costuming, art, music, and gaming over four days. For more information, please visit www.dragoncon.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.