Dragon Con’s 2021 In-Person Event Returns This Labor Day Weekend

A group of cosplayers pose together at Dragon Con 2018.

Courtesy of Dragon Con

Since 1987, throngs of costumed enthusiasts from every nook and cranny of pop culture fandom have gathered at Dragon Con, a sprawling and genre-sweeping convention that takes place over Labor Day Weekend in Atlanta. Last year, the convention had to be reinvented as a virtual-only experience, due to COVID. It returns this year for an in-person celebration across five Downtown hotels, along with its annual costume parade down Peachtree Street.

On August 1, the organizations of Dragon Con revised their safety and health protocols due to the rise of the Delta variant. All attendees will be required to wear a mask, panel discussions will have reduced capacity, and the beloved Dragon Con parade will not allow spectators. Only badge holders can watch from the sidelines.

The parade will be broadcasted live via CW69, YouTube, and other social media platforms.
Annually, the free parade attracts up to 75 thousand people each year. With these new regulations, the organizers are hoping it will scale the attendance back significantly.

Additionally, Dragon Con will be requiring all attendees who attend the live convention to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arrival before entering the convention.

Fans can purchase a “Dragon Con Goes Virtual” subscription for 10 dollars. This will also give them access to watch the parade online.

Dan Carroll, one of the directors of Dragon Con, joined “City Lights” senior producer Kim Drobes via Zoom to share his excitement for the Con’s triumphant return.

Interview highlights:

A convention for fans, by fans:

“Even though we bring, on an average year, over 100 celebrity guests and 300 other guests who are writers, and astronauts and creators of all types, the real star of Dragon Con is our attendee base. Because not only are they a giant family that welcomes anybody who comes… they’re also participating in something they don’t get to do all the time… exploring not just the costuming, but their friendship.”

“Every convention does something awesome, but what we do awesome is mix that Southern hospitality that you can only get in Atlanta, with this ever-growing family of folks coming from around the world,” said Carroll.

Costumes, the heart and soul of Dragon Con:

“Over the past fifteen years, we have really taken off as a costuming mecca around the world… as one cosplayer once said, it’s the place where everybody debuts their best costume of the year,” said Carroll. “So folks from around the world come to show, very often, television- or film-accurate costumes, and get together and just enjoy themselves for five days of… being able to express themselves and be who they want to be.”

“A few years back, a gentleman had a costume where he was dressed as a giant iron, like for an ironing board, and in the middle, he had an arc reactor, and he was ‘Iron Man.’”

On Dragon Con’s lesser-known blood drive and charity outreach:

“We are really excited about our blood drive, the largest convention-based blood drive… We set records,” said Carroll. “If you come to Dragon Con, give a unit of blood and get yourself a t-shirt. It’s definitely worthwhile.”

“We had chosen for [charity support] Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Atlanta. It’s a charity that’s important to me because I was a Big Brother for a while,” said Carroll. “I know this charity changes people’s lives. So, when the live show was postponed [in 2020], we decided to bring forward the Big Brothers, Big Sisters into Dragon Con 2021 as our charity, and we are hoping to raise a lot of money.”

Listeners can learn more about Dragon Con 2021, and find updates on COVID safety protocols, at www.dragoncon.org.