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What you need to know about the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo

By RACHAEL FREY and SILVIA PIKAL 

GET READY TO ROCK THE EXPO

Here are some tips on how to prep for the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, from eating waffles with a distinct dark side to strutting your stuff in the parade.

GET FITTED LIKE YOUR FAV

Whether you want to terrify your fellow Calgary Expo fans with a Night King mask or lighten the mood in Deadpool’s skin-tight outfit, The Costume Shoppe has you covered with a large selection of themed costumes. Don’s Hobby Shop is where to go for special effects make-up to bring out your inner orc, or dress up like a demogorgon in honour of Stranger Things actor David Harbour’s appearance at the expo.

USE THE FORK, LUKE

Do your part to destroy the Death Star with fork and knife at Yellow Door Bistro. Their Death Star waffle swings into orbit for Calgary Expo and returns for “May the Fourth Be With You” on May 4th.

MARCH OF THE COSPLAYERS

If you’ve ever wanted to see the Sailor Scouts, Chewbacca and Beetlejuice strolling together, the POW! Parade of Wonders is for you. At this kick-off event to Calgary Expo, thousands of Calgarians swagger down Stephen Avenue in their costumed best.

Fourteen years ago, the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo began with a respectable 3,000 attendees. Numbers held steady for a couple years, and then they started to climb — drastically. This year from April 25 – 28, the Calgary Expo is expected to bring in around 100,000 fans to celebrate their love of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and all things pop culture.

The annual convention features celebrity guests, panel discussions on pop culture topics and hundreds of exhibitors selling everything from rare and vintage collectibles to comics, memorabilia, themed merchandise and original works of art.

Yelaina May, a local cosplayer who has created an impressive arsenal of costumes, began cosplaying after she attended the expo for the first time.

“Calgary Expo will always hold a special place in my heart,” she says. “It is what started my hobby and something I look forward to every year.”

For the uninitiated, “cosplay” is short for costume play. It’s a mash-up of performance and visual arts in which participants — known as cosplayers — wear clothing and accessories to represent a specific character, often from pop culture.

Many cosplayers spend months working on elaborate outfits to show them off at events like Calgary Expo, which attracts cosplayers of all types and skill levels.

“There are always amazing, master level cosplayers, the people that do it just for fun and the joy of creation, the people that are just starting and figuring out what they are into,” May says.

If you’re looking to get into the cosplay game, May has some advice — above all, have fun and enjoy yourself.

Photo by Yelaina May Cosplay.

“Find a character you love and just go for it! Lots of people overthink everything. You will learn by making mistakes, so don’t expect to make every piece perfectly the first time. I still, after five years, remake at least one part of every costume. Or, if you aren’t a crafty person, there is no shame in buying a costume. If it’s a character you are passionate about, it will make all the struggles of building it worth it. You will find someone else who loves that character as much as you and it will be awesome.”

Speaking of characters, expect to see some big names from movies and television at the Calgary Expo. Back to the Future fans will be psyched — Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Tom Wilson and James Tolkan are scheduled for appearances. You can also rub elbows with Sean Astin of Lord of the Rings and Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson, among others.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for May, who will be cosplaying Aloy from the video game Horizon Zero Dawn, Wonder Woman from the new movies, and Sadie Adler from the video game Red Dead Redemption 2. She says the thing she’s most looking forward to is just being there.

“There is something about the atmosphere of being around a bunch of like-minded people looking at awesome geeky things or watching cool panels that nothing else can beat,” May says. “It is the most exhausting weekend of my year, but also my favourite!”

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