Comic-Con International: San Diego

It’s officially called Comic-Con International: San Diego, but for the legions of fans who flock to the world’s largest and most high-profile convention, it’s simply known as Comic-Con.

From its humble beginnings in 1970, Comic-Con now hosts more than 125,000 visitors annually who come to celebrate comics and related pop culture and art forms with hundreds of presentations, exhibits, museums, and other public outreach activities.  

The event has outgrown more than 450,000 square feet of Convention Center space with programming and panels, the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, and the Eisner Awards, all taking place nearby and creating a campus-type feel for attendees.  Admission tickets routinely sell out on the same day they go on sale, but you can often buy tickets from resellers, usually at an inflated price.

Attending is a unique experience as many attendees love to dress in elaborate costumes celebrating their favorite comic, sci-fi, superhero, anime, or other fantasy characters.  The colorful and creative rival and surpass Mardi Gras in many ways!

Be prepared for the crowds. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of exhibitors at Comic-Con, and chances are you’ll find comics and web series you've never heard of, as well as all of your favorites. Those elaborate costumes, the Marvel versus DC fanboys, the big families, and the Lord of the Rings faithful will all come together in tight spaces, so be prepared to say “excuse me” and have lots of patience. 

Comic-Con has become an essential event for industry insiders who often reveal news about upcoming projects, creating headline-breaking entertainment news.  Celebrities, directors, writers, and studio heads are common and often appear in panels to discuss their latest projects, interact with fans, and, most importantly, have a lot of fun.

Many panels are such hot tickets that you should plan to wait in line for several hours and possibly even camp out overnight if there are one or two “must-attend” events that stand out above several hundred offerings.

Getting to the Convention Center is relatively easy with a bit of planning.  You can park onsite or nearby, take public transit, or use Comic-Con shuttles that operate 24 hours to and from hotels in many neighborhoods.

Food options are also plentiful. This is especially important if you plan to extend your stay before or after Comic-Con. The Convention Center is adjacent to the Gaslamp Quarter, the waterfront, and other nearby high-traffic locations, so you’ve got many food choices in addition to those offered inside Comic-Con.