More than 82,000 people are expected to pack downtown Atlanta over the Labor Day weekend as Dragon Con, the internationally known pop culture, sci fi, fantasy, and gaming convention, returns for its 31st year. Dragon Con, making Labor Day Atlanta’s favorite holiday, is scheduled for the four-day weekend – Friday, September 1 through Monday, September 4 – with events and activities across five host hotels, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Westin Peachtree, and Sheraton Atlanta, and AmericasMart Buildings #1 and #2.
Dragon Con fans will travel from every state in the nation and several foreign countries to meet their favorite actors, artists, authors, and creators, make new friends, and talk about the stuff they love. More than 400 guests, from the worlds of movies, television, comics, literature, and other universes, will lead panel discussions, meet with fans, take photos and sign autographs. This year, Dragon Con will offer a live internet streamed version of DragonConTV; this is really cool for those who can’t attend in person; more about that later.
Some of this year’s top guests include comic book legend Stan Lee, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Ming-Na Wen, and a pair of fan favorite captains – Star Trek’s William Shatner and Firefly’s Nathan Fillion. Star Trek fans will be able to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation with several of the show’s main characters including Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and Marina Sirtis.
“We are delighted to have so many guests from so many of today’s most popular or, in the case of classic science fiction, best loved shows and movies to join us this year,” convention co-chair Rachel Reeves said.
Attending DragonCon 2017:
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, which is both the oldest continuously run competition in fandom as well as one of the largest in the world. Jason David Frank of Power Rangers fame will host. The Chôsen, which is part of Dragon Con Night at the Aquarium, will be emceed by Clare Kramer (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville).
The always popular Dragon Con Parade steps off on Saturday, September 2 at 10 a.m. While the parade is expected to attract a large crowd – it is free and everyone is invited – it will also be broadcast live on television by Atlanta’s CW69, with a rebroadcast during primetime.
The parade route remains the same as past years. Beginning at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Linden Avenue, the parade will head south on Peachtree, east (left) on Andrew Young International Boulevard and north (left) on Peachtree Center Avenue. It will end on Peachtree Center Avenue between John Portman Boulevard and Baker Street, in front of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. The route is convenient to three MARTA stations – North Avenue, Civic Center and Peachtree Center. Parking downtown is expected to be tight, and Dragon Con encourages parade spectators to consider taking MARTA.
Muppeteer Martin P. Robinson, best known for performing Mr. Snuffleupagus, Telly Monster, and Slimey the Worm on Sesame Street since 1981, and Lisa Henson, chief executive of The Jim Henson Company, lead a strong cast of puppetry guests.
Dragon Con’s gaming programming takes up a combined 140,000 square feet in Americas Mart Building One and adjacent Westin Peachtree Plaza, making it one of the largest gaming conventions in the nation. Panels, contests, and parties will be held in the Westin while free gaming, paid tournaments, and similar events will be held in AmericasMart. As always gaming will be open to all Dragon Con members 24/7 for the convention.
New this year, Dragon Con has added cash-prize eSports, sometimes called professional gaming, streamed over the Twitch platform, to its slate of game-specific programming. Dragon Con attendees will be able to see events live, watching professional players and teams compete for cash prizes while their gameplay is broadcast to viewers at home via Twitch.
Special Olympics Georgia is Dragon Con’s official charity for 2017. Through auctions and other charity events, plus a dollar-for-dollar match up to $100,000 from Dragon Con, the convention will raise money to support this important community organization. Since 2013, the convention has consistently raised more than $100,000 for each of its annual official charities, including a $50,000 match from the convention. This year, the convention announced that it will increase its dollar-for-dollar match to up to $100,000.
Pat Henry, president of Dragon Con, Inc., the parent company of the Dragon Con convention, said increasing the match amount was a challenge to Dragon Con fans to raise more money for Special Olympics Georgia than for any charity in the past.
Dragon Con also conducts the largest convention-based blood drive in the nation. In 2016, 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 hospital in the Atlanta area and 110 hospitals in the Southeast.
Dragon Con will offer a live internet streamed version of DragonConTV’s start to finish coverage of the convention on a subscription basis for the 2017 convention. DragonConTV provides in-depth coverage of the four-day convention, delivering live broadcasts of guest panels, costume competitions, the Dragon Con Parade and other key events, one-on-one interviews with guests, and, of course, fan-produced comedy content including commercial parodies, music videos, sketches, and satirical bumpers.
In addition to watching DragonConTV live over the Labor Day weekend, a DVR feature will allow subscribers to revisit their favorite programming for three months following the convention, through December 4th. The “Dragon Con DVR” will also contain additional convention coverage that wasn’t broadcast live, as well as select “classic” programming from past conventions.
“Our fans have been asking for this kind of service for several years, but it took some time to put into place,” Reeves said. “We had to solve both the technical issues associated with streaming a convention of our size as well as contractual obligations with our guests.”
A limited version of the service to test the technology was offered to members only at last year’s convention. The live streaming service, nearly identical to the video carried on the in-house channels of the five host hotels, will be available for $30 to fans who cannot attend the convention. Members – those purchasing at least a single day DragonCon badge – will be able to subscribe for $10. Pre-convention sales of streaming subscriptions are available to members through August 26 at the Dragon Con online store at store.dragoncon.org and through dragoncon.tv/purchase for those not attending the convention. Subscriptions will also be available during the convention at Onsite Registration and the Dragon Con retail stores.
The internet stream is scheduled to start Thursday, August 31st at 12:00pm and will conclude Monday, September 4th at 2:00pm. For more information on this service, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions document on dragoncon.tv/faq.
Dragon Con is the internationally known pop culture convention held each Labor Day in Atlanta. Organized for fans, Dragon Con features more than about 3,000 hours of comics, film, television, costuming, art, music, and gaming over four days. For more information, please visit www.dragoncon.org and follow on Facebook and Twitter.