Dragon Con began as a small science fiction convention in Atlanta during the fall of 1987 and has since grown to become one of the largest pop culture gatherings in the world. Conceived by a group with multiple interests in pop culture and science fiction, this convention celebrates comic books, gaming, television, movies and literature. Dragon Con is described as an event that is “for the fans, by the fans,” and it will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year over Labor Day weekend.
“Before Dragon Con, conventions stuck to a single genre,” said Pat Henry, president and founder, Dragon Con. “Science fiction conventions were for fans of science fiction literature, gaming conventions were for gamers and comic book conventions were largely retail events. Because we are fans too, we knew that most people have more than one interest. We decided to put all of those things together, so fans always had too much to do.”
Dragon Con’s inaugural event was held in 1987 with 1,200 attendees and has seen steady growth ever since. Last year, the convention welcomed 70,000 fans and took place in five hosting hotels in downtown Atlanta.
What has possibly become the most iconic component of Dragon Con is the parade, where thousands of attendees – also known as “cosplayers” – dress up as their favorite pop culture character and march down Atlanta’s famed Peachtree Street. This will be a milestone year for Dragon Con in more ways than one as the parade will be televised locally for the first time.
Organizers have worked hard to make the 30th Dragon Con an unforgettable experience by adding more than 200,000 square feet of exhibit space to expand programming and gaming along with creating one of the most impressive guest lineups in its history. William Shatner, best known as Captain Kirk from the original Star Trek series, will appear at Dragon Con as the series celebrates 50 years. Other guests include Brian Henson, puppeteer and son of the late Jim Henson, actor Alan Tudyk of Firefly and actress Gillian Anderson from The X-Files.
“Atlanta is a great city for popular culture,” said Henry. “I'm not sure Dragon Con would have been as successful anywhere else, and we are proud to call it home.”
The 30th annual Dragon Con begins Friday, Sept. 2, and spectators can catch the parade on Peachtree Street Saturday, Sept. 3 at 10 a.m.