The vast umbrella of geek culture covers nearly all pop culture these days in one regard or another, but if you’re looking to dress up and come together with like-minded fans to celebrate the original pillars of geekiness — video games, comic books (and all they’ve inspired), anime and science fiction — these upcoming conventions in Tampa have you covered and then some.
It’s all about video games, and especially gaming personalities who broadcast live on Twitch. There’s also a big charity component that raises money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. It’s a great place to meet streamers and watch some live gaming.
Things to do: The Texas Gamer Lounge features classic and newer arcade machines, as well as tournaments with prizes. The main stage hosts developer showcases, trailer reveals, live tournaments and panels including one on the evolution of gaming, a FIFA exhibition and a Fortnite Charity Blitz. There will be live podcast recordings in the surrounding theaters, a discussion on gaming and mental health, plus lots of big name industry exhibitors and vendors.
Who’ll be there: Ninja, Fortnite player and currently the most popular Twitch streamer in the world, as well as streamers DrLupo, Professor Broman, Gothalion and dozens more, plus reps from Bungie, the creators of Destiny and Halo, and other companies.
If you go: July 13 and 14,Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St, Tampa. $30 to $50. guardiancon.co.
Dedicated primarily to anime and manga, this con features some of the most creative cosplay you’ll see all year (this year’s theme: guardians vs. invaders). Fans praise it for putting more emphasis on the community-run fan panels, and less on celebrity guests and shopping.
Things to do: The Anime Human Chess Match, "a unique fusion of renaissance faire combat chess and scripted cosplay" has been happening since 2004. There’s also the annual Masquerade party, stand up and sketch comedy shows, the LARP Dungeon and the Kaiju Big Battel, an utterly weird event blending pro wrestling, pop culture and "the nastiest monsters this side of the Sea of Japan."
Who’ll be there: Lots of voice actors, celebrity cosplayers and some of the guys from Rooster Teeth’s ScrewAttack channel.
If you go: July 19 to 22, Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St, Tampa. $30 to $85. metroconventions.com.
TAMPA BAY COMIC CON
This one draws a big crowd, with hundreds of vendors selling comic books, toys, clothes and every geeky novelty you can think of, and an emphasis on celebrity guests, superheroes and popular TV (think Walking Dead and Game of Thrones).
Things to do: They switch up the special events every year, and have yet to announce 2018’s lineup, but the main cosplay contest, celebrity panels, speed dating and RPG gaming areas and classic arcade machines are always popular.
Who’ll be there: Val Kilmer (Batman), Rory McCann (Game of Thrones), David Harbour (Stranger Things), Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter), Brent Spiner (Star Trek) and lots of cartoon voice actors and comic book artists and writers.
If you go: Aug. 3 to 5, Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St, Tampa $30 to $60, tampabaycomiccon.com.
MEGACON TAMPA BAY
This sister-con to Orlando’s massive MegaCon Orlando casts a wide net in terms of genre and brings out fans of pretty much anything people geek out over, though you could say it leans a little more science fiction than superhero in comparison to Tampa bay Comic Con. This will be their third year in Tampa.
Things to do: This year will feature a Harry Potter-themed escape room, an opportunity to blast a Star Wars Storm Trooper with a Nerf gun, photo-ops with the Delorean used in Back to the Future, vintage arcade and console games, costume contests, "nerd improv" comedy, workshops, Q&As, vendors and more.
Who’ll be there: Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie (Doctor Who), some Star Trek: The Next Generation actors and more.
If you go: Sept. 21 to 23, Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St, Tampa, $15 to $69, megacontampabay.com
Fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror novels have been coming to this smaller convention, named after the H.P. Lovecraft’s term for a book of spells, since the early 1980s. It’s a good chance to buy a book and get it signed.
Things to do: The annual masquerade costume contest, the Necromi-Prom, an art show, a dealer’s room and lots of RPG, tabletop and card games.
Who’ll be there: This year’s honored guests will be writers Tonia Brown and Rick Wilbur, but there will be other authors there.
If you go: Oct. 19 to 21, Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore, 700 N Westshore Blvd., Tampa. $20 to $55. necrofl.com.
This convention spans the worlds of anime, video games and comic books, and draws around 4,000 to 5,000 attendees. The theme for the convention’s eighth year is "infinity."
Things to do: In addition to panels, video game tournaments and an eclectic dealer’s room, there are three main events: the Breakdance Breakdown, a breakdance comedy show with characters from anime, games and comics, Shado Shock, a fight show demonstrating character-specific weaponry and combat and A World Of, the romantic interactive dance show where guests can dance with the characters and each other, while a story plays out on stage.
Who’ll be there: If the lineup is similar to past years, they’ll have some voice actors there.
If you go: Nov. 2 to 4, Westshore Grand Hotel, 4860 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, $30 to $55, shadocon.com