Atlantic Canada’s premier party for "geek culture" is coming together fully in-person this weekend for the first time since 2019.
Sidelined in 2020 and scaled down the following year, organizers of Hal-Con are thrilled to be re-launching its 2022 sci-fi and fantasy convention at the Halifax Convention Centre today through Sunday.
“This is right up there with some of the best ones we’ve had,” says Jarrod Peckham, Hal-Con’s director of marketing about this year’s convention. “I mean, there is a lot to like here in the guest list we have — from our actor guests to our writers and comic book guests and our cosplayers — so I think we are really able to deliver something here that is what we strive for.”
Since 1977, when Hal-Con was a small celebration held at Dalhousie University, it has been a unifying event in Halifax.
Although the kitschy affair had faded away by the mid-1980s, the modern Hal-Con was revived in 2008 and quickly began finding a fan-base, not only by attracting some of the biggest names in science fiction, fantasy, comic-books and the gaming world, but by acting as a safe meeting place for diehard fans of so-called geek culture — who often dress extravagantly in honour of their favourite superhero, video game character or pop-culture personality.
Considering this year follows two and a half years of various COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, Peckham is anticipating an enthusiastic crowd in attendance.
“Really, this has been building for two years. We have been waiting to come to this type of convention since lockdown happened,” says Peckham, adding that although there was a scaled down affair last year, it isn’t the same as being a fully in-person party.
“We are really excited to come back to full-size and be able to offer all the things that people have come to expect from Hal-Con.”
Among those offerings is what is likely the convention’s biggest draw — celebrities. Each year, Hal-Con invites some of the biggest names in genre entertainment and this year is no different.
“We are really excited about the line-up we have,” adds Peckham. “We worked for a fair bit of time (and) some of these guests we’ve been trying to get since before the pandemic but because of the pandemic we were not able to do it. Now we are able to deliver the type of guest line-up convention that we are truly happy about.”
Leading the charge this year is English actor Cary Elwes, best known for his lead roles in the cult-classic movie The Princess Bride, Robin Hood: Men in Tights and the Saw horror film franchise.
Other exciting guests coming to Hal-Con include Scottish actor Graham McTavish, who is best known for his role as Dougal McKenzie in the popular TV series, Outlander and Summer Glau, who has starred in the cult sci-fi hit Firefly and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Among the many others making appearances will be voice-actor Will Friedle (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy), D.J. MacHale (co-creator of Nickelodeon series, Are You Afraid of the Dark?), comic book artist Gene Ha (Wonder Woman) and competitive cosplayer Nana Cosplayer — who has more than 25 years in historical costuming.
However, Hal-Con isn’t just about celebrity-sightings. The yearly event also includes everything from contests to demonstrations to gaming and panels ranging a wide variety of topics.
“The programming is going to be unique every year,” notes Peckham. “This year, some of the things that we have that we hadn’t had before is the Discovery Gala on Saturday night.”
This “little shindig” presented by the Atlantic Lottery Commission will be a fun evening of drinks, hors d’oeuvres and schmoozing at the Discovery Centre.
“We’re going to have a big old party there with glitz and glamour so that’s a pretty exciting event,” adds Peckham.
Even if people don’t sign up for that ticketed event, Peckham insists that this year’s Hal-Con will have plenty on offer for all to enjoy.
“We have some new vendors coming as well,” he adds. “So lots of things to check out, lots of new things to see if you haven’t been in a while or if it’s your first time — we’d love to see you there this weekend.”
For more information on Hal-Con, visit its website.
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For first time since 2019, Hal-Con returns to 'full-size' and in-character – Halifax.CityNews.ca