By Nico Cassar
What do you like? Celebrities, anime, cosplay, gaming, sci-fi, horror, comics, shopping? Whatever it may be, you will find it at Fan Expo.
Canada's first Fan Expo was in 1995 with a measly 1,500 people attending. Whereas nowadays, hundreds of thousands of fans from across North America gather at the Metro Toronto Conventions Center for Fan Expo 2022. Fan Expo is an annual event held in Toronto for pop culture fans of all kinds. It is a 4-day event held in August. It’s the largest expo in Canada and the third largest in North America. It’s made a big comeback after a 3-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
A big factor that played into the large attendance was that there were restrictions due to the pandemic. In October 2021, there was a limited version of the expo due to COVID-19. As a result, there were fewer tickets available, and proof of vaccination, and masks were required. As expected, the attendance was much less, occupying only two parts of the building rather than the entire centre.
Why was it so popular this year? With everyone being home for the past 2 years, people have expanded their interests into more categories of pop culture. This created many new fans of different content, genres and franchises. For Example, the video game Genshin Impact, shows including Arcane: League of Legends, Squid Game and Stranger Things. There was a significant increase in anime and manga consumption as well, which was evident at the expo.
People like conventions because they are surrounded by others with a shared passion and dedication for their hobbies. Whether or not your interests are mainstream, you will always be able to find people with similar interests at these conventions.
The celebrity guest list is always a big draw, and expectedly, the celebrity guest list did not disappoint this year. Guests included all the Hobbits from Lord of the Rings, Robert Englund from A Nightmare on Elm Street and Stranger Things, William Shatner from Star Trek and possibly the biggest attraction, cast members of Stranger Things.
The long-awaited release and success of Stranger Things season 4, meant people were ecstatic when it was announced that Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Jamie Campbell Bower (Vecna), Grace Van Dien (Chrissy Cunningham) and Joseph Quinn (Eddie Munson) would be attending as guests. Joseph Quinn was the biggest draw among them with the longest lineup for autographs and photos. It wasn't surprising that Eddie’s Hellfire Club shirt was ever present in the crowds and for sale by many.
Everything came to a close on August 28th, leaving everyone with lots of photos, souvenirs, experiences, and possibly a few new friends. I attended for the first time this year and loved it. Personally, artist's alley and cosplays were my highlights of the event. I'll definitely be going back next year; maybe I'll see you there.