It can be tempting to hide behind our computers and leave friendships online these days, but conventions are a great way to connect with people who share your interests. Atlanta has several options this summer, from small-scale to massive operations like Dragon Con. It can be a liberating and celebratory experience to realize just how many people out there love the same books, shows, or theatrical productions that you do. Check out our top picks and you may just make a new bestie this summer.
Sci Fi Summer Con
Marriott Courtyard Perimeter Center
6250 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30328
(770) 393-1000
www.sfscon.tripod.com

Date: June 10 to 12, 2016

If the massive scale of Dragon Con intimidates you, check out Sci Fi Summer Con for a bit of a starter con experience. It doesn’t attract the big name stars like Dragon Con, but it’s a more manageable, less overwhelming experience with plenty of experts on hand. There are actors, authors, and filmmakers from local favorites like “The Walking Dead” as well as other science fiction hits. Expect plenty of discussion panels, costume parties, and other networking events.

Dragon Con
Hyatt Regency Atlanta
265 Peachtree St. N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 577-1234
www.dragoncon.org

Date: September 2 to 5, 2016

Dragon Con is one of the most massive events in Atlanta’s calendar year, taking over five hotels in Midtown over Labor Day weekend as science fiction and fantasy fans join up to have a tremendous party. It kicks off with an enormous parade featuring characters ranging from Ghostbusters to the 300 Spartans—arrive early if you want to snag a spot for prime viewing. Major celebrities from film and television appear at the panels and meet and greet sessions, including none other than William Shatner in 2016! Tickets can be purchased by day or for the entire weekend. Some events are more family-friendly than others, so do your homework before bringing the kids.

Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo
Renaissance Atlanta Waverly
2450 Galleria Pkwy
Atlanta, GA 30339
(404) 325-0000
www.southernfriedgameroomexpo.com

Date: June 10 – 12, 2016

This is the third annual event for this convention, which will feature over 250 different gaming machines, including arcade, pinball, and console varieties. Fans can compete in the pinball tournament, join in some tabletop gaming, and check out the panels and vendor expo. There will also be a screening of the documentary film “Nintendo Quest” for fans. Passes are reasonably priced, at $30 per day for adults ($15 for kids) or $60 for the weekend ($30 for kids).

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Atlanta Comic Convention
Marriott Hotel-Century Center
2000 Century Blvd.
Atlanta, Ga 30345
(706) 837-4976
www.atlantacomicconvention.com

Date: August 14, 2016, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The price can’t be beat with this convention, as admission is only $5! Held four times a year in Atlanta, this fest connects Atlanta’s fans of comic books and other collectibles with dealers from around the South. There is an Artists’ Alley where guests can meet their favorite authors. If you show up in costume, you will receive a free gift!

Atlanta Musical Theater Festival
King Plow Arts Center
887 W. Marietta St. N.W.
Atlanta, GA 30318
www.theamtf.com

Date: August 1 -2, 2016

This is the first year for the Atlanta Musical Theater Festival, and the local theater community is very excited to celebrate its homegrown talent. The objective of the fest is to develop the city’s writers and composers and provide encouragement to new, original work. If the idea of yet another production of “Phantom of the Opera” makes you nauseated, this could be your jam. Maybe the next Pasek and Paul or Stephen Sondheim is in our midst! Expect some awesome performances, workshops, and informational sessions for theater professionals and fans.

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Keely Herrick is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on Examiner.com. “
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