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What Cosplay Contest is Right for You?

Want to enter a cosplay contest but are unsure about what to enter? Here I’ll walk you through the three most common types of cosplay contests and the pros/cons of each.

[NOTE]: Every convention varies slightly in their rules. Check the convention website to see the guidelines for each contest before you enter. These are just generalizations.

  1. Hall Cosplay Contest. The hall cosplay contest is the most subtle of the three kinds of contests. As someone who gets stage fright, this is personally my favorite type of cosplay contest because there is no performance involved. This contest is focused exclusively on craftsmanship, so most contests require a certain percentage of your costume to be hand-made by you. You simply meet with the judges, tell them how you made your cosplay, and wait for the award ceremony. This contest also tends to be the least time-intensive, depending on whether you must wait your turn or arrive at a pre-set appointment time.

  2. Walk-on Cosplay Contest. There are multiple ways a walk-on contest can be run. One is to have the contestants pose on stage after pre-judging their costumes in a manner similar to the hall cosplay contest. This gives the entrants a chance to show off their costumes to the general audience. There may be character-specific music, but there is no real performance involved other than walking the catwalk in a manner appropriate for the character and striking a few poses. Some walk-ons do not have a pre-judging period and contestants are instead judged based on audience response and how well they bring the character to life. Not all walk-on contests require an entrant to make their costumes, it depends on the rules of the individual contest.

  3. Masquerade: The masquerade is the most performance heavy contest of the three. Such performances include but are not limited to dramatic skits, comedy sketches, choreographed dance routines, and musical performances such as singing or playing an instrument. Masquerade entries are given a maximum time limit, but can fill it with whatever they desire (as long as it follows the convention rules). Many masquerades give the entrants an option of whether or not they want to be judged on their costumes along with their performance. This allows cosplayers who did not make their costumes a chance to compete, though it may limit the number of awards they are eligible for. Masquerades also tend to be the most time-intensive of the three contests because of the amount or prep-work that must be done before the performance. If you do decide to do pre-judging for your craftsmanship you will have to make time for that, a rehearsal before the actual masquerade, and be present for the entirety of the masquerade itself in either the green room or a special seating area. This means that a good portion of your convention will be devoted to the masquerade, but it can be worth it for the theatrical thrill.

junko enoshima cosplay

My Junko cosplay was worn for a "Walk-on" type of cosplay contest. I was so preoccupied with balancing on stage in my heels I almost forgot to pose! (photo by Webyugioh)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Want to learn more about cosplay sewing? Check out my e-book: (currently available in Kindle format, though can be read on other devices through the free Kindle app).

cosplay sewing for beginners

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