Otafest 2023: A Guide to the Ultimate Anime Festival Experience
From May 19, 2023 to May 21, 2023 - Calgary, Canada - Calgary Telus Convention Centre
Are you an anime enthusiast looking for an ultimate festival experience? Look no further than Otafest 2023! Held annually in Calgary, Canada, Otafest is a three-day celebration of anime, manga, gaming, and Japanese culture that attracts fans from all around the world. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what to expect at Otafest 2023 and how to make the most of your time there.
What is Otafest?
Otafest is an annual anime festival that has been held in Calgary since 1999. It is a non-profit, volunteer-driven event that aims to promote and celebrate Japanese animation, comics, and culture. Over the years, Otafest has grown from a small gathering of anime fans to a massive event that attracts over 8,000 attendees each year.
What to Expect at Otafest 2023
Otafest 2023 promises to be the biggest and best festival yet, with plenty of exciting activities and events for attendees to enjoy. Here are just a few of the highlights:
Otafest 2023 will feature a lineup of special guests, including voice actors, artists, and industry professionals. Fans will have the opportunity to meet and interact with their favorite guests, attend panels and Q&A sessions, and even get autographs. This is a complete list of special guests you will be expecting in the Otafest which will take place between the 19th and 21st of May.
- Jennie MacManius
- Local Dragon Artists
- Wind Rise
- Anime Night Club 3
- Erica Lindbeck
- Yosakoi Soran Calgary
- Yama no Oto
- Lucien Dodge
- Erica Mendez
- The 404s
- Dave Rodgers
- Digital Planet
- Larissa Crawford
- The Runaway Guys
- Brendan Hunter
- Rock M. Sakura
Attraction at the Otafest 2023
This section highlights some of the events that will be taking place between the 19th ad 21st of May.
Silver Stars Masquerade Ball
Otafest’s Main Events Room (Macleod BCD), Saturday 8:30 PM – Midnight
The keynote event for their 25th anniversary! You’ll have a great time dancing the night away, telling funny stories from the past 25 years of mischief, and putting your most cherished wishes in a time capsule.
Confused about ballroom dancing? Volunteers will be available to teach the fundamentals. Whatever way you choose to interpret “cosplay” or “semi-formal,” that is the dress code!
Masks are welcomed, and the more extravagant and elaborate the better! They award prizes for the most amazing mask, the best dressed, and more. Lacking a mask? All is well! There will be some on hand.
Otafest’s Main Events Room (Macleod BCD), Friday 6:30 PM – 11:00 PM
Join the memorable evening of dancing and meeting new people with their musical guests! You’re guaranteed to get up and dance at their concert and dance party with a lineup of musical guests from a variety of genres.
Additionally, it’s a wonderful chance to connect with people who share your enthusiasm for culture and music. Be a happy person through dancing, making new acquaintances, and enjoying yourself.
Maid & Butler Café
Do you feel lonely and hungry at the same time? Make a reservation at the Maid and Butler Café and let their friendly staff look after you. Their cute butlers and adorable maids are there to make sure you’re taken care of. They’ll move to the dance floor for a captivating performance after the dinner service.
Indulge in delectable food, take part in thrilling activities, and experience distinctive and compelling entertainment all in one location. And in return for a donation to the event’s charity, you can leave with an exclusive 2023 souvenir and a picture of yourself with Otafest’s charming maids and butlers to remember your stay with us.
Please be aware that a separate ticket must be purchased for the café. Buy them here
Outdoor Stage (Stephen Ave), Friday 3:00 PM – 5:30 PM
You’re looking for a memorable outdoor concert? The Idol Festival is returning, so get your noisemakers ready!
This outdoor musical performance, which will feature a range of idol cover groups, is sure to be one of the festival’s highlights. Join the audience as they make Ota-History while seeing these wonderful dancers give it their all! You will undoubtedly have a great time in this energetic and welcoming environment.
The Ota Factor
Preliminaries: Glen 206, Friday 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Finals: Otafest’s Main Events Room (Macleod BCD), Sunday 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Do you enjoy amazing voice performances? Do you enjoy seeing accomplished vocalists compete for honor and recognition? The Ota Factor is where the top vocalists in the area go to display their talent and contend for top prizes! This exciting occasion is the ideal chance to take in some incredible live music and support regional artists who are prepared to give their all on stage.
Your cosplay shots will look fantastic against the backdrop of their venue and the surroundings! There are many interesting photo options for you to take and share with your friends and fellow fans, from the rooftop patio to their balloon displays.
The venue’s surrounding architecture features a variety of settings for you to capture outstanding images. These settings and backgrounds are great for showcasing your cosplay and preserving the impressions of your festival experience.
Exhibitor Hall, Friday 10:00 – 7:00 | Saturday 10:00 – 7:00 | Sunday 10:00 – 5:00
The official figures, manga, plushies, art, games, movies, and posters you’re looking for may be found in Otafest Exhibitor Hall, which collects local shops, businesses, and traveling exhibitors in one accessible area. Painters, illustrators, cosplay designers, and more may be found at Artist Alley, ranging from amateurs to pros! Additionally, certain artists may accept commission requests for unique works.
Additionally, you can find some of their kind, gorgeous sponsors here as well as their visitors during their signature sessions!
Just outside the Exhibitor Hall (in the Pre-Function Space), Friday 9:00 – 7:00 | Saturday 9:00 – 7:00 | Sunday 9:00 – 5:00
Have you ever wondered what you would look like if you were a cat? a ninja?” a cat ninja? Do you dream about receiving a photo of your D&D character to display at the upcoming session or imagine what you and your closest friend would look like as anime characters? These concepts come to life at Sketch Drive, one of Otafest’s oldest customs (and best-kept secrets)!
Pick your preferred design from their outstanding artists’ portfolios, then have your ideal portrait drawn for a good cause. With just one purchase, you can support a local artist while also giving back to the community because half of the price of the sketch will go to the artist directly and the remaining half will go to Otafest’s designated charity, MEOW Foundation.
Just outside the Exhibitor Hall (in the Pre-Function Space), Friday 9:00 – 7:00 | Saturday 9:00 – 7:00 | Sunday 9:00 – 5:00
The Community Corner at Otafest is a buzzing area where conventions, non-profits, and groups may share and display their passion projects with the public. This is a place where you can learn something fresh, exciting, and local because it is a collaborative and inclusive environment. You can create a more resilient, interconnected, and robust society by encouraging and supporting the efforts of Otafest’s neighborhood.
Cosplay HQ, Repair Station, & Contests
Cosplay HQ (Marriott SunAlta Room)
Cosplayers have a right to feel at ease and self-assured while wearing their costumes. They have everything you need in their Cosplay Repair Station (supported by The Costume Shoppe), so you won’t have to worry about your costume breaking down during the festivities.
Visit their cosplay lounge and photographic area to unwind. It’s the ideal place to chill and take some beautiful pictures of your cosplay because it has chairs and a range of settings. Their Cosplay Contest HQ is also located in this space, where you may inquire about a range of competitions open to cosplayers of all skill levels.
Otafest Arcade (TCC Macleod A), Friday 10:00 – 8:00 | Saturday 10:00 – 8:00 | Sunday 10:00 – 6:00
Throughout the festival, a variety of gaming-related activities take place at the Otafest Arcade. Their competitive gaming tournaments and drop-in events, their Open Arcade with casual gaming, the Community Lounge where you can connect with local streamers and their Mobile Corner where you can play the newest mobile and digital card games can all be found in the main gaming area.
Pokémon League (Marriott Kensington Room), Friday 10:00 – 7:00 | Saturday 10:00 – 7:00 | Sunday 10:00 – 6:00
The Otafest Pokémon League has offered a secure environment for Pokémon enthusiasts to compete with other fans and challenge the League for real-world badges and a chance to be proclaimed a Champion for the past ten years. Otafest provide a wide range of Pokémon-related games and activities for players of all ages with a selection of prizes!
Not only that, but the League also has Pokémon-related panels, minigames, events, a wonderful community for you to join, and more!
Related: Pokemon Attractions in Japan
Gunpla Hangar (Marriott Acadia & Mount Royal Rooms), Friday 10:00 – 8:00 | Saturday 10:00 – 8:00 | Sunday 10:00 – 7:00
Do you like enormous robots? Do you enjoy constructing model kits? then proceed to the Marriott’s Acadia Room, where there is a Gunpla Hangar for Otafest. Feel free to enter and construct an experienced kit or a kit you purchased on the show floor, attend panels on Gunpla and Gundam, or simply hang out and converse with other Gunpla builders and Gundam fans.
Manga Library (TCC Ideation 2), Friday 10:00 – 8:00 | Saturday 10:00 – 8:00 | Sunday 10:00 – 7:00
Need a respite from the festival’s nonstop activity? Maybe all you want is a cozy spot where you can read a book. You’re in luck, though. You can unwind in comfort and choose a book from Otafest’s selection of manga and light novels at the Otafest Manga library.
Their collection is made up of books that publishers, Otafest personnel and volunteers, and members of their beautiful community have kindly donated.
Otafest community-hosted panels are excellent opportunities for networking since they put you in touch with skilled hosts, cast you in game shows, or make you giggle uncontrollably while mingling with other participants. They have such a wide range of information that you’ll never be bored!
Moreover, observing how others do things is enlightening! Simply by being present, you may support the development of genuine practical abilities in presentation and communication as well as a hands-on method of learning from the hosts! It might even give you the idea to host a panel the following year!
AMV Contest & Showings
AMV Room (TCC Macleod E1)
Contest: Otafest’s Main Events Room (Macleod BCD), All weekend long!
All are welcome to enjoy the distinctive entertainment provided in their AMV lounge, whether you want to watch music videos all day or just take a breather from the festival’s bustle.
Are you considering yourself an expert in AMVs? Grab a ballot, and take a seat for the AMV competition! Your vote counts as everyone chooses their favorite AMV from a wide range of fun edits created by skilled editors from across the world.
Obviously, anime is necessary for an anime festival. Throughout the weekend, a variety of anime series, including old classics and recent releases, are shown. The technology in Otafest screening rooms gives visitors a good viewing experience. Okay, but in all seriousness, Otafest anime screenings offer wonderful opportunities for fans to interact with one another and learn about new series that they may have missed.
Otafest anime screenings include something for everyone, whether you’re an experienced anime enthusiast or you’re just beginning to discover the world of anime.
Autographs & Guest Panels
Every difficult, heartwarming, or treasured occasion depicted in anime has a real person behind it who made it possible.
The goal of Otafest is to directly connect you with the voices behind these priceless moments. In addition, they invite cosplayers, speakers on diversity and inclusion, business leaders, musicians, live and virtual performers, and designers to entertain and educate as well as to hang out.
Meet them, say hello, share a story with them, and then grab a priceless autograph or photo to take home as a keepsake that you may cherish forever!
Glen 208 / 209, Sunday 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM
This is the ideal time to place a bid on products given by members of the community, Otafest’s sponsors, and many other sources. They’ll even have some official Otafest memorabilia that is only available at auction. The charity auction is where you can find some genuinely one-of-a-kind lots, whether you’re a serious collector or just looking for a fun souvenir.
As this year’s charity partner, MEOW Foundation is one that Otafest is pleased to support. Your auction bids will directly assist in sustaining their vital job. You may bid with confidence knowing that you’re having a beneficial impact on the community because all auction proceeds will be donated directly to MEOW Foundation. Come out and bid on some amazing stuff to benefit this great cause!
CONbini (TCC Telus 110), Friday 11:00 – 6:00 | Saturday 11:00 – 6:00 | Sunday 11:00 until sold out!
Convention meets the Japanese convenience store (, “konbini”)! The doors are open, and the air is filled with the tangy aroma of melonpan! You may get unique Japanese snacks, baked goods, and beverages all in one place.
The Otafest CONbini offers amazing service, friendly greets, and good food that is a hug for your soul. They say that happiness starts with a smile.
Only a few left, so stop by the Otafest CONbini early to replenish!
How It’s Made: Cosplay Edition
Sunday 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
How It’s Made is a gathering that fosters community interaction via the exchange of knowledge and expertise about cosplay and associated arts and crafts. The event is organized similarly to a science fair: presenters show off cosplay accessories or tools that they have created or utilized while instructing attendees about the procedures involved. Building up the cosplay community in Calgary is the main goal!
Tips for Making the Most of Your Time at Otafest 2023
With so much to see and do at Otafest 2023, it’s important to plan ahead to make sure you don’t miss anything. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time at the festival:
Plan Your Schedule
Take a look at the schedule ahead of time and plan out which events and activities you want to attend. Make sure to leave some free time for exploring the festival and checking out vendors in the Artist Alley and Dealers Room.
While some vendors may accept credit cards, it’s always a good idea to bring cash to Otafest. This will make it easier to purchase merchandise and food throughout the festival.
Stay Hydrated and Rested
With so much going on at Otafest 2023, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. Make sure to drink plenty of water and take breaks when needed to avoid getting dehydrated or tired.
Have Fun at the Otafest 2023!
Above all, remember that Otafest is a celebration of anime and Japanese culture, so make sure to have fun and enjoy the experience!
If you’re an anime fan looking for the ultimate festival experience, Otafest 2023 is not to be missed. With a packed schedule of events and activities, special guests, and a welcoming community of fans, Otafest is the perfect place to celebrate your love of anime and Japanese culture. So mark your calendars and get ready for an unforgettable weekend in Calgary!
NB: You can purchase your tickets for the event here. Some attractions’ tickets may already be sold out. However, you can still take part in other Anime Expo like World Cosplay Summit, Anime Expo or Anime Con.
Author: Lolita Rogers
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