When I am not at work or getting some exercise, you can usually find me reading a comic book, playing the latest video game, or watching anime. Needless to say, I’m a nerd. Luckily for me, the Valley gives me plenty of opportunities to express my geekiness. One way I do this is by attending nerdy conventions. Conventions are where like-minded fans like me gather to dress up in costume, buy cool merch or just talk about their favorite hobbies. These events give me a chance to shamelessly express myself and make new friends. One of the great things about conventions in the Valley is that they are all close to a light rail station or bus stop.
The next big nerdy convention happening in the Valley is Taiyou Con. It takes place January 7 – 9, 2022 at the Mesa Convention Center. The convention center is the perfect place to hold an event in an Arizona winter. The site has several large rooms big enough for an exhibition hall, a room to play your multiplayer video games, and side rooms for smaller gatherings. The convention brings in food trucks and vendor booths to the outdoor parking lot for a street festival feel. I also found that the lush green yard that surrounds the building gave my friends and me an open place to hang out, take pictures and enjoy the day. When heading to the convention I like to take light rail to Center/Main St station. It gives me the option to explore downtown before heading to the main event. If I wanted a shorter walk, I would take bus route 30 or the Mesa Downtown BUZZ.
Taiyou Con is one of the many conventions to attend in 2022. Due to the pandemic, the scheduling of some shows have changed.
Phoenix Fan Fusion is the biggest comic book convention in the Valley. It’s happening May 27- 29 at the Phoenix Convention Center located next to the 3rd St/Washington Station. Bus routes 1, 3 and 7 also go near the Center. The Phoenix Convention Center is also hosting Game On Expo August 5-7. As the name implies, this convention focuses primarily on video games.
Another convention in the downtown Phoenix area is Saboten Con, or “Sabo” to regular attendees. It’s an anime convention that takes place over Labor Day weekend at the Sheraton Phoenix on North 3rd St. This was the first convention I went to after moving to Arizona and it has become an annual event that I can’t miss. I prefer to avoid paying for event parking by taking light rail to the hotel near the Van Buren/Central Ave, Van Buren/1st Ave or 3rd St/Washington station. Another way to get to the convention is by using bus route 7.
I learned some valuable lessons while cosplaying and traveling on Valley Metro. One thing to remember is to have your fare accessible at all times. No one wants to rummage through layers of clothes when security asks see your ticket. A backpack, front pocket or a lanyard are great ways to keep your fare handy. When traveling during the hotter months, hydration is important. Keeping water in a spillproof container helps prevent messes both on the train and on your costume. I also recommend downloading the Valley Metro app. It’s the best way to find the fastest route to the convention before you leave. It also always lets you know where your train or bus is. You can find out more about our app at valleymetro.org/app But most importantly, when choosing a cosplay for the convention pick a character you love. Cosplay is a great conversation starter and it’s a wonderful feeling to tell people about favorite characters. You might even convert a fellow rider into a fan.