The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo is arriving in the Windy City on December 10-12 at the McCormick Place. If this is your first time attending the show, here are our inside tips on making your trip to C2E2 a success.
As a regular convention goer, I can say with complete honesty that C2E2 is probably one of the best fan events on the planet, and it's not just because of the great guests they bring every year, but the venue is built perfectly to host comic conventions. From the spacious show floor to the onsite hotels, restaurants, bars, and multiple panel rooms, it is the best convention center for bringing fans together. If this is your first time attending the show, congratulations, and prepare yourself for a super fun weekend!
To help prepare you for your C2E2 experience, here are some tips for attending the show from someone who has attended the last 13 C2E2 events.
TIP #1: REVIEW THE COVID PROTOCOLS
This is an unprecedented year for fans and protocols are in place to keep everyone safe and healthy. Make sure you read and understand the health and safety rules here before attending the show.
TIP #2: MAKE A LIST / MAKE A PLAN
With so much to see and do at C2E2, the days fly so fast, and you don't want to miss out on any of the great experiences going on on the show floor or in one of the panel rooms. Check the C2E2 website often and look for the daily schedule of panels and events (usually posted about a week before the show) and make a physical schedule of things you want to see. Chances are you won't be able to see everything, so it's a good idea to cherry-pick the stuff that is most important to you. Remember to check your list often. You don't want to be deep in Artist's Alley and suddenly realize the panel you want to see is starting in two minutes.
TIP #3: SHOW UP 30 MINUTES LATE
I know this seems like bad advice, but trust me, if you're not trying to be that first person to an artist's table, or running to get that last cosplay prop on sale, show up after the doors have been open for a while. If you don't, you'll find yourself standing in a crowded queue line which isn't always the most fun way to start your day. If you show up 30 minutes after the doors are open, you can just waltz right in with no lines at all.
TIP #4: CONVENTION SUPPLIES
Don't forget your con supplies!!! Here are just some of the supplies we recommend bringing to the show:
Markers (Multiple colors) for if you run into a celebrity in the bathroom or on the show floor and want to politely ask for an autograph.
Comics, for signing in Artist Alley and around the show floor. (But don't be that guy who wheels his entire collection in to get signed while everyone waits behind him at the Skottie Young table. Everyone hates that guy).
Refillable Water Bottle
Phone charger and portable battery charger
TIP #5: BRING SNACKS & WATER
Yes, they allow you to bring in snacks and a sealed bottle onto the show floor. I mean, we all love a good convention hot dog from time to time, but when you're on the go and moving around the space, it's nice to be able to pull out a granola bar for a quick refresher.
TIP #6: BRING A FRIEND
C2E2 is fun when you're solo, but it's immensely more fun with your closest friends. There's so much to do and to see and people all have different interests, it's highly likely that your friend might show you something or turn you onto something you never saw before. Plus, it's great to have someone there with you to take your photos with cosplayers.
TIP #7: BRING A BATTERY PACK
We mentioned this earlier in the "supplies" list, but it bears repeating. With all the photos and texting you'll be doing at the show, your battery will almost assuredly die on you and, while you can find wall outlets throughout the convention space, who wants to sit there while your phone charges? Bring a portable battery pack and let your phone charge in your backpack on the go. ALSO: A big battery drain is your phone searching for a signal. The Wi-Fi and cell service in the hall isn't the best and your phone will likely drain looking for a good signal.
TIP #8: BRING CASH
Many exhibitors and vendors will take credit cards, but "Cash is King". You very well might come across a piece you really want to buy but the vendor or artist only accepts cash. The last thing you want to do is find an ATM, stand in line, and pay insane fees when you could have just had cash on hand.
TIP #9: DRESS COMFORTABLY & USE COAT CHECK
Seems like a no-brainer, but this is Chicago in December and you'll find it is warm inside and cold outside, so make sure you plan your attire wisely. You don't want to dress too warm and be sweating your ass off all day, nor do you want to step outside in a t-shirt and freeze yourself to the bone.
AUTHOR'S ADVICE: Wear jeans and a t-shirt, with a hoodie or sweater tied around your waist AND utilize the coat check for your winter coat.
TIP #10: TAKE A SHUTTLE
Parking can be expensive. Ubers can be expensive. Save that money and travel in style on one of the free shuttle buses that run from downtown to McCormick Place. If you're not staying in one of the convention hotels and plan to commute to the show each day, C2E2 provides free shuttle service from downtown to McCormick Place. It costs you nothing and it's a very fun way to meet other people and talk about the exciting day you have planned at C2E2. Typically, the shuttle map and schedules can be found on the C2E2 website about a week before the show.
NOTE: The shuttles also run you back downtown at the end of the day and stop at all downtown's biggest hotels, so be sure to hop on one to get back to your hotel at night.
TIP #11: GO SEE A PANEL (ANY PANEL)
One of the best parts about C2E2, and most any convention, are the live Q&A panels happening all weekend long. Not only is it a great way to rest your weary legs after an afternoon of walking the convention floor, but it's also a great way to see celebrities, meet comic creators, or hear from your favorite industry pros. The panels are free and take place one floor up from the show floor, so it's easy to get to one, and McCormick Place has dozens of panel halls to choose from.
NOTE: The panel schedule is usually posted on the C2E2 website about a week before the show.
TIP #12: STAY AFTER THE SHOW FLOOR CLOSES
Some of the most fun at C2E2 happens after the show floor closes. There are usually after-hours panels that are more adult-oriented in the upstairs panel rooms and typically there are planned drink and draw events that fans can attend. ALSO: The hotel bars and restaurants are always jam-packed with cosplayers and performers enjoying each other's company and celebrating the day's events. You'll never know who you'll meet at an after-hours event.
TIP #13: BE KIND TO THOSE AROUND YOU
We get it... you're tired, you've been on your feet all day and tensions are running a bit high. But remember, this is a fun experience. Nobody likes waiting in line or standing in the cold, but try and remind yourself, the person behind you or next to you is feeling the same way. This is a fun fan event and sometimes that takes a little reminding. So, be nice to your fellow congoers. Don't drink too many beers and be "that guy." If you're feeling tense, go see a panel, sit down and recharge. When you're ready, head to the con floor, refreshed.
So there you have it. These are just some of the useful tips you'll need to enjoy C2E2 to its fullest. Did we forget something? Let us know in the comment section and we'll be sure to add it to the list.