January 6, 2014

Ten Largest North American Anime Conventions of 2013

by Patrick Delahanty, Executive Producer, and

Another year has come and gone. As per our tradition, it's time to take a look back and see which conventions were the ten largest anime conventions in North America in 2013.

We've been keeping a tally of the ten largest conventions on and in our AnimeCons TV podcast for ten years now! Back in 2004, we reported that the largest anime con at the time (Otakon 2003) had 17,685 people. This year, that figure would only be tenth on the list!

To understand this list, you need to first understand the different ways that a convention can count its attendance:

  1. The most common method, one used by most non-anime conventions and trade shows, is a "turnstile" attendance count. Under this method, if there are 1,000 people at a three day convention each day, they would report their attendance as 3, if each of those 1,000 people passed through a turnstile once per day. Although some anime conventions report turnstile numbers, they are often offered in addition to one of the following two counting methods. We do not list known turnstile counts on this site as we believe they are misleading and disingenuous.
  2. Another method is to count each person who was issued a badge. This is often referred to as "total attendance" or a "warm body count". This will include attendees, staff, press, vendors, guests, and anyone else who was wearing a convention badge. If they attended multiple days, they just get counted once.
  3. The final method commonly used to report attendance is a paid attendance count. This simply counts the number of people who paid for a badge. Unlike the warm body count, it doesn't include staff, guests, press, or others with a badge...unless they paid for it. This method also only counts people once even if they're attending multiple days.

All the attendance figures we present in this report and on have been provided by convention staffs themselves. They have either been announced on the convention's own web sites, reported to this site, or one of our site's staff have reported back a number announced at the convention's closing ceremonies. Where attendance is marked as "estimated" signifies that the number is likely rounded and not exact.

Our annual list also only consists of conventions with a primary focus on anime. This means that multi-genre conventions are not included. We also do not include conventions such as comic cons or sci-fi cons that have anime programming. To include those in this list would be impossible due to the number of those conventions in existence, the unavailability of attendance numbers for many of them, and the vast differences in counting methods.

Ten Largest North American Anime Conventions of 2013:

  1. Anime Expo - 61,000 estimated total attendance
  2. Otakon - 34,892 paid attendees
  3. Anime Central - 28,692 total attendance
  4. Anime North - 23,952 paid attendees
  5. FanimeCon - 25,542 total attendance (23,430 paid)
  6. A-Kon - 22,366 total attendance
  7. Anime Boston - 21825 total attendance (21,200 paid)
  8. Sakura-Con - 21,000 estimated paid attendees
  9. Anime Weekend Atlanta - 18,363 total attendance
  10. Youmacon - 14,496 total attendance

Beyond these ten, we start to get into a large number of conventions with attendance counts very close to one another. Narrowly missing the list are Otakuthon (13,357 total attendance), MomoCon (12,200 total attendance), San Japan (11,077 total attendance), Katsucon (10,686 total attendance), and AnimeNEXT (10,283 paid attendance) with each of these conventions reporting over 10,000 attendees. In the event other conventions come forward with attendance counts not previously reported, we will include them in an update at the bottom of this article.

As always, we remind you that these are merely the largest conventions and are not necessarily the best. There are many, many small conventions out there that are a lot of fun and we encourage you to find the conventions near you and check them out.

If you want to compare the growth of conventions over the last ten years, here are some handy links to our annual reports (either written or as reported in our podcast):
2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003

UPDATE: Anime Matsuri has been removed from the list due to significant discrepancies between the numbers they reported (14,989 total attendance) and the number of tickets sold reported by the venue.

Patrick Delahanty is the creator of and executive producer of AnimeCons TV. He is the host of The Chibi Project, Anime Unscripted, and is one of the founders of both Anime Boston and Providence Anime Conference. Patrick has attended over 120 conventions, cosplaying at most of them.