January 5, 2015

Ten Largest North American Anime Conventions of 2014

by Patrick Delahanty, Executive Producer, and

It's January 2015 and that means that it's time for us to take our annual look back and see which conventions were the ten largest anime conventions in North America during 2014.

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. None of these numbers are guesses by staff. Where attendance is marked as "approximately" signifies that the number reported by the convention is likely rounded and not an exact count.

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. Anime conventions that share admission with non-anime conventions (such as comic or steampunk conventions) are also not included on this list.

Largest North American Anime Conventions of 2014:

  1. Anime Expo - approximately 86,000 warm bodies
  2. Otakon - 33,929 paid attendees
  3. Anime Central - 29,675 warm bodies
  4. Anime North - 28,509 paid attendees
  5. A-Kon - 26,377 warm bodies
  6. Anime Boston - 25,493 warm bodies with 24,798 paid attendees
  7. Sakura-Con - approximately 22,000 paid attendees
  8. Anime Weekend Atlanta - 20,311 paid attendees
  9. Otakuthon - 17,661 warm bodies
  10. Youmacon - approximately 16,300 paid attendees

Beyond these ten, we start to get into a large number of conventions with attendance counts very close to one another and a number of conventions that would likely fall into this range but have not reported numbers. However, we do know that some conventions that narrowly missed the list are San Japan (14,686 warm bodies), and MomoCon (14,600 warm bodies).

Notably missing from the list this year is Katsucon. The convention was held in February 2014, but had not reported numbers on their web site or social media. They did not respond to requests for attendance numbers, so they could not be included in this list.
UPDATE: Since this article was originally published, Katsucon has reported an attendance of 12,970.

Also no longer on the list for the first time since we've been tracking the ten largest anime cons is FanimeCon. The San Jose, California convention is not eligible to be on the list because it shared registrations with a steampunk event called Clockwork Alchemy. Since there is no way to distinguish the people attending the anime event from the people attending the steampunk event, it would not be fair to include it in the above list. A similar situation arose in 2010 when New York Anime Festival merged with New York Comic Con and we could therefore no longer include New York Anime Festival on the list.

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 try them out.

If you want to compare the growth of conventions over the last ten years, here are some links to our annual reports (either written or as reported in our podcast): 2013, 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 (19,412 warm bodies) 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 130 conventions, cosplaying at most of them.