Late fall. Throngs of people gather together to celebrate shared passions, admire colourful costumes and participate in special events. It’s a scene you’d expect from a summer music or art festival and it’s not far off – Otafest Aurora is one of the most vibrant events to grace Calgary’s cooler months. This is the autumn sister of Calgary’s 14-year strong Otafest, an annual conference for anime enthusiasts dedicated to promoting Japanese art, culture and media in the Canadian community. The festival provides an opportunity for both fans and curious newcomers to see anime on the big screen, from the newest hit shows to the greatest classics.
The Otafest Aurora Marketplace gathers dozens of vendors together from throughout Western Canada, bringing a huge selection of anime and pop culture goods. Artist’s Alley showcases a spectacular selection of artwork and other creative merchandise for sale from local artists. The festival also provides a creative venue for fans to showcase costumes, music videos and art. It features educational panels on topics ranging from armour-building, Japanese cooking demonstrations, and Iron Cosplay (like Iron Chef) and hilarious anime themed comedy Improv. Rounding out the programming are speed dating sessions, discussions on steampunk, Quidditch exhibitions, tabletop and video gaming.
Unique to Otafest Aurora is the formal Gala, an opportunity to dress to the nines. An evening dancing with fellow fans follows a fully catered dinner. Purchasing a ticket to the Gala also includes admission to the festival.
Otafest Aurora runs November 30 from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. at the University of Calgary’s downtown campus. For tickets and a full list of programming, visit otafest.com.
By Amy Pratt
Photos: Aka Maple