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Get Geeky at Ten Nerd-tastic Festivals and Cons in 2019

Everything is AWESOME (at Colorado nerd conventions).
Everything is AWESOME (at Colorado nerd conventions).
Danielle Lirette
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Nerds are detail-oriented. Maybe it’s the gaming, with the charts and numbers and character building. Or perhaps it’s a storytelling thing, the understanding of pace and narrative flow. Or collecting — knowing the difference between that little plastic snake around a Yoda action figure being orange or brown.

But even the nerdiest among us sometimes need help juggling the details of exactly how and when we’ll get to indulge in our hobbies. Colorado boasts an embarrassment of riches when it comes to ways to let your geek flag fly; here are our ten best bets for 2019 nerdvana.

Domo, want to play?EXPAND
Domo, want to play?

January 18 to 21
Ramada Plaza Denver North
10 East 120th Avenue, Northglenn

When it’s cold outside, one of everyone’s favorite things to do is to cozy up inside with family or friends and play a game. That’s what Hexacon — one of Denver’s newest gaming conventions — is all about, and this year it’s taking full advantage of the MLK holiday to extend the event to four days of fun. Come out and roll some dice, move some pieces, use some “strategery,” drink something warm, and toast to the board-game gods that have blessed you with a long weekend among your people.

You can tell it's the ’80s by the hair. And maybe the chain-mail nipple.
You can tell it's the ’80s by the hair. And maybe the chain-mail nipple.

Genghis Con 42
February 21 to 24
Hyatt Regency Aurora
13200 East 14th Place, Aurora

Tabletop games! Card games! Role-playing and more! All of it is celebrated at one of Denver’s oldest and most established gaming conventions. Now in its 42nd iteration, Genghis Con attracts top-notch gamers, events and guests alike. Of note this year: the legendary Jeff Dee, whose illustrations brought life to some of the best moments from Dungeons & Dragons and various TSR products back in the 1980s. His portrayal of the unforgettable Morgan Ironwolf alone set the hearts of a million nerds a-fluttering.

Okay, there are people dressed like cows, but it's not all about people dressed like cows.
Okay, there are people dressed like cows, but it's not all about people dressed like cows.

April 13 to 14
McNichols Civic Center
144 West Colfax Avenue

When we covered the Denver Independent Comics & Art Expo back in 2018, we called it the “cool older brother of comic cons.” Gender bias aside, we were right: Every year, DiNK sets itself apart from the usual comic-con fun. There are comics, for sure, but there’s also street art, tattoos, fine art, and fans of all of it, wanting a little bit more than superheroes and spandex. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) You want to see what comics look like when they grow up? This is it.

Giant hoop skirts are a very effective way to clear a path.
Giant hoop skirts are a very effective way to clear a path.
Danielle Lirette

Colorado Anime Fest
April 19 to 21
Denver Marriott Tech Center
4900 South Syracuse

Colorado Anime Fest is moving to a new venue this year, after a few early years of growth. Now it’s bigger and better than ever, including art and animation, gaming, panels and more. Scheduled guests for 2019 include Terri Doty (That Anime Show), Jad Saxton (High School DxD, My Hero Academia), Austin Tindle (Is This a Zombie, Tokyo Ghoul), and Lauren Landa (Attack on Titan, VIZ Media’s Sailor Moon). The best part: The event supports a charity every year. In 2018, the fest gave more than $9,000 to Youth on Record in honor of Ben Bullock. Come out and have a good time while doing some good.

StarFest Denver
April 26 to 28
Denver Marriott Tech Center
4900 South Syracuse Street

StarFest isn’t just a convention; it’s a convention of conventions. It’s a Federation, if you will, of different festivals, each devoted to a different passion: cosplay, comics, science fiction, gaming, robots, models, Star Trek and more. Its prime directive: lots of fun. The big guest this year? No less than the legend himself: William Shatner. (If you don’t recognize the name, this probably isn’t the event for you. Also, watch more TV.)

Let's play Where's Wayne?
Let's play Where's Wayne?
Brad Weismann

Free Comic Book Day
Saturday, May 4
Time Warp Comics (and many other comics shops around the Denver metro area)
3105 28th Street, Boulder

Free Comic Book Day is celebrated at comic-book stores around Denver, Colorado, and America as a whole. But Time Warp Comics in Boulder always goes out of its way to make it not just a giveaway, but a celebration of all things comic-booky and awesome. Yes, there are free comics, and yes, there are sales on other cool swag. But the best part of the day is hanging out with the artists, writers, cosplayers and fans that Time Warp brings in to mark the occasion. And to make it even better this year? It’s also Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you!)

Different name, same bear.
Different name, same bear.
Teague Bohlen

Denver Pop Culture Con
May 31 to June 2
Colorado Convention Center
700 14th Street

Denver Pop Culture Con — formerly the Denver Comic Con, before that name became suddenly proprietary last year — is arguably the most important nerd event in Colorado. What’s not arguable is that it’s the biggest, with numbers cresting well over 100,000 over the course of a long weekend for several years now. In this, the convention's eighth year, the name will most likely be only one of many changes for the better. Guests for the geeky extravaganza are already being announced: Christopher Lloyd and Tom Wilson from Back to the Future; Patrick Warburton (The Tick, Seinfeld); and Ming-Na Wen (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Mulan). Might be best to get in line sometime in April.

Oddly, these folks weren't dressed up for the con.
Oddly, these folks weren't dressed up for the con.
Danielle Lirette

August 9 to 11
Ramada Plaza Denver North
10 East 120th Avenue, Northglenn

In 2019, MALCon is going back to its roots, focusing on fandoms from Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings to Firefly to Doctor Who to Game of Thrones. So whether you’re a Dumbledore devotee, a lover of Legolas, a Mal-maniac, a connoisseur of Captain Jack, or a Jon Snow junkie, you’ll want to cast an accio spell on some tickets and get there and back again.

A downside to Nan Desu Kan: rogue Jedi.EXPAND
A downside to Nan Desu Kan: rogue Jedi.
Danielle Lirette

Nan Desu Kan
August 23 to 25
Sheraton Denver Downtown
1550 Court Place

NDK is a true Denver original; what’s now the region’s premiere anime festival began back in 1995 at the Tivoli Student Union on the Auraria campus. Since then, it’s grown to expand into fourteen surrounding states, seeing attendance of over 9,000 participants in each of its three-day spans downtown. It offers a diverse mix of cultural panels, musical guests, gaming, dances, workshops, art shows, auctions and a whole lot more. The name Nan Desu Kan, by the way, is a Japanese pun roughly translating to “What is it?” To answer that question: a really big deal in the anime world, and getting bigger.

Souvenir bedsheets not included with ticket purchase.EXPAND
Souvenir bedsheets not included with ticket purchase.
Teague Bohlen

October 18 to 20
Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center
7800 East Tufts Avenue

Last year, MileHiCon celebrated its fiftieth anniversary — and it’s going to celebrate its second half-century again in October 2019. An impressive group of the finest modern and classic writers in the sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres gathers together to talk shop — and fans can listen in, trade books, learn a lot about the medium and celebrate the written word. As fast as 2019 will go, there’s something wonderful about slowing down and taking time to celebrate the things you love. Gather your friends and go out and do just that.

Do you have a geek event you want us to know about? Send the details to editorial@westword.com.

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