A lot of nerdish activity is solitary in nature: painting intricate miniatures; farming for a treasured weapon drop; replicating animated costuming with real cloth and the actual effects of gravity; checking the grade on a comic book down to the decimal. So it makes sense that those of the nerdish persuasion would need to get together once in a while, for the sake of both community and collaborative joy. And, you know, human contact. Thus: the massive success of the nerd convention.
As always, this is a beautifully incomplete list. Colorado is something of a nerdvana when it comes to the nerdalicious. So gather your Crown Royal bags of dice, your precision cosplay, your sci-fi, fantasy, anime and four-color fun, and all the friends that share your passions — and enjoy these ten best bets for geeking out in 2020.
Genghis Con 43
February 13 to 16
Hyatt Regency Aurora
13200 East 14th Place, Aurora
If you love games — from video games to board games to tabletop action and card games — Genghis Con has a table (or ten) to satisfy your need to compete. Denver’s oldest and most established gaming convention is now in its 43rd year, attracting top-notch gamers, events and guests alike. Among several special guests this year is Knights of the Dinner Table’s Jolly Blackburn, whose gaming-love comic book spun out into an actual gaming company providing real games like Hackmaster and Aces & Eights. Gaming royalty, right there.
Colorado Anime Fest
March 20 to 22
Denver Marriott Tech Center
4900 South Syracuse
Colorado Anime Fest (commonly referred to by fans as COAF) celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2020, quickly becoming one of Colorado’s main convention events. There will be art and animation, gaming, voice celebrities, panels, and more cosplay than you can take in on a single day. The best part of COAF is that it's run by an entirely volunteer staff so that a significant portion of the proceeds from the convention can go to local charities. In 2019, $8,000 was raised for People House. Give a little back while you’re indulging in your hobby!
Colorado Comic Con
March 27 to 29
Colorado Springs Event Center
3960 Palmer Park Boulevard, Colorado Springs
A smaller con than the big dogs on the comic convention block, Colorado Comic Con is proving this year that it has some fight in it. One of the event's special guests is Chris Claremont of X-Men fame (among a long list of other classic comic book-writing gigs). If you prefer smaller crowds and more emphasis on comic books, you owe it to yourself to head down to the Springs in late March.
April 24 to 26
Great Wolf Lodge
9494 Federal Drive, Colorado Springs
Let’s be clear: Kobolds are not native to Colorado. They’re little Germanic goblin-like creatures that inhabit old stories and low-level Dungeons and Dragons modules. But the convention named for them is one of Colorado’s fastest-growing tabletop-gaming cons. Pull up a chair and bring your dice, decks and backpacks full of Mountain Dew and Doritos. It’s time for gaming, and those kobolds aren’t going to vanquish themselves. (And despite the old-school nature of some of these great games, virtual Tabletop Gaming is available for all adventurers who can’t make it in person.
May 1 to 3
Denver Marriott Tech Center
4900 South Syracuse Street
As we point out every year, StarFest isn’t just a singular convention: It’s a bunch of conventions. A convention of conventions, if you will. And as such, it specifically serves a number of fan bases simultaneously: cosplay, comics, science fiction, gaming, robots, models, Star Trek and more. Its prime directive is tons of fun (and also not to meddle in the natural evolution of alien cultures). Last year welcomed William Shatner; this year’s special guests include Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner. (Which means that the cast of Deep Space Nine should be coming next year...RIP, Rene Auberjonois.)
Free Comic Book Day
Saturday, May 2
Time Warp Comics (and many other comic shops around the Denver metro area)
3105 28th Street, Boulder
Free Comic Book Day isn’t just taking place at Time Warp Comics up in Boulder, of course. It’s a celebration of all things zap-pow-bang on the first Saturday of each May at any friendly neighborhood comic-book shop. Wayne Winsett at Time Warp always does the day up right — in fact, we interviewed him last year about his 35th anniversary party starting on Free Comic Book Day in 2019. Unlike the rest of the events on this list, it’s only one day, but boy, oh, boy…what a day.
Denver Pop Culture Con
July 3 to 5
Colorado Convention Center
700 14th Street
Denver Pop Culture Con dependably draws more than 100,000 fans over the course of its three-day nerd bacchanal of cosplay, anime, celebrities of screens both big and small, gaming, art, literature, and yes, of course, comics. It’s the biggest nerd event in Colorado, now in its ninth year, still serving the geek community to its utmost. Guests for the 2020 convention, taking place over the Independence Day weekend, are understandably patriotic: So far, there’s not one, but two Supermen coming (the Arrowverse’s Tyler Hoechlin and Smallville’s Tom Welling). How better to spend the Fourth of July than celebrating Truth, Justice and the American Way?
Nan Desu Kan
September 4 to 6
Gaylord Rockies Resort
6700 North Gaylord Rockies Boulevard, Aurora
Nan Desu Kan, fondly referred to as NDK among its many fans, began back in 1995 at the Tivoli Student Union on the Auraria campus. Since then, it’s grown exponentially, including well over a dozen states and boasting a local attendance of over 10,000 participants. It offers a diverse mix of cultural panels, musical guests, gaming, dances, workshops, art shows and auctions, plus a whole lot more. This year the festivities move from downtown Denver out to Aurora near Denver International Airport, so the biggest anime convention in the Rocky Mountain region can keep getting bigger.
October 23 to 25
Marriott Denver Tech Center
4900 South Syracuse Street
MileHiCon is one of Colorado’s most esteemed conventions, now in its second half-century of serving the sci-fi, fantasy and horror literary fan communities. Along with the sincere love of books is a celebration of gaming, geek stuff and general nerdish merriment. This year’s special guests (so far) include artist Alan Pollack and writers Mur Lafferty, Cory Doctorow and Rebecca Roanhorse.
October 23 to 25
Crowne Plaza DIA
15500 East 40th Avenue
Brand-new to the Colorado convention season is this celebration of all things Harry Potter. LeakyCon Denver is one of only two Potter-specific cons nationally (the other takes place in Orlando), so the uncountable fans of Harry, Ron, Hermione and the gang will no doubt fill out the Crown Plaza DIA to have a butterbeer, maybe some treacle tarts, and live among the non-Muggle population for a weekend. Grab a portkey (and maybe a ticket) and get there early so you won't have to use the time-turner.
Did we leave out your favorite Colorado convention? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.