Cosplay Contest 2019

Registration Is Now Open!

Are you a Cosplay artist?

Do you have a Cosplay performance you’ve been working on??

Do you have a themed group of friends that absolutely love dressing up???

Then sign up to be among the amazing competitors in this year’s 

DAKUcon Cosplay Contest!

Don’t want to compete? No Problem! 

Join the audience to cheer on the incredible Cosplayers competing for Best Craftsmanship Individual & Group, Best Re-Creation, Best Original Design, Best Performance Individual & Group, Most Humorous Judges’ Choice, and 

Best in Show Judges’ Choice

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Time: Doors open @ 3:30 PM; Contest Begins @ 4:00 PM

Location: Main Events

Special Guest Judges

We love our Cosplayers! And we’re looking forward to seeing your latest and greatest creations. Costumes of all genres are welcome – from designs re-created from movies, TV, comic books, anime, history, classic art, computer games, and more – to completely original designs. The only limit is your imagination! 

Audience tickets are not used for this event since our venue has plenty of seating. Only a valid Saturday DakuCon attendee badge is needed. Doors will open for audience seating at 3:30 PM, and the event will run approximately 2 hours. And of course, while costumes are not required for audience members, dressing as someone other than yourself always adds to the fun!

Reserved seating is available for special guests, VIPs who have purchased preferred seats (see Registration), anyone requiring special needs accommodation and credentialed press members wishing front section Main Stage seating. Those requiring special needs accommodation seating and members of the Press should contact the Cosplay Costume Coordinator in advance.

Cosplay Costume Rules:

  • There are a limited number of contestant slots available. The deadline for advance entry is September 30, 2019.  Interested Cosplayers should submit their entry form early (while we will allow at the door and on-site registration, we cannot guarantee a spot for you). Photos of the costume(s) you are entering are required with your completed entry form for confirmation of eligibility. There will be a Waiting List to fill openings in the event of cancellations. If any slots are still available, Cosplayers can sign up Friday, November 15th by 8 p.m. at the convention at the Registration Desk but will have to meet all requirements (including wearing the costume or providing a photo as proof of entry). 
  • Each entry (individual or group) will have a minimum of thirty seconds, up to a maximum of two minutes thirty seconds, to present their work on stage. We want the judges & the audience to see your hard work! Anything beyond 2 minutes 30 seconds must have the advance approval of the Cosplay Costume Coordinator, or we reserve the right to interrupt & end the performance, without disqualification. Failure to leave the stage when asked WILL be grounds for disqualification.
  • Group entries must be a cohesive group and not just random characters smashed on stage together (if you are submitting a group with characters that would seem otherwise incohesive, we may ask for an explanation or breakdown of the performance to determine if we can count it as a valid entry). One prize will be given to the group as a whole, not individual prizes.
  • Cosplayers may enter as many costumes as they like, but the costumes must be worn by different people. Cosplayers may not present one costume then change into another as a separate entry.
  • All Cosplay Costume Contest participants must be registered attendees of the convention. Saturday badges are the first to sell out, so purchasing a badge early is wise! 
  • The following are prohibited on stage for safety reasons:
    • Anything that may pose a danger. All contestants are expected to act responsibly. Entries that could potentially damage the hotel facilities, other participants or the wearer will not be allowed, at the discretion of the Cosplay Costume Coordinator. 
    • No pyrotechnics of any kind (including but not limited to: fire, flash powder, explosives, smoke bombs or fireworks).  
    • No messy substances which might damage or soil the performance area, the audience or other cosplayers; no aerosol sprays; no glitter/confetti; no fluids. 
    • No unsheathing of bladed weapons without prior clearance from the DAKUcon staff (see DAKUcon Costume Props policy for explicit details). 
    • No explicit nudity. Implied nudity is fine, as is “foul” language. We are an 18+ event. But please, no Burlesque!
    • No live animals.
    • No projectiles of any kind or throwing of items into the audience.
    • No illegal weapons of any kind (see Firearm and Weapons Related Statutes).
    • No glomping or running on stage. Audience members are not permitted to run onto the stage area for any reason.
    • No strobe lights or laser lights (all light sources must be self contained and battery powered).
    • Nothing in your performance may advertise an actual product, service, business or website. 
    • And please, no touching of the MC or any of the Judges. Lovely as they are, they are not part of your act! If you would like assistance from the MC, Judges, or any Staff, please have it cleared prior to your performance.
  • Contestants may choose whether or not to come on stage in the dark or with light (please indicate this on the registration form). Once your Cosplay performance begins, lights will remain on and light settings will not change.
  • We strongly recommend all entries in the Craftsmanship and Performance categories supply music that fits the mood of their costume. Keep in mind the quality of the audio may make or break the cosplay performance. 
    • Microphones will not be given to contestants. Any words spoken from stage may not be heard by the audience. For the performance, contestants will be lip-syncing any speech to the recording. The Master of Ceremonies will only read the introduction that is provided. MP3 file is the ONLY acceptable audio source. Label the MP3 file with your name and costume name (ie. John Doe as Batman). Please email the audio as an MP3 file no later than September 30, 2019 to the Cosplay Costume Coordinator. It must be checked for quality and length of time (minimum of thirty seconds, up to a maximum of two minutes thirty seconds). Bring backups of the audio files on a USB drive to DAKUcon, just in case. The USB drive will be returned after the Cosplay Contest. All audio must be turned into the Programming staff before 10 AM on Saturday, November 16th (see audio guidelines).
  • All Cosplay Contest participants are required to attend a run-through to participate. Expect this to take up to an hour of Saturday morning of the con. This is in addition to the time for the actual Cosplay Costume Contest. This timeframe will be indicated on the DakuCon Schedule
  • All Cosplay Contestants will sign a release for the use of any video and photo images. All Cosplay Contestants will be photographed and/or recorded prior to competing in the contest. Those images will become the property of DakuCon and may be used for promotional purposes.
  • All Cosplay Contestants will sign a liability release. If contestants decide to carry a DAKUcon approved weapon for their Cosplay, by attending DAKUcon contestants accept any legal and financial responsibility for damage they or their weapon may cause to persons or property. Please note that this liability waiver is included when you receive your badge. A valid badge is proof of acceptance of this waiver, and failure to comply will result in disqualification from the competition and may be grounds for immediate from the convention.
  • All Cosplay Costume entries MUST conform to Daku Con Rules and Policies. The Cosplay Costume Coordinator may reject any entry on the basis of inappropriate or unsafe behavior or content, or if the entry does not meet the criteria listed within these rules. Failure to follow any DAKUcon Cosplay Contest rules may result in immediate removal from the event and may prohibit you from participating in future events. Hateful symbols and emblems of genocide are strictly prohibited.
We recommend that all contestants keep all competition costumes out of sight and do not wear them at the convention prior to the Cosplay Contest. We want contestants to be fresh and looking great. This will also prevent wear and tear that can happen to a costume worn all day in a crowded event. Many of our audience wait in line to see something special Saturday evening.  We want contestants to “surprise” and WOW the audience!

Cosplay Definitions, Categories & Divisions

The costumed entries deemed most outstanding by the panel of judges will receive DakuCon awards, given in the categories of: Best Craftsmanship Individual & Group, Best Re-Creation, Best Original Design, Best Performance Individual & Group, Most Humorous Judges’ Choice, and Best in Show Judges’ Choice. Prizes for 1st – 3rd place will also be given for Apprentice, Master and Expert divisions in the Craftsmanship category. 

AND! Winners in Best of Show Judges’ Choice, Best Re-Creation, Best Original Design, Best Craftsmanship, Most Humorous, or Best Performance categories also receive a complimentary 3-day attendee badge for DakuCon 2020! If the category winner is a group entry, up to four badges will be bestowed to that group.

While this contest is intended for non-professional costumers, some minor professional experience is acceptable, and the judges will weigh that factor when selecting winners. Please note it on the entry form. 

Category definitions: 

  • Best in Show: This s  a Judges Choice award and is given to the Cosplay Contestant (individual or group) with the highest overall score.
  • Craftsmanship: Entries are judged on the overall appearance of their cosplay and the quality of the costume construction. If a costume is made almost entirely by someone else, they must be present to win in Craftsmanship and the prize will go to them. Costumes store-bought or obtained from a similar professional source are not eligible to compete in this category.
    • Apprentice: If this is your first Cosplay experience or you have never won a Cosplay award, this is your division.
    • Expert: If you have won a Cosplay award, you my friend are experienced.
    • Master: If you have won two or more Cosplay awards, you are a Master.
  • Exhibition: This is a non-competitive category for Cosplayers to show-off their creations. (see DAKUcon Cosplay Costume Contest category – Exhibition).
  • Most Humorous: This is a Judges’ award for Cosplayers in the Performance category. Humorous applies broadly to anything that is absurd, clever, comical, droll, farcical, funny, hilarious, humorous, laughable, ludicrous, ridiculous, sidesplitting, uproarious and/or witty. Humor is reason gone mad and the secret is surprise.
  • Original Design: A design original to the maker/wearer. It may be inspired from some published work of fantasy, science fiction, mythology, or other source, but is not a copy of someone else’s design work. 
    • Some contestants provide elaborate booklets showing the details and aspects of the making of their costumes, providing samples of material, and so on. This is certainly not a requirement, but can make for a fun keepsake. Some contestants have used their booklets to help get professional costuming jobs afterward. 
  • Performance: Entries are judged on their acting, memorizations, representation, ingenuity, and prop use.
  • Re-Creation: A costume copied from an existing design, such as from a movie, comic books, anime, famous artwork, and so on. 
    • If a costume is a re-creation, we suggest contestants provide the judges with a color reference image of what it is based on, since not all the judges may be familiar with the costume being presented. A photo or artwork will do. 

Which DAKUcon Cosplay Costume Contest category fits best?

  • Craftsmanship – This category is for costumes of original design or re-creations that will be judged on both the overall appearance of their cosplay and the quality of the construction of the costume. Entries must show significant modification to pre-existing materials. 
    • It is open to individuals and cohesive groups.
    • Pre-judging in the Craftsmanship category will begin on Friday, November 15th at 6 p.m. Each entry will be assigned an interview time. Please be prompt as there will be other contestants waiting for their opportunity to present their work. If contestants are unable to make their time slot, please notify the Cosplay Costume Coordinator as soon as possible so that alternative arrangements can be made, if possible.
    • No costumes that are purchased or otherwise obtained from professional sources are permitted to compete in this category.
    • At least 75% of what contestants bring onto the stage must have been created or altered in a significant manner. This is a contest of craftsmanship and creativity, not shopping ability. Costumes may include some purchased items. If contestants are unsure if their costume exceeds the 25% unaltered purchased items limit, check with the Cosplay Costume Coordinator for approval. 
    • The Cosplay Costume Coordinator and Judges have the exclusive ability to determine a costumes eligibility in the workmanship contest. All judges decisions are final.
    • Groups or individuals that are doing a performances may request to be judged on Craftsmanship, but will not be judged in or eligible for prizes in the Performance category. No entry may go on stage a second time to be judged separately in an additional category.
    • Outfits do not need to be worn by the creator so long as the costume creator is present at the convention and judging. 
    • Contestants are encouraged to bring reference pictures and in-progress photographs to show the judges during the pre-judging. Please do not ask to email or print out reference materials the day of the judging.
    • There are 3 divisions within the Craftsmanship Category that will receive awards. Apprentice, Expert and Master. The Cosplay Costume Coordinator reserves the right to change Contestant’s division to a higher division to create a fair competition. Consider this an honor!
      • Apprentice –  If this is the contestant’s first Cosplay experience or they have never won a Cosplay award, enter in this division. Prizes will be awarded for 1st – 3rd place.
        • Entries in the Apprentice category may have help from a relative/friend, but costumes should have been made mostly by the contestant. The helper does not need to be present, but the contestant must be honest with judges about the amount of help anyone provided in the construction of their costume.
      • Expert – If a Contestant has ever won a Cosplay award, they are experienced. Contestants are expected to make their entire costume. Prizes will be awarded for 1st – 3rd place.
      • Master – If contestants have won two or more Cosplay awards. Contestants are expected to make their entire costumes. Prizes will be awarded for 1st – 3rd place.
  • Performance – This category is for Cosplays that are being judged on their acting, memorizations, representation, ingenuity, and prop use. In short, how well they can act like a certain character, how well they perform a skit, and how well they present themselves in their cosplay, etc. 
    • Purchased costumes may compete in this category but will not be judged for Craftsmanship or eligible for prizes in that category. 
  • Exhibition – This category is for winning costumes entered in previous DakuCon contests; costumes that have won “Best in Show” or “Best in Master Class” at other conventions (the only exception will be made for costumes that have been substantially modified by at least 50% and will require support documentation in the form of photographs – these should be entered in the appropriate Craftsmanship division); for those who do not wish to compete but wish to show off their creations; for those with purchased/commissioned cosplays that do not desire to perform; purchased costumes or rented costumes; and for DAKUcon convention staff members. Contestants in this division are ineligible for any awards except Honorable Mentions. Cosplayers will have approximately one minute to show off their creations.

The DAKUcon Cosplay Contest Coordinator reserves the right to eliminate any entry from the competition on the basis of taste, danger to the audience, building or contestants, violation of any of the above rules, or any other reason deemed sufficient.

Please remember we do not supply participants with any of the following: make-up, make-up applicators and/or removers, paint, etc. 

Please come to the convention with everything needed to complete and/or assemble your Cosplay. Entries must be finished before they get to the Cosplay Costume room. No sewing, gluing, spray painting, welding, or other construction work is allowed backstage. However, final assembly of large pieces and/or props and unexpected repairs will be allowed, within reason.

After Contestants arrive at the convention, please check in at the Registration Desk. Your entry paperwork will be verified and contestants will be given any updated information and any missing forms. These must be completed and returned to the Desk no later than 10:00 a.m. Saturday, November 16th. If we have not received a response from the contestants by 10 a.m. Saturday we’ll assume they’ve cancelled by choice and open spots will be filled from the Wait-List, so please let us know you’ve arrived! 

When arriving for the show that afternoon, contestants may check-in at the Green Room with the staff as early as 2:00 pm, but NO LATER than 3:00, and must be stage ready by 3:30 p.m. to allow for photos to be taken. If contestants do not check-in by 3:00, we will assume they’ve dropped out by choice and remove them from the show. 

Contestants agree to report to the Green Room at the show venue no later than the specified time (3:00 P.M.), to allow for any video recording and photography, and to allow the use of their images on our website. 

No flash photography is allowed of the event, although non-flash photography and video recording is welcome. There will be a flash-allowed posing area with backdrop in a nearby room where the contestants will go after their stage performance, but photographer spaces are limited. Those wishing access to the DakuCon Photo Area should reserve a spot in advance by writing to the Programing Staff.

Audio Guidelines

Sound for your entry is not required but is highly recommended. Contestants should plan to record any dialog for their entry if they have multiple people, as there is no microphone available. There will not be audio editing software/machine on site. Please have all audio prepared ahead of time. For pre-recorded sound, we highly recommend contestants work very hard on getting quality audio. Record multiple times, if necessary. Every individual should be the same level of volume. Bad audio can be made to sound great by importing it into Audacity and running the compression effect, this is just a tip. Consider finding a friend with experience in audio. DAKUcon Staff cannot answer questions about how to make your audio sound better.

We will only accept in person submissions in MP3 format on a flash drive. Not accepted: cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, etc. Bring backups of any audio files. The pre-recorded music/dialogue submitted to the DAKUcon staff must be 2 minutes and 30 seconds or less. There are no exceptions to the 2 Minute rule, unless contestants receive permission prior to the convention. Any entry over the 2:30 mark will be stopped at that point and contestants will be asked to leave the stage.

Stage Area Information:

The performing area of the stage is approximately 16 feet wide by 8 feet deep, and elevated from the floor. Going up to stage level will require climbing steps, so keep that in mind when designing footwear. 

The entry is stage-left (when contestants are facing the audience, their left is stage-left), The exit on stage-right. Groups may enter and exit from both sides. 

The backdrop is a dark neutral. 

The lighting will be dimmed between performances but will not go completely black for safety reasons. Curtains at stage left and right conceal the stair entry areas. 

The MC will be at the far end of the stage, stage-right. The Judges are seated at the center-front section of the audience. 

Contestants may dress elsewhere (such as their hotel room) and then briefly travel through the hotel to report on time to the Green Room in costume.There is no private changing area in the Green Room.

Help assure your performance goes exactly as you want it to by letting our stage crew know what to expect. Please inform us about any unusual aspects of your costume, props, or set pieces (for example “My costume includes 8 foot tentacles and has lighting”). If contestants need a personal helper, they may bring one per Cosplay entry, but helpers may not go on stage. Special arrangements for the unloading of large costumes and items can be made, please consult with the Cosplay Costume Coordinator prior to the Cosplay Costume event.

A Final Note:

The purpose of the event is to have fun, to celebrate the creative ability within us all, so please don’t be so concerned about winning that you forget to enjoy that you’re bringing smiles to the audience. Thank you for being a participant in the show.

The Cosplay Contest crew are volunteers who donate many hours before and during the convention because many of us have been in convention masquerades ourselves. Our volunteer staff will do our best to provide contestants with a fun experience. For any questions, feel free to email the Cosplay Costume Coordinator.

All judges decisions are final.


  • Does it cost anything to enter?
    • No.
  • Is there a limit to the number of people in a group?
    • No, but keep in mind the size of the stage. Only 1 trophy and 4 passes will be given out to DAKUcon 2020 regardless of the number of group members in the winning group.
  • What are the audio guide lines?
    • See audio guidelines
  • What forms do I need to fill out? (see Forms)
    • Please submit all completed entries to the Cosplay Costume Coordinator by September 30, 2019
  • Do I have to have music?
    • No, but having music adds a lot to a performance regardless of your category, so we strongly recommend you supply some that fits the mood of your costume. (see Audio Guidelines)
  • Where and when will the Cosplay Costume Contest be held?
    • Saturday, November 16, 2019,  Doors open @ 3:30 PM; Contest Begins @ 4:00 PM in Main Events
  • How big is the stage?
  • How do I submit my entry?
    • Please submit all entries electronically to the Cosplay Costume Coordinator at by September 30, 2019. This includes all forms, any audio, costume photos and reference artwork. All costumes will be reviewed by our advance panel to assure they meet the Rules criteria for sufficient crafting, quality and content. Supplemental materials for the Craftsmanship category may be brought to prejudging appointment.
  • Can I enter more than one costume?
    • If you are a Creator you may enter more than one costume, but must be present to win. You may not enter a costume in more than one category at a time. (see Cosplay Categories & Divisions)
  • What are the prizes?
    • Prizes will be awarded in Craftsmanship Individual (Apprentice – 1st, 2nd & 3rd places, Expert – 1st, 2nd & 3rd places & Master – 1st, 2nd & 3rd places); Craftsmanship Group (Apprentice – 1st, 2nd & 3rd places, Expert – 1st, 2nd & 3rd places & Master – 1st, 2nd & 3rd places); Best Performance Individual; Best Performance Group; Best in Show Judges’ Choice; Best Re-Creation; Best Original Design; Most Humorous Judges’ Choice; as well as Honorable Mentions.
  • Can I compete in more than one category?
  • How will I know my entry has been received? 
    • All DAKUcon Cosplay Costume entries slots are filled on a first-come-first-served basis. All confirmed entries will receive notification from the Cosplay Costume Coordinator by October 20, 2019.