Basically, once you’ve paid for your membership, nothing at all. There are no additional entry costs or event fees during the convention. If you purchase a full membership, for example, this allows admission to every day and night of the convention and entitles you to attend as many panels, presentations and events as you wish. A day membership entitles you to the same access, but only for the single day and night for which it is purchased.
One of the best descriptions we’ve heard is “a convention is a quiet, intimate gathering for you and a couple hundred of your closest friends”. This is actually closer to the truth than you’d imagine. It’s an opportunity to get together with like-minded individuals. Whether you like TV shows, books, movies, comics or games that could be considered science fiction, fantasy or horror — you’ll meet other folks there with similar interests. It’s a chance to learn and try new things and to make new contacts and friends. But mostly it’s fun!
Ordinary people like yourself volunteer their time to the running of these events. As a rule they do not get paid for this work, they do it for the joy of it. It can sometimes be a little hard, but is very rewarding. They organise everything from the badges, booklets and t-shirts through to the advertising, the venue, the program and of course, the guests. Most conventions are one-off’s: a group gets together to run one and once they’ve run it they go back their lives. Sometimes the same group will run a number of events. In the case of Continuum, we have a gradually changing committee with very diverse backgrounds and interests.
Programs differ from convention to convention, which might run for just a single weekend or for an extended period of time at either end. Continuum 9 will run over four days, including the public holiday on Monday. We’ll open late Friday afternoon, and begin early on the other days. We tend to run until late on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, and finish up in the afternoon of Monday with the Closing Ceremony. Closer to the convention, you will be able to check our programming page for further and more precise information about the timing of specific events, and updates to the program and timetabling changes.
Yes, you do need to take out a membership to attend a convention. There are various kinds of memberships available at different rates, including single day memberships which allow people to come along for just one day if they prefer not to attend the entire four-day event. See this page for more information about joining the convention — Day Membership rates will be set closer to the date.
Whatever they like. Most people are in it for the social side, to mix with people who like the same things. Some are in it to learn about writing or TV work or art or all manner of things. Many people who started as fans have gone on to have professional careers. Some just like to watch panels, some like to participate in running things. Chances are you will find other folks who are interested in the same activities, be that serious creating or meeting up for a drink to talk about the latest films.
There is a perception that everyone who attends dresses up in outlandish outfits for the entire convention; the truth is, only a small number of people walk around the convention in costumes. It used to be more common twenty years ago, but even then it was only about 5% of the attendees. So long as you have shoes (for health and safety reasons) and clothes (because we don’t want to see your dangly bits) that’s all the dressing up you have to do. But if you have a costume and feel like wearing it, feel free.
A fan or group of fans decide to have a party in their hotel room. Room parties can be closed, invite-only affairs, but are more usually open to all and have their room numbers written up on prominent whiteboard in a main thoroughfare of the convention so that you know they are on. Most parties provide some refreshments, but bringing along munchies or a bottle of drink to share is always gratefully accepted. At the bigger conventions, large organised room parties are held by groups bidding for the rights to hold National Conventions and WorldCons.
In Australia we have a yearly National Convention (or NatCon for short) at which awards are given to various professional and fan related fields. Perth has a yearly regional convention called Swancon, Canberra has Conflux, and Continuum is the Melbourne version. On the world stage, there is the yearly WorldCon, a massive event where you get anywhere up to 10,000 fans and professionals attending. The highly prestigious Hugo Awards are given out there. Australia has hosted four World Cons now, in 1975, 1985 1999 and 2010.
A Fan Con doesn’t mean the convention is run by fans (although it usually is), but is a convention where people go to be fans. So, while there may be professional authors, editors and artists attending, they are there to geek out – just like you.
Unlike commercial cons, no one comes to Fan Cons expecting to make money, so there are no organised events like paid autograph signings or professional photography sessions. Any artists who come pay the same admission fee everyone else does and so are not “on tap” for autographs or photos, though they might be available if you ask them nicely and have a bit of a chat (look out for our Continuum 101 for an idea of con etiquette).
Official Guests of Honour are a little bit different, and may have programmed availability for autographs and photos. This will never involve an additional fee to you, the fan attendee.