Nova Scotia has been home to a number of conventions. Many conventions were held from the late 70s through to the 90s, but unfortunately fell out of existence. In late 2008, the idea to bring back a science fiction and gaming convention came about.
A group of keen individuals began work on putting together a new Hal-Con, borrowing the name from a previous Halcon convention which existed years before. Over two years of planning, fundraising, and slogging turned out a brilliant pilot event. The Lord Nelson Hotel was flooded with nearly 1500 fans from all over the Maritimes who turned up in costume to celebrate the return of geeky gatherings. Coverage of the event went nationwide with a feature on InnerSPACE on the Space Channel.
In 2011, Hal-Con moved to the World Trade & Convention Centre, expanding our space and more than doubling attendance. The presence of 3800 fans drew increased attention from the media. After receiving fantastic feedback from fans, we vowed to keep growing.
In 2012, we demonstrated even more remarkable growth. We drew more than 4500 attendees from across Canada and the USA. Everything grew—our number of scheduled events, our floor space, the caliber of the guests, and our total charitable contributions, which crossed the $25,000 mark thanks to our charity auction.
In 2013, we had an unprecedented surge in demands for tickets due to a guest list that included Billy Dee Williams, Jewel Staite, John Rhys-Davies, and Peter Davison. Our existing ticket model (allowing single day passes to be redeemed on any day of the event) proved problematic as Saturday saw too much demand for attendance. Fans were frustrated by difficult entry/exit of the event, heavy pedestrian traffic, and lack of access to their preferred programming. Hal-Con acknowledged the problem, offering immediate no-questions-asked refunds on site, as well as refunds available upon request up to a month after the event. During the peak hours of Saturday, some official guests walked the line-ups outside offering free autographs and chatted with fans. Attendance was estimated at 5400. While it was obvious that we had problems that needed correction, this proved Hal-Con was a popular event and had potential to continue to grow based on audience demand.
Determined to “right the ship,” the team regrouped in 2014 and corrected the issues plaguing the previous year. By allowing tickets only to be valid for one specified day, the total attendance could be easily capped and monitored to allow better event flow. Vigilantly monitoring any issues as they arose, we were able to run a smooth, successful event, working toward establishing our long-term future in the city. Growing once again to approximately 6400 total attendees, we committed to a cautious but optimistic outlook for our future.
In 2015, we saw a huge increase in demand for tickets, resulting in the decision to add the Scotiabank Centre to our venue space. Tickets went on sale in May 2015, and by the beginning of June, all Warp Speed passes (VIP), weekend Passes, children’s passes, student and military passes, and Saturday single-day admission tickets were sold out. This trend continued into 2016, when Warp Speed passes sold out just 14 seconds after ticket launch.
It was clear that we were outgrowing Halifax’s largest venue, even with the addition of the Scotiabank Centre. In 2018, the brand-new Halifax Convention Centre opened with over 120,000 square feet of event space, and Hal-Con promptly moved in. We welcomed 15,000 guests and the feedback we received on the new venue was overwhelmingly positive!
2019 marked our tenth annual event; to commemorate the milestone Hal-Con’s very own design team created a special 10-year logo just for that year’s event. In addition to the 10-year logo there was a complete redesign of the association’s logo and update of the Hal-Con branding to be more contemporary. This was also the year Hal-Con unfortunately had 3 big names canceling weeks before the convention, but our amazing guest team came together to fill those spaces with some equally amazing guests.
Hal-Con’s 10th Year Logo
In 2020, like most conventions, we were forced to cancel our event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hal-Con team stayed active by participating in a number of virtual events, including a film festival, a virtual costume contest, and tons of online gaming!
In 2021, COVID-19 restrictions continued on and it was unclear whether or not Hal-Con could have an in-person event that year. Fairly late into the year the decision to do a scaled back, socially distanced convention was made. Without much time left to pull everything together our volunteers worked overtime to see it done. This was also the year we launched our Virtual Vendor Floor, which remains a permanent fixture today!