Hal-Con Costume Contest

Our annual costume contest is one of Hal-Con’s most-anticipated events. Each year, entrants continue to amaze with their craftsmanship, performance, and stage presence!

Need info about entering the costume contest? Jump to the section you’re looking for:

If you have any questions about the costume contest that were not answered below or if you would like to sponsor an award, please contact our contest organizers.

Watching the Costume Contest

The costume contest is usually held on the last day of convention, which is Sunday. It’s a main stage event that always packs the house! Check the convention schedule for exact times, and make sure you get in line early to guarantee yourself a seat— better yet, enjoy premium seating access with Impulse or Warp Speed passes.

Participating in the Costume Contest

Participation in the costume contest is free as long as you have an admission ticket that is valid for the day of the contest. However, competitor spaces are limited, please see registration times below to make sure you secure your slot as soon as possible.

There are two components to the costume contest: the Stage Competition and the Workmanship Competition. The Stage Competition is the main show— that’s the part of the costume contest that you’ll see on the main stage. The Workmanship Competition involves individual judging of cosplay/costume entries by appointment between 11am and 3pm on the day of the contest. 

All entrants in the Workmanship Competition must also enter the Stage Competition, but you can choose to only participate in the Stage Competition (and not the Workmanship Competition) if you desire!

Costume Contest Registration

Friday: 12:00PM – 5:00PM

Saturday: 9:00AM – 4:00PM
*Last Day for Workmanship Competition Entries

Sunday: 9:00AM – 12:00PM
*Stage Competition Entries Only

Stage Competition Overview & Regulations

Any Hal-Con attendee can enter the Stage competition! There are no restrictions on costumes other than what is generally permitted at Hal-Con. For an outline of what costumes are permitted at Hal-Con, see our Costume Policies section.

Non-humans will not be allowed backstage or onstage. If your costume requires a less human companion (dog, cat, snake, mouse, bird, etc), they must be stuffed or simulated. Exceptions will only be made for non-humans required for assistance by the contestant such as guide/service dogs.

If your costume is a commission (someone else has made it), it can be entered into the stage competition, but you must give credit to the person who made the costume at time of registration. Please note that commissioned costumes may not be entered into the Workmanship Competition.

Given the show’s time constraints, you must inform costume contest staff if you intend to put on a stage performance (i.e. do anything other than walk on and off the stage) by either contacting them at CostumeContest@hal-con.com before the convention or telling them when you register for the competition. Anything done on stage that is not previously approved by costume contest staff will result in disqualification from competition. No alterations to your requests will be permitted after you have registered. Unfortunately, we cannot accept music or sound submissions at this time.

Entrants in the Stage Competition are eligible to win awards. See what awards are given out annually in the Awards section.

Workmanship Competition Overview & Regulations

When you register for any category in the Workmanship Competition, you will be given an appointment time during your category’s given time slot. All appointments will be between 11am and 3pm on the day of the competition. Entrants must report to the provided location for a five-minute one-on-one judging session. Once your judging is complete, you are free to go enjoy the rest of the con until it is time to line up for the Stage Competition.

All Workmanship Competition contestants must also enter the Stage Competition or they will be disqualified.

Reference photos (pictures of the character you’re cosplaying, unless your cosplay is an original design) are required at time of registration. They can be digital or physical.

All Workmanship Competition contestants are required to fill out a Highlights Sheet and bring with them to their judging appointment. Fraudulent information on this sheet will result in immediate removal from competition. 

Purchased or commissioned costumes may not be entered into the Workmanship Competition. They can only be entered in the Stage Competition.

Below is an outline of what counts as a “purchased costume”:

  • Mass-produced costumes you typically find in stores, regardless of where you obtained it
  • Less than 80% of your costume was made or drastically altered by you
  • Costumes made for business purposes (theatrical/professional) or commissioned costumes (made for you by someone else)
  • Costumes composed of various store-bought pieces which have not been sufficiently altered or customized

Costume contest judges reserve the right to determine whether or not a costume counts as “purchased”.Not sure which category to enter? Click here to view a breakdown of what the judges will be looking for in each category. This breakdown can be useful in deciding what category you feel you should enter based on the level of your costuming skill.

Workmanship Costume Categories & Entry Rules

If you hold Workmanship (or similar) awards for costuming from Hal-Con or any other recognized event, you cannot enter a category below that level. For example, if you placed 2nd in the Journeyman category at Hal-Con or the equivalent category at another convention, you cannot compete in the Novice category at Hal-Con.

 If you place (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) three times in the same category in the Hal-Con Costume Contest, you are promoted to the next category level and unable to enter a lower category. For example, if you place in the Journeyman category three years in a row, you must now enter the Artisan category or higher.

All children 12 years of age or under must enter the Junior category.

All professionals must enter the Masters category. Professionals are defined as an individual or individuals who earn 50% or more of their living by costuming.

Purchased or commissioned costumes can only be entered in the Stage Competition.

All Workmanship Competition Contestants must also enter the Stage Competition or they will be disqualified from prizing.


Any contestant 12 years of age or under at the time of the competition will compete as a junior. The Junior Division of our Workmanship Competition is divided into two subdivisions.

Junior Self-Made: A junior contestant who has largely or wholly constructed their own costume.

Junior Adult-Made: A junior contestant whose costume has been largely or wholly constructed by an adult.


All Novice contestants must be 13 years of age or older. Contestants must have no awards for costuming from Hal-Con or other conventions/events above the Novice level.

Entrants must display a basic knowledge of craftsmanship. Novice is the only category under which clothes that were purchased can be used, as long as they have been altered in a major way. At least 80% of the purchased item(s) must be altered.


All Journeyman contestants must be 13 years of age or older. Journeyman contestants can (but are not required to) have awards in costuming of an equal or lower level, and should display an average knowledge of craftsmanship.


All Artisan contestants must be 13 years of age or older. Artisan contestants can (but are not required to) have awards in costuming of an equal or lower level, and should display an above average knowledge of craftsmanship.


All Master contestants must be 13 years of age or older. Master contestants may hold awards in all categories and should display a professional level of craftsmanship, attention to detail, and performance. All industry professionals, i.e. anyone making more than 50% of their income from costuming, must enter the Master category.

Grand Master

All Grand Master contestants must be 13 years of age or older. Grand Master contestants must hold 3 Master, Master equivalent, or higher placement awards to enter this division. These awards can be from any costume competition, but you may be asked to provide proof of non-Hal-Con awards. Grand Master contestants should display a professional level of craftsmanship in multiple mediums, attention to detail, and performance.


This section is for informational purposes only and is subject to change without notice, although changes to award categories will not happen once registration has begun. Awards vary from year to year, and are often sponsored by interested fan groups, other local groups, and businesses. If you would like to sponsor an award, please contact our contest organizers.

Stage Awards

Most Stage Awards are created by the judges during the contest to highlight achievement in excellence. The categories they come up with are varied and may not be awarded year after year, but there are a few which we strongly suggest to them as long as the minimum number of entries is met:

  • Group
  • Skit and/or Presentation
  • Video Game
  • Duo
  • Original Concept
  • Major Props
  • Sacred Tradition of the Onesie

The judges also each get to pick a personal favourite costume based on whatever qualifications they deem fit.
Some examples of awards which have been created in the past are:

  • Look-Alike
  • Rockin’ Retro
  • Most Accurate
  • Crowd Pleaser
  • From a Novel
  • From a Cartoon
  • Genderbend
  • From TV
  • Horror
  • Mashup
  • Tamer of the Tendrils

There is no guarantee any of these will be awarded again — they are listed here only as examples to highlight how varied the Stage Awards can be.

Workmanship Competition Awards

Workmanship Competition contestants are judged and winners are decided before the Stage Competition begins. In this way, we are able to award their prizes at the end of the Stage Competition, in front of everyone! If you are a Workmanship Competition winner, you will be notified of your award after you exit the main stage area by a costume contest staff member. We will escort you to the waiting room until it is your turn to go back out on stage and receive your award.

Best of Show

This is awarded to the best performance and display of craftsmanship by an individual or group. Best of Show is the highest award given, and winners are given no other awards within the same year.

The costume(s) — but not the participants — awarded this level of prestige are eliminated from competition at future Hal-Con events. This means that if you win Best of Show, you can still enter the costume contest in future years, just not with the same costume. 

Best of Show draws from all participants in the competition, and is not exclusive to Workmanship Competition contestants or any particular category.

Previous Winners

Contact Costume Contest Organizers

If you have any questions about the costume contest or would like to apply to sponsor an award, please email us at CostumeContest@hal-con.com. You can find additional contact information on our Contact page.