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Otakon kicks off with Otakon Matsuri

Usually for a convention Thursday is the set up day where staff slog through all that is required to set up the convention; hooking up tech gear, setting up projectors, counting badges. There usually isn't much more for congoers to do other than check-in to their hotel rooms and possibly pick up their badge.

Not often is Thursday yet another day of the convention - yet at Otakon there seems to be something special about Thursday and Sunday. Yesterday (that's Thursday, for those of you in the future), Otakon kicked off with the Thursday Otakon Matsuri for the fifth year.

The Otakon Matsuri is a kind of special outdoors pre-Otakon. It almost looks like a mini convention itself. There are booths selling things (mostly equivalent to what you might see in an artists alley), tables representing other conventions, and even some Otakon merch you can buy. All of this is camped around a major outdoor stage, which was the focus of the event.

The events kicked off with some fun things like a Free! Swimsuit Cosplay Competition, and then ended off with great back-to-back performances from Project: BECK and then Back-On. Both performers rocked out, and by the end of the Back-On concert we estimated at least 1,500 people in the crowd.

The only downside to Otakon Matsuri is that it's happening right during badge pickup, and the lines this year didn't look any better than last year. While no one checked badge at the Matsuri, you might have had to choose between attending the Matsuri or saving yourself from Friday badge pickup lines.

Otakon Matsuri moves into fullswing from Friday, July 24th to Sunday, July 26th at the Baltimore Convention Center and surrounding hotels.
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