The 2023 Masquerade on-stage costume competition (or Cosplay Competition for those who favor that term), a tradition at Comic-Con from almost its beginning, will be Saturday evening, July 22, starting at 8:30 PM. The event celebrates not only the contribution of costuming to the popular arts, but also the amazing creations that our attendees make and bring to the convention. The costume presentations, intermission entertainment, and then awards presentation will run 2 and ½ hours and be set in the Convention Center’s 3,900-seat Ballroom 20, with overflow seating again available at the large screen in the Sails Pavilion.

Not a dance or party as the name may imply, it is more akin to a talent show set on a large stage before an audience, showcasing amazing costumes crafted by our non-professional but still very creative and talented attendees. Most costumes will be impressive re-creations from movies, television, anime, comic books, fantasy, Broadway shows, video games, and history; others will be completely original designs from the imagination. Some will be solo entries; others will be groups with a shared theme. All genres are welcome, but NO purchased costumes are allowed. The event is free to participate in, or to have a seat in the audience, for anyone with a convention badge valid for Saturday.

Why do we title this event the Masquerade instead of simply a costume contest? Simply put, “to masquerade” means to portray someone other than yourself, and our contestants often bring to the stage as much performance imagination as they do workmanship by portraying characters and creating presentations with specially selected music that create story, mood, drama, humor, and more.  And our giant high-definition video screens and multiple cameras display great close-up views of the costumes to everyone. Those in the audience need not come in costume, but feel free to add to the fun and spirit of the event and dress in something unique!

Our Master of Ceremonies will again be the always entertaining five-time Hugo Award-winning artist and writer Phil Foglio. Together with his wife, Kaja, Phil has created, published, and contributed to a variety of comics, art, and games in the science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk genres through their company and website, featuring their Girl Genius series.

After the costume presentations, while the judges tally their scores, we’ll be treated to return entertainment by the Jedha Temple chapter of The Saber Guild, the largest not-for-profit Lucasfilm-recognized Star Wars lightsaber club in the world, thrilling us with an original Star Wars storyline, great costumes, and choreographed action.  If you are a fan of Star Wars, you don’t want to miss their lightsaber-filled performance. Following them will see the very talented and always fun Corps Dance Crew returning to our stage. The Corps, a non-professional entertainment group that melds cosplay, dance, and popular music, has toured all over Southern California to bring unique performances to many events and conventions.

Masquerade tickets assure a seat, but not required:

Rather than see attendees line up for hours to be certain they get a seat, free tickets will be given out at 12 noon on Saturday to those lining up near Ballroom 20 and will be available again from 3:00-5:00 PM at the Masquerade Desk until all are given out. Once you have your ticket you are guaranteed a seat, and you can go enjoy other programming and line up later knowing there’s a chair for you.  After the ticket-holders line has gone into the ballroom, it becomes open seating for anyone who shows up until the room is filled, no ticket is required.

Professional badge holders who are program participants, and a limited number of press with verified credentials, may obtain tickets ahead of time at the Masquerade Desk near Ballroom 20 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00 to 5:00. Special invited guests of the convention may request VIP seating. Disabled attendees should visit the Deaf and Disabled Services desk to learn about their special seating for the show. As always, there will be a signer for the hearing impaired.


No flash photography is allowed of the stage event, although non-flash photography and video recording are welcome. There will be a flash-allowed Photo-Op area within a nearby room where contestants will go after their stage presentations, and photographers or press wishing Photo Area access should reserve a spot in advance by writing to

How to Enter:

To request a contestant spot in the show, download the complete Masquerade Information & Rules and Entry Form from this webpage, fill it out, and email it soon to A photo of your crafted costume is required for review before you can be fully accepted. It may be possible to also sign up at the convention at the Masquerade Desk in the Convention Center on Thursday IF there have been cancellations and spots have opened up. Photos of the costume you will be wearing (or if a group entry, photos of all the costumes) are needed for reviewing before acceptance. Contestants must be at least age 12 to participate. Deadline for Entries is July 5, but usually we fill up weeks earlier.

Masquerade Information & Rules and Entry Form


Comic-Con Trophies awarded in several categories:

Our Comic-Con trophy medallions, custom-designed for us by popular fantasy artist Sue Dawe and fabricated by the same company that produces awards for the Emmy®, Golden Globes®, and People's Choice® Awards, are bestowed by the guest judges panel in categories of Best in Show, Judges’ Choice, Best Re-Creation, Best Original Design, Best Workmanship, Most Humorous, Most Beautiful, and Best Young Fan. Those trophy winners will also receive Free 4-day badges to Comic-Con 2024.

Additional Awards:

Several companies and organizations are generously supporting the event by offering cash and other prizes of their own, and will be awarding winners selected by their representatives:

  • Frank & Son Collectible Show of the City of Industry, California, “The first and last stop for all your collectible needs” will take a break from their large bi-weekly mini-cons to present a generous $1,000 cash prize, plus a beautiful trophy, to the entry they deem to be the Audience Favorite (so be sure to generously applaud your favorites!).
  • The Art Directors Guild, IATSE Local 800. The ADG, which has presented panels at Comic-Con for over a dozen years, has among its members art directors, graphic artists, illustrators & storyboard artists, model makers, pre-vis artists, production designers, scenic artists, set designers and title artists of the motion picture, theater, and TV industries. The ADG is presenting two $500 awards: The Art Directors Guild Cosplay Award for Original Concept Design, presented to the entry most exemplifying a wholly original concept, and The Art Directors Guild Cosplay Award for Best Visual Media Design, presented to the entry whose design best interprets a character or concept from a television show or motion picture.
  • The Costume Designers Guild IATSE Local 892.  Hollywood costume designers from the CDG will present to their favorite entry a Costume Designers Guild trophy designed and crafted by Thingergy, the premier special FX costume/prop/makeup shop in Burbank, California, plus a $500 gift certificate from International Silks and Woolens in Los Angeles! The Costume Designers Guild is Local 892 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) and represents costume designers, assistant costume designers, and costume illustrators working at the highest levels of expertise in motion pictures, TV, commercials, music videos, and new media.  
  • The Costumer's Guild West (CGW), southern California’s costuming fandom group, will present a one-year membership to CGW, as well as a full scholarship and a complimentary one-night hotel stay to their weekend conference, Costume College®, held the last weekend in July (winner may choose 2024 or 2025) in Los Angeles, CA, to the entry their representatives select as showing the most promise. Costume College provides educational lectures and workshops in every aspect of costuming.
  • Comic-Con International will present a special award given in memory of a long-time Committee and Board member, Alan Campbell, who passed away and is sorely missed. Alan was a great fan of the Masquerade, at times generously donating his own prize. The Alan Campbell Award will be $500 cash, presented to the entry deemed Best Re-Creation of a Comics or Related Media Character or Characters, as selected by a representative of the Board of Directors

More prizes may join this list as the convention approaches. Please check the website for updates, and start planning now how to dress to impress at Comic-Con!