Costuming plays a vital role in the popular arts, with a long history in cultures around the world, and yet always bringing forth new concepts, designs, and materials to work with. It’s an especially fun, educational, and creative ingredient of WonderCon, and we are pleased to provide an opportunity once again for our attendees to showcase their costumes in front of an audience of thousands.

The 18th annual WonderCon Masquerade on-stage costume competition (or Cosplay Competition for those who favor that term) will be Saturday evening, March 25th at the Anaheim Convention Center. Start time will be 8:30 PM and the costume presentations, followed by judging intermission entertainment then awards presentation will run about 2 hours.

Not a dance or party as the name may imply, it’s a series of stage presentations of amazing and inventive costumes crafted by our non-professional but 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 never seen before designs from the imagination of the contestants. 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, mood, drama, humor, a surprise or two, even a mock battle.  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 dress in something interesting!

How to Enter: To request a contestant spot in the show, download the Masquerade Information & Rules pamphlet and entry form here, fill in your information and email it soon to A photo of your crafted costume is eventually required for review before you can be fully accepted. There is a limit on the number of contestants accepted, so submitting an entry form early is strongly recommended. Contestants must be at least age 12 to participate.

No flash photography is allowed of the stage event, although non-flash photography and video recording is welcome for non-public use. There will be a flash-allowed posing area with backdrop in a nearby room where contestants will go after their stage presentations, and photographers and press wishing a Photo Area pass should reserve a spot in advance by writing to the above mail.

In addition to many amazing contestant costumes on the stage, there will be live entertainment during judging intermission by return performances from members of the Saber Guild, a Lucasfilm-recognized Star Wars costume group that specializes in choreographed lightsaber shows at charity and community events, as well as comic book and sci-fi conventions. Plus, a return performance by The Corps Dance Crew, a professional-level dance crew that performs at many pop culture conventions and other events, bringing anime, comics and other pop culture to life through amazing group choreographed dances that always thrill our audiences.

WonderCon trophies will be awarded for the most outstanding costumes, as selected by our 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, and those trophy winners will also receive free attendee badges to our 2024 WonderCon. Plus, there will be generous cash and other prizes provided by companies and organizations.

-  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 $500 cash prize to the entry their representative deems to be the audience favorite (so be sure to generously applaud your favorites!). =

Costumer's Guild West (CGW), southern California’s non-profit 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 costuming arts conference, Costume College®, held annually the last weekend in July in Woodland Hills, California, to the entry their representatives select as showing the most promise (prize valid for 2023 or 2024). Costume College provides educational lectures and workshops in every aspect of costuming. 

San Diego Comic Convention  will present a special award given in memory of 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. This award is $500 cash presented to the Best Re-Creation of a comics character or characters, as selected by a WonderCon representative. 

More prizes may join this list as the convention approaches, check our website for updates in the coming weeks, but the real reward is all the smiles and applause you’ll be bringing the audience as together we celebrate the amazing art of costuming, and the creative talents of our attendees!

Come and enjoy an evening celebrating not just the importance of costuming to the popular arts, but also the ingenuity, skills, and hard work of our costumers. Without all of their dedicated time and efforts creating costumes to wear at the convention, whether worn for the Masquerade or just for strolling the exhibit hall and corridors, WonderCon would be missing a lot of beauty, awe, and fun!