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An image from FAN EXPO Canada's Toronto Comicon 2022 (Credit: Photo by Ali Syed for FAN EXPO HQ)
An image from FAN EXPO Canada's Toronto Comicon 2022 (Credit: Photo by Ali Syed for FAN EXPO HQ)

FAN EXPO Canada 2023 to feature 'Scream' reunion, 'An Evening with Hayden Christensen,' stars of 'Cobra Kai,' plus Cosplay Craftsmanship Showcase, Barbie & Pokémon theme days

Tue, Aug 22nd 2023 07:00 am

Event is this weekend in Toronto

√ Q&A with FAN EXPO HQ Vice President Andrew Moyes

Press Release

One of the world’s premier events to meet beloved celebrities, dress up as your favorite superheros or learn to draw a cherished character is this weekend in Toronto. FAN EXPO Canada returns to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for a weekend jam-packed with once-in-a-lifetime, family-friendly events.

FAN EXPO Canada’s official schedule for 2023 is out, complete with a mind-blowing programming lineup that celebrates all things fandom. The four-day extravaganza has events and content for fans of all ages and genres to enjoy, including the Podcast Theatre, themed Pokémon and Barbie days, a 25th anniversary celebration of Frank Miller’s “300,” the Masters of Cosplay Grand Prix presented by Rustoleum, and more. With dynamic programming spaces throughout both the North and South buildings of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, it’s the place to be for fans of pop culture, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, gaming, comics, anime, and cosplay from Aug. 24-27

In addition to the always popular celebrity panels, autographs, and photo ops; informative panels, demos and workshops; eye-catching cosplays, competitions, and cosplay red carpets; and 400,000-square-feet of shopping madness, this year’s show includes special events including “An Evening with Matthew Lillard, Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich and Jamie Kennedy,” “An Evening with Hayden Christensen,” and the SuperPower 5K and 10K runs, among other experiences.

Elijah Wood with a fan.

(FAN EXPO Canada 2022 panels and celebrity guests photos by Adam Freeman for FAN EXPO HQ)


A "Stranger Things" conversation. (FAN EXPO Canada 2022 panels and celebrity guests photos by Adam Freeman for FAN EXPO HQ)


‘Con’-Do Attitude Leads to Growth in FAN EXPO

FAN EXPO HQ Vice President Andrew Moyes provided a preview of FAN EXPO Canada 2023 in this edited Q&A.

Q: Tell me a little bit about FAN EXPO and what makes a FAN EXPO convention unique and special.

Andrew Moyes: I can speak a little bit about the Fan Expo brand. I think what makes us unique is that we produce multigenre shows that welcome everyone, regardless of what their fandom is. So, if you're into sci-fi; gaming; anime; of course, comics, where this all started; horror; of course, fantasy is so huge now; and cosplay – there is a place and a home for you at our conventions.

If you look at our guest list, if you look at our programming, if you look at our approach to all different areas of our events, you will see that we lean in heavily to offer fans the very best in all of those genres.

And then beyond that, FAN EXPO Canada, I think what's special about is it’s a legacy event for us here in Canada. It's the biggest of its kind in Canada. I really think it's our national show, and it's a huge part of fandom in this country. It's always exciting to deliver it in Toronto every year.

Q: And, of course, it's the third-largest in all of North America. I know I've been there several times – you always have an outstanding lineup. Tell me a little bit about what excites you about this year's convention.

Andrew Moyes: Well, look, it's always good to be back and gathering. I think the legacy of the challenges that we had a couple of years ago always make us grateful for the fact that we can celebrate fandom together in person.

I think the guest list is always exciting, too. No doubt you've had a look through the names that are coming to the show this year. And we always say to ourselves, ‘How are we going to top it?’ And I feel every year, again, that we find a way to deliver surreal superstars across the genres, again, to our fans.

One piece that I'm particularly excited about this year is the resurgence of our brand activation in the South Building. Of course, the South Building is where we have the larger retail floor, and Artists Alley and a lot about programming. But we have some huge activations that are back this year that really put this event, I think, as you say, rightly positioned as the third-largest: Amazon Prime, Crunchyroll, Bell Media, Wattpad, Bandai – I mean, these names just like some of the names of the big celebrities, are huge attraction for fans. And there’s Paramount+. It's really quite extraordinary what they're going to deliver, in terms of experiences and activations for the fans. And I think it truly makes us unique, not only as a national but an international event on the pop culture circuit.

Q: The reaction that I've seen to the event has been positive. People are very excited. If we go back a couple of years, I'm guessing that, in 2020, you probably had very limited, if any, events; ’21, you probably were a little bit restricted; last year, probably less restrictions; and this year, of course, the pandemic is over – but now you have two major strikes going on in the entertainment industry. Tell me a little bit about the challenges of the past couple of years and how your company has been able to overcome those challenges.

Andrew Moyes: For the pandemic, I think for every event company, it was kind of extraordinary to be in the business of bringing people together when you can't gather. Our approach to that is, ‘Well, how can we take this time to really improve the experience that we’re offering our fans?’ So, we kept our entire staff with us, and we looked for those opportunities to improve the experience. At the same time, we looked at how can we improve the offering that we have?

So, we actually doubled the size of our business through the pandemic. We now produce 16 of these events across North America, and are the largest producer of comic/con events globally.

We're really excited about how we used that time and how we leveraged the expertise of our staff to position us in that way. And I think, when we came back, the work that was done really paid off, because these events really couldn't be replicated digitally, are virtually. This craving for connection, this craving for celebrating in person, for shared passion, for that exchange, that electricity of being together – just can't be replicated unless you're in the room together. And that continues.

So, we're delighted to have been able to navigate those specific challenges, and to be really coming out on a high to still have a community that wants to support on the platform that we provide.

Now, of course, you know, as event planners, we always want to be in control, and there's always yet another curveball; and of course, the strike has been a one that, again, that we need to navigate.

On the constraints of the strike, it is clear through the guidelines that our sort of events are carved out of the parameters. So, of course, guests are welcome and able to appear. And there’s small nuances and adjusts that we're making to be respectful of the instance of the strikes. You'll see that we're not speaking to the titles, or the characters of the actors that are coming.

From a fan perspective, it might change a little the conversations that they're having; they may not necessarily speak to those characters or their title. But, overall, from the events that we've been producing in recent months, we’re seeing that's actually creating an opportunity for new conversations: You know, what inspires their heroes, wants got their heroes to where they are. So, fans still have that great opportunity to get their collectible or their unique item or their photo signed. They still have a great opportunity to have a photo with a hero. The conversations that they're having are a little different, but still creating that great opportunity for connection.

Michael Rooker takes his own images. (FAN EXPO Canada 2022 panels and celebrity guests photos by Adam Freeman for FAN EXPO HQ)

Jamie Campbell signs an autograph for a fan.

(FAN EXPO Canada 2022 panels and celebrity guests photos by Adam Freeman for FAN EXPO HQ)


Q: Yeah, and connection, I think, is an interesting point. What does it say to you that, despite the challenges these entertainers have, they are willing to come out and still participate – still be with the fans, still take part in an event like this? What does it say about them and their connection with their fans?

Andrew Moyes: Well, I think it speaks to the fact that just like us, without our fans, we don't exist. And I think it's as simple as that. I mean, as I say, when we went through those couple of years where we couldn't gather, it was extraordinary for us to think, ‘OK, we need to understand how we can create the best possible experience to keep exciting and delivering to our fans,’ because again, like the characters, like these actors, like the titles that they participate in, if they don't have a following, if they don't have an audience, then they really cease to exist, in a way.

So, very conscious of that. And we see it as a huge responsibility to deliver the best possible experience we can, to live up to the investments that our fans are making to participate with us, and the expectations that they've come to have for the signature events they look forward to, and block off time for, and save up for, and create incredible costumes for year over year.

Tyler Hoechlin takes a selfie.

(FAN EXPO Canada 2022 panels and celebrity guests photos by Adam Freeman for FAN EXPO HQ)


Jam-Packed Schedule of Events

New this year is the Cosplay Craftsmanship Showcase, a display of cosplay outfits from past Masters of Cosplay Grand Prix winners showcasing the craftsmanship of cosplay outfits with insight into the cosplayers who create them. Sunday, Aug. 27 is “Barbie Bash,” a day fans can spend celebrating the iconic character on the Pink Carpe, with Barbie-themed sketch duels and photo ops; Barbie and Ken cosplay contests; and the Barbie ice cream social, where attendees will have the opportunity to meet the longtime voice of Barbie, Chris Lansdowne. New anime programming include screenings, the Itasha Car Exhibit showcasing the sub-culture of anime-decorated vehicles, and the Maid Café.

Returning to this year’s convention is Tattoo Alley, where fans can watch master artists at work and get nerd-inspired ink themselves; the Horror Stage returns by popular demand with a hair-raising line up of demos, panels, competitions, shopping and classic horror film screenings. Fans can relax and play some video games at the Femme Gaming Free Play Lounge, then learn more about Femme Gaming at their Ladies Power Hour; the Bell Esports Challenge is back at FAN EXPO Canada, with the live in-person finals of the amateur esports tournament series; and Bear Sailor Moon’s Lip Sync Extravaganza offers the chance to cheer for the favorite sync-er or compete in a fun-filled, winner-takes-all lip sync battle.

FAN EXPO Canada previously announced a massive guest lineup for 2023, including stars Charlie Cox, Christina Ricci, Danny Trejo, Hayden Christensen, Jon Bernthal, Neve Campbell, Shameik Moore, Vincent D'Onofrio, Zachary Levi and many more from the worlds of TV, film, animation and video games. Comic Creator guests include Frank Miller, Joe Quesada, Andy Kubert, Dan Slott, Donny Cates, Jason Fabok, Steve McNiven, Zeb Wells, Simone Di Meo, Jim Shooter, Ken Lashley and many more.

Attendees can expect to be wowed by activations from Prime Video, Paramount, Disney, Crunchyroll, StackTV, PlayStation, Xbox, Squishmallows, Hasbro, eBay, Wattpad, Bandai Namco and Tamashii Nations.

FAN EXPO Canada 2022 (Credit: Photos by Ali Syed for FAN EXPO HQ)


Programming Highlights for FAN EXPO Canada

•CELEBRITY PANELS: Beyond autograph signings and photo ops, celebrity guests will take part in CONversations where fans can learn more about their storied lives and careers.

•SPECIAL EVENTS AND EXPERIENCES: FAN EXPO Canada presents a lineup of special events and experiences for attendees.

All special events require admission to FAN EXPO Canada and some events require an additional ticket purchase.

√ “An Evening with Matthew Lillard, Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich and Jamie Kennedy”*

√ “An Evening with Hayden Christensen”*

√ “300” 25th anniversary panel*** and Frank Miller meet-and-greet**

√ Maid Cafe**

√ After-hours Anime Rave party**

√ Barbie ice cream social with meet-and-greet opportunity with Chris Lansdowne, the longtime voice of Barbie!**

√ Draw n’ Jam***

√ Bad Movie and Colour***

√ Bear Sailor Moon’s Lip Sync Extravaganza***

√ The 404s Improv Comedy Show***

√ “Doctor Who”-themed escape rooms**

*Additional ticket purchase required for priority seating (gold and silver ticket packages). General admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis, but seating is not guaranteed.
**Additional ticket purchase required.
***No additional ticket purchase required.

•SUPERPOWER 5K / 10K: Grab your capes and unleash your superpowers at the SuperPower 5K and 10K. At the all-ages fun run on Toronto Island, you'll be inspired to move through the course where surprises await around the corner. An event like no other, the SP5K brings runners of all levels and their families together for a fun and welcoming race experience. Entry includes the SuperPower 5K medal, Dri-Fit event shirt, and an exclusive day pass to FAN EXPO Canada to explore the show on opening day.

Runners will unlock their inner heroes when they register and help raise funds for Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital through the pledge program.

•BARBIE BASH – SUNDAY, AUG. 27: On Sunday, fans can spend a day dedicated to celebrating the iconic character, including Barbie-themed sketch duels in the comics area and Barbie video games at Femme Gaming Lounge, plus all-day activities in the dedicated Barbie Bash space, including a Barbie box photo-op where everyone can step into a life-sized Barbie box and strike their best Barbie pose, selfie stations, a Pink Carpet photo op, a makeup/hair/accessory station, dance party, speed dating, Barbie and Ken Costume Contest on the Pink Carpet, Barbie-themed crafts, and a ticketed event, the Barbie ice cream social!

•SCREENINGS: FAN EXPO Canada attendees can get special looks at upcoming titles including:

√ Prime Video’s “The Wheel of Time” season 2, episode 1

√ Global and Stack TV’s “Robyn Hood”

√ “Ultraman Blazar” episodes 1 and 2

√ Apple TV+’s “Invasion” episodes 1 and 2

•ANIME ACTIVITIES: FAN EXPO Canada welcomes back Wasabi Anime for their sixth year guiding the anime and Asian pop culture content for Canada’s largest celebration of fandom! This year’s programming is designed to engage seasoned otaku while simultaneously presenting an introduction for casual fans to learn more about anime, manga, K-pop, and everything Asian-based entertainment has to offer. Check out panels, presentations, game shows, voice actors, and an anime viewing room showcasing titles from VIZ Media, AnimEigo, and Nozomi Entertainment. This is THE year for anime in Canada, and fans won’t want to miss it!

•PODCAST PROGRAMMING: FAN EXPO Canada presents four days of live podcast programming in partnership with the Sonar Network. Featuring some of the best local and national podcasters including “Pilot Fighters” with special guests Alexa Steele and David Reale, “One Dollar Words” with Food Network host John Catucci, “The FANFIC We Just Wrote Just Now! Squirrel Talk Podcast LIVE,” “The Movie Podcast,” “The Comedy Roast of Barbie,” “Spooked!” with special guest Mark Little, “The Panel Show,” “D&D Live!”, “Vanderpump Robs” with Peter Madrigal of “Vanderpump Rules!”, “Seán Cullen and Chris Locke are Two Sailors Who Are Nuts,” “Let’s Bring Shawn Mendes to Fan Expo! – A Nerdy Standup Comedy Showcase,” “Comedy Roast Battle: Marvel Vs DC,” “Comedy Con – Improvised Geek Comedy,” “The Fandom Show,” “Roleplaying 101 – A Guide to TTRPGs,” “Correct Me If I'm Wrong,” and “Nerd Wars: Star Wars VS Star Trek.”

•COSPLAY CRAFTS AND COMPETITIONS: FAN EXPO Canada is Canada’s No. 1 destination for cosplay! With a lineup of 11 award-winning cosplay craftsman guests, four days of panels, hands-on workshops, cosplay photo meet-ups and more, this is THE weekend for cosplayers! Attendees can show off their costumes and get their photo taken by the official red-carpet photographer for free when they walk the Cosplay Red Carpet! This daily cosplay exhibition is not to be missed and is the best time to see all the amazing work at FAN EXPO Canada.

The Masters of Cosplay Grand Prix Presented by Rustoleum is bigger than ever before in 2023! On Saturday, Aug. 25, the best cosplayers from the region compete for cosplay glory in the Maple Leaf Qualifier. Then, watch as all eight qualifier winners from across North America take to the stage to decide who is the 2023 Master of Cosplay!

•CAPTIVATING COMICS: Be sure to check out the comic theater for four packed days of drawing and coloring demos, sneak previews and industry insights. Comic pros will be on hand to share expert tips and tricks, or fans can take a seat and pick a side for the ultimate “Sketch Duels” showdowns. Artist Alley also returns for anyone interested in meeting rising stars who work the front lines of the industry. This staple of the show offers everything from comics and graphic novels, to limited-edition prints and original artwork.

•GAMING GOINGS-ON: From tabletop to D&D, to e-gaming and more, FAN EXPO Canada is a gamer’s paradise! Attendees can become a card and tabletop gaming master at the eBay Victory Road gaming room; explore the world of professional e-gaming with Bell; drop in and play at the tabletop gaming room with Focht's Network, The Guild House, and Unite the Factions; see Dungeons & Dragons in action at one of the live-action D&D shows; relax and play some video games at the Femme Gaming Free Play Lounge or learn more at panels with Femme Gaming; participate in the Princess Margaret x AMD Quest to Conquer Cancer Charity Stream featuring live streamers, freeplay, VR experiences, and all for a good cause; plus more to give gamers four days of nonstop content!

•LITERARY LINEUP: Booklovers can meet their favorites with today’s best authors at the Wattpad booth. Plus, FAN EXPO Canada has partnered with Wattpad, WCYR (The Writers' Community of York Region), Horror Writers Association Ontario Chapter, and Dundurn Press to bring more literary programming than ever before with drop-in literary panels throughout the weekend where attendees can learn the ins and outs of plotting, world building and publishing!

•HORROR HAPPENINGS: Fans of the spookier side of things can indulge in their dark side with four days of horror-related panels, demos, competitions and performances! Horror-lovers can peruse the horror retailers for devilish delights, check out games and drop-in activities, phantom-tastic photo ops, the Haunted Hints Escape Room, the “Scream Supreme” contest to see whose scream is ready for the spotlight, and enjoy classic horror film screenings throughout the weekend. Screenings include “Horror Through the Ages: Nosferatu” (1922), “The Devil Bat” (1940), “Little Shop of Horrors” (1960) and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978).

•THE FAMILY ZONE: FAN EXPO Canada has exciting offerings and activities for fans of all ages with the dedicated Family Zone offering four full days of fun and activities the whole family can enjoy, including drop-in games and photo ops, U-Cre-8 Comics, Joe Wos Cartoon Academy, “The Little Mermaid” photo op, princess sing-a-longs and meet-and-greets; and a performance by iconic performers Sharon & Bram!

•THE ULTIMATE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE: With hundreds of retailers on the convention floor, attendees are in for an unforgettable experience. Whether it’s a rare comic book, original artwork, graphic novels, memorabilia, collectibles, videos, games, toys or T-shirts, there’s a vendor for it here.

FAN EXPO Canada 2022 (Credit: Photos by Ali Syed for FAN EXPO HQ)


Selection of Additional Activations

•THE LODGE: A PARAMOUNT EXPERIENCE: Fan Expo attendees are welcomed in to the warmth of “The Lodge: A Paramount Experience,” where every room is another universe; guests can join the family at the “Yellowstone” ranch; witness the crashed ice-cream truck as they travel through the post-apocalyptic wasteland of “Twisted Metal”; fight crime in New York City with the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”; take a seat in a “Star Trek” captain’s chair; and have a final splash with SpongeBob, Patrick and all things Nickelodeon. Guests looking for a few moments to kick back, can relax out front of “The Lodge” on the Pluto TV Muskoka chairs and enjoy some fan-favorite programming. And the experience doesn’t end there: Attendees won’t want to miss the ParamountShop.com activation, with Fan Expo specific merchandise for all “The Lodge” offerings and more is just a QR Code away!

•PRIME VIDEO: Prime Video gives fans the ultimate experience this FAN EXPO Canada! Onsite at booth PV01, Prime Video brings to life three distinct worlds from Amazon Studios hit series “The Boys,” “Invincible” and “The Wheel of Time.” Guests will navigate through a tale of good versus evil as they embark on their journey, with interactions filled with unique show premiums, photo moments and more! Then on Friday, Aug. 25, from 4-5 p.m. in the South Building – Level 700, Room 701A, Prime Video brings “The Wheel of Time” to the big screen for a special sneak peek of season 2 ahead of its return on Sept. 1. Don’t miss it!

For the full programming schedule, visit fanexpohq.com/fanexpocanada/schedule.

For a complete list of programming, guests, info. and tickets, visit https://fanexpohq.com/fanexpocanada/.

An image from FAN EXPO Canada’s Toronto Comicon 2022 (Credit: Photo by Ali Syed for FAN EXPO HQ)


Attending FAN EXPO Canada from Outside of Toronto?

Round-trip GO Fare makes it easy for fans to get to the show in a Flash (get it?). FAN EXPO Canada has partnered with Metrolinx to get fans to and from the event safely. The GO add-on ticket includes round-trip GO Transit fare from any GO Station to Union Station and ensures they don’t miss a minute of the action. The GO add-on ticket can be added during checkout when buying tickets to FAN EXPO Canada.

*Children 12 and under ride the GO for free.

For more details and to purchase a GO add-on ticket, visit the link.

More About FAN EXPO Canada

FAN EXPO Canada is the largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and gaming event in Canada, and the third-largest pop culture event in North America. The show has grown from a small comic book convention attracting 1,500 fans into a multifaceted and multiple day citywide event that attracts hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. Every year, FAN EXPO Canada offers exciting family-friendly attractions, events, and world-renowned celebrities! Previous guests included Stan Lee, Patrick Stewart, Buzz Aldrin, William Shatner, Christopher Lloyd, Elijah Wood, Leonard Nimoy, Carrie Fisher, Gillian Anderson, and stars from hit television shows “The Walking Dead,” “Star Trek,” “The Vampire Diaries,” “Arrow,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Teen Wolf,” “Doctor Who,” “Gotham,” “Criminal Minds,” “Castle,” and many, many more. The all-ages pop culture convention expects to host over 125,000 fans in 750,000 square-feet of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the four-day event.


FAN EXPO HQ is the largest comic con producer in the world. Collectively, it hosts nearly 1 million fans annually at FAN EXPO Canada, MEGACON Orlando, FAN EXPO Denver, Calgary Comics & Entertainment Expo, FAN EXPO Chicago, FAN EXPO Dallas, FAN EXPO Boston, FAN EXPO Philadelphia, Edmonton Comics & Entertainment Expo, FAN EXPO San Francisco, Toronto Comicon, FAN EXPO Cleveland, FAN EXPO New Orleans, FAN EXPO Portland, FAN EXPO Vancouver, and Dallas FAN FESTIVAL. The latest 2023 schedule of events is available here, along with up-to-date ticket information. Discover. Celebrate. Belong.

Connect with FAN EXPO Canada on social:

Niagara Frontier Publications GM/Managing Editor Joshua Maloni contributed to this report.


See also >> Crunchyroll heads up north for first-ever showing at FAN EXPO Canada

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