Ahh conventions, a place to forget about the real world, hang out with friends, meet new people, and just generally be surrounded by the things that make you smile. What could make this better you ask?
Enter Holiday Matsuri, a convention in Orlando, Florida, that takes all of the things you love about conventions and throws in the joy of Christmas and a whole lot of holiday cheer. HolMat (Holiday Matsuri is its formal title) takes place at the Orlando Marriott World Center which is a resort just 10 minutes away from Disney Springs. Previously hearing of this convention as a place where people go and make Christmas versions of their favorite characters, it was honestly never high on the list of cons to travel to; especially since we’re literally on the other side of the country. Deciding to make the trip because of suggestions from close friends as well as the hope of seeing some of our online friends, we took the leap to make the trek and we sure are glad we did!
HolMat had a great line up of professional cosplayers such as Alyson Tabbitha, Phil Mizuno, Rage Gear Props, and Hoku Props that were guesting, as well as an equally as impressive group of cosplayers such as Moderately Okay Cosplay, Akrcos, and Nipahcos that attended for fun. The atmosphere was relaxed and personal allowing everyone the chance to mingle and meet new people. In addition to the great guests and decorations, HolMat offers some great photo ops. They provided multiple Christmas themed sets that you could use by donating to their chosen charity of the year.
The grounds of the hotel offer some unique settings for all types of cosplays, including their outdoor pool area that has a waterfall cavern, massive slides, and a rock features. Might sound strange to feature a pool at a Christmas convention, but Florida was still pleasant enough that we were bummed about our decision to skip on packing the swim suits.
HolMat’s night life is unexpectedly lively and adult. The Christmas facade had us thinking it would be more family oriented, but Cosplay Deviants sponsored most of the evening parties and there were many 18+ panels and contests. The nightlife at this con was honestly more comparable to DragonCon, which was unexpected to say the least but incredibly welcome!
Now, you’re thinking this con can’t be totally perfect, and you’re right it did have a few drawbacks. The staff was incredibly friendly but the lines to pick up badges were absolutely AWFUL. Like 3+ hours to pick up badges. The badges themselves were really poor quality too, and we spotted many broken ones and almost all of the people we stayed with had their badges break over the weekend. There were not a lot of food options or places to walk to around the con, either. The hotel had a very extensive market and a few food options, but after 3 days, pizza and chicken tendies were getting old. We found ourselves using Postmates frequently, and the Lyft ride from the airport was a little pricey so be prepared for that.
Other than that, we loved HolMat and would love to go back. The creativity seen through holiday cosplay exceeded all expectations. If you are looking for a great event to spend time with friends and let off some stress off during the holiday season, then this magical wonderland of glittering lights is for you!