Norwescon, Sakura-Con, and Easter Weekend

Norwescon Executive TeamBlog, Executive Team, Norwescon 36

We’re often asked why Norwescon and Sakura-Con are both scheduled for Easter weekend each year. Both are big geek-friendly events, and while there’s a slightly different focus (we have a literary foundation but encompass virtually all aspects of fandom, including anime, while Sakura-Con focuses on anime and Japanese culture), there are many who would prefer to attend both, rather than having to either split time between the two or choose one over the other.

Here’s an overview of the history of the two conventions, based on conversations with current and former Norwescon and Sakura-Con organizing committee members, and some ‘net-based verification (using the past convention dates from Wikipedia for Norwescon and Sakura-Con and this table of Easter dates).

Norwescon got its start in 1978 (for more on Norwescon’s history, see this page). Historically, Norwescon has been on Easter weekend for the majority of its existence, and the past 18 years consecutively:

  • On Easter Weekend: NWC 1, 11, 14, 17, 19-current
  • Near Easter Weekend: NWC 2-10 (and Alternacon), 12, 15-16, 18

Sakura-Con is 20 years younger than Norwescon (for more on Sakura-Con’s history, see this page) — and actually got its start when anime fans at Norwescon, hungry for more anime-centric programming than Norwescon could provide, decided to start their own convention. During most of the first decade of Sakura-Con’s existence, Sakura-Con used weekends other than Easter weekend specifically in an attempt to not conflict with Norwescon, due to the amount of fan crossover between the two conventions.

  • On Easter Weekend: SC 10, 12-current
  • Near Easter Weekend: SC 1-9, 11

So, in a sense, Norwescon does have the elementary schoolyard ability to stick its tongue out at Sakura-Con and stamp its feet, saying, “We were here first!” But that would be silly.

So why did Sakura-Con move to Easter weekend, since they at first attempted to work around Norwescon’s established schedule?

Simply put, it’s business. Easter weekend isn’t one of the big travel holidays, and conventions are more able to negotiate better usage rates (in everything from space rental fees to discounted room rates). It’s a win-win for both the convention and the hotel: the convention gets to use the hotel for as little money as realistically possible; the hotel gets a huge amount of business on an otherwise traditionally slow weekend.

So, as Sakura-Con grew in popularity, and needed to expand to find more and more space, it simply worked out that the best deals it could get for space (claiming space at the downtown Seattle Convention Center) and its fans (at the downtown hotels) were going to be on Easter weekend.

So yes, at times, it can be a little frustrating to have two major local conventions with a fair amount of cross-pollination in their fanbase going on over the same weekend. However, it’s a friendly competition, and there are always some fans who do their best to bounce between both cons, or at least stop by the other convention once they’ve established a “home base” at one. Doing so is even easier than ever now, since Seattle’s Central Link light rail is in operation: from Norwescon, just take a shuttle from the DoubleTree to the airport, hop the Link downtown, and you can probably be at the Washington State Convention Center and in the midst of Sakura-Con in right about an hour.

The most important part, though: Whether you settle in at Norwescon, Sakura-Con, or bounce back and forth between the two, have fun!

Our thanks to Norwescon ConCom member Michael Hanscom for the original version of this post, which appeared on his website in 2010, to former Sakura-Con staff member and chair Isaac Alexander for his contributions to the original post, and to the many geeks and fen of all flavors who have made both conventions (and the many other Seattle-area conventions) so successful.