Otafest 25th Anniversary

Otafest 2023

May 19 - 21, 2023
Calgary Telus Convention Centre

Otafest 2023

Otafest is Calgary’s volunteer-run, non-profit, all-ages Japanese anime and pop culture festival featuring anime screenings, an exhibitor hall, community panels, cosplay contests, voice actors, concerts, and so much more!

May 19

8:00 – 19:00

Festival Hours
10:00 – 24:00

May 20

8:00 – 19:00*

Festival Hours
10:00 – 24:00

May 21

8:00 – 19:00

Festival Hours
10:00 – 21:00

* We are not selling tickets at the door on May 20th. On May 20th, admissions is open only to advance ticket holders. See here for details.

Special Guests

Each of our special guests adds their own unique flavor to the festival ♥
Check back often and keep an eye on our social media for updates.


Here’s a taste of what’s in store.

Silver Stars Masquerade Ball

Our 25th anniversary keynote event! We’ll dance the night away, share some delightful anecdotes of 25 years’ worth of shenanigans, and fill a time capsule with our dearest wishes for the future!

Not sure how to ballroom dance? We’ll have volunteers on hand to teach the basics. The dress code is cosplay or semi-formal – however you choose to interpret that!

Masks are encouraged; the more grandiose and fancy, the better! We have prizes for best dressed, most marvelous mask, and more. Don’t have a mask? It’s all good! We’ll have some on hand.

Otafest’s Main Events Room (Macleod BCD)

Saturday 8:00 PM – Midnight



Join our musical guests for an unforgettable night of dancing and making new friends! Our concert and dance party features a lineup of musical guests from various genres that’s sure to get you moving.

Plus, it’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded folks who share your passion for music and culture. Dance, make friends, b̸̢͑e̴͑̃ͅ ̴̖͂a̵͔͎̎͘ ̴̱͊̏h̸̺̼̉̈a̴͈̭͌p̴̩̊̿p̶̥͑̈́y̶̬̌ ̷͍͖́̇h̷̡͉͛û̴̲̫͊m̷̠̤͑a̵̫̋̋ͅn̴̢̋͜.

Otafest’s Main Events Room (Macleod BCD)

Friday 6:30 PM – 11:00 PM

Maid & Butler Café

Are you feeling hungry and in need of some company? Reserve your seat at the Maid and Butler Café and let our charming staff take care of you. Our kawaii maids and kakkoii butlers are here to ensure that you’re well taken care of. After the food service they’ll take to the dance floor for an enchanting performance.

Experience the unique and captivating entertainment, indulge in delicious treats, and participate in exciting games – all in one place. And at the end of the event, commemorate your time with us by taking home an exclusive 2023 souvenir and a photo of you with our lovely maids and butlers in exchange for a donation to this year’s charity.

Please note the café requires a separately purchased ticket.

Idol Festival

Looking for an unforgettable outdoor concert experience? Grab your penlights and make some noise, the Idol Festival is back!

Featuring a variety of idol cover groups, this outdoor musical event promises to be a highlight of the festival. Watch these talented performers dance their hearts out, and join the crowd as we make Ota-History! With a lively and enthusiastic atmosphere, you’re sure to have a blast.

Outdoor Stage (Stephen Ave)

Friday – Time TBA

The Ota Factor

Are you a fan of incredible vocal performances? Do you love watching talented singers compete for glory and recognition? The Ota Factor is where the community’s best vocalists come together to showcase their skills and compete for top honors! This exciting event is the perfect opportunity to enjoy amazing live music and support local performers who are ready to give their best performance and sing their hearts out.

Preliminaries: Location TBA
Finals: Otafest’s Main Events Room (Macleod BCD)

Times TBA

Photo Ops

Our venue and the areas surrounding it make for some great backdrops for your cosplay photos! From the rooftop patio to our balloon installations, there are plenty of unique photo opportunities for you to capture and share with your friends and fellow fans.

The various types of architecture around the venue offer a diverse range of locations for you to take unforgettable photos. These locations and backdrops are a fantastic way to showcase your cosplay and capture the memories of your festival experience.

Exhibitor Hall

Our Exhibitor Hall brings local stores, industry, and travelling vendors into one convenient location for you to find official figures, manga, plushies, art, games, media, and posters. Artist Alley is populated by painters, illustrators, cosplay designers, and more, all ranging from hobbyists to professionals! Some artists may also take commission requests for custom pieces.

This is also where you’ll find our guests during their autograph time slots, and some of our generous, lovely sponsors!

Exhibitor Hall

Friday 10:00 – 7:00 | Saturday 10:00 – 7:00 | Sunday 10:00 – 5:00

Sketch Drive

Sketch Drive

Have you ever wanted to know how you would look as a cat? a ninja? a ninja cat? Do you wonder what you and your bestie would look like as anime characters or fantasize about finally getting a picture of your D&D character to show off at the next session? Sketch Drive, one of Otafest’s longest-running traditions (and best kept secrets) is where these ideas come to life!

Choose your favorite style from our team of talented artists and get your dream portrait sketched for a good cause. Half the cost of the sketch will go directly to the artist, with the rest going to Otafest’s chosen charity, MEOW Foundation, so you’re supporting a local artist and giving back to the community with a single purchase!

Just outside the Exhibitor Hall (in the Pre-Function Space)

Friday 9:00 – 7:00 | Saturday 9:00 – 7:00 | Sunday 9:00 – 5:00

Community Corner

Otafest’s Community Corner is a vibrant space that provides a platform for conventions, non-profits, and groups to showcase and share their passion projects and works with the wider community. As a collaborative and inclusive space, this is where you can discover something new, exciting, and local. By supporting and promoting the work of our community, we can build a stronger, more connected, and vibrant society.

Just outside the Exhibitor Hall (in the Pre-Function Space)

Friday 9:00 – 7:00 | Saturday 9:00 – 7:00 | Sunday 9:00 – 5:00

Community Corner

Cosplay HQ, Repair Station, & Contests

Cosplayers deserve to feel comfortable and confident in their costumes. Our Cosplay Repair Station (sponsored by The Costume Shoppe) is fully stocked with everything you need to fix unexpected malfunctions, so you can enjoy the festivities without worrying about your outfit falling apart.

Take a break and relax in our cosplay lounge and photography area. With seating and a variety of settings, it’s the perfect spot to unwind and take some amazing photos of your cosplay. The room also houses our Cosplay Contest HQ, where you can ask questions about a variety of contests for cosplayers of all skill levels.

Cosplay HQ (Marriott SunAlta Room)


The Otafest Arcade hosts different gaming events and spaces throughout the festival. In the main gaming hall, you will find our competitive gaming tournaments and drop-in events, our Open Arcade featuring casual gaming, the Community Lounge where you can chat with local streaming community members, and our Mobile Corner where you can play the latest mobile and digital card games!

We look forward to seeing you this year at Otafest Arcade. Let’s play!

Otafest Arcade (TCC Macleod A)

Friday 10:00 – 8:00 | Saturday 10:00 – 8:00 | Sunday 10:00 – 6:00

Pokémon League

For the last decade, the Otafest Pokémon League has provided a safe space for Pokémon fans to play against other fans and challenge the League for real-life badges and a chance at being crowned a Champion. We offer all sorts of Pokémon related activities and games for all ages with a variety of prizes!

Not only that, but Pokémon-related panels, mini games, events, a great community to join, and more also await you at the League!

Pokémon League (Marriott Kensington Room)

Friday 10:00 – 7:00 | Saturday 10:00 – 7:00 | Sunday 10:00 – 6:00

Gunpla Hangar

Are you a fan of giant robots? Do you like to build model kits? Then come on down to the Otafest Gunpla Hangar in the Acadia Room of the Marriott. Feel free to come in and build an experience kit, a kit you picked up on the show floor, take in the gunpla and Gundam related panels, or just hang out and chat with fellow Gunpla builders and Gundam fans.

We’re also excited to host the Gunpla Hangar Showcase contest again this year!

Gunpla Hangar (Marriott Acadia & Mount Royal Rooms)

Friday 10:00 – 8:00 | Saturday 10:00 – 8:00 | Sunday 10:00 – 7:00

Manga Library

Need a break from all the hustle & bustle of the festival? Maybe you just want to find a place to curl up with a good book? Well you’re in luck. The Otafest Manga library is a comfy place for you to relax in a quiet space and pick up a book from our collection of manga and light novels.

Our collection is comprised of books generously donated by publisher sponsors, Otafest staff & volunteers, and members of our wonderful community.

Manga Library (TCC Ideation 2)

Friday 10:00 – 8:00 | Saturday 10:00 – 8:00 | Sunday 10:00 – 7:00

Community Panels

Our community hosted panels are great socialization events that pair you with knowledgeable hosts, place you as a contestant in game shows, or have you laughing a fit while interacting with your fellow attendees. We have a such variety of content that you’ll always have something to do!

Moreover, it’s an eye-opening experience to see how others do it! Just by attending, you can help nurture real practical skills in presentation, communication, and a hands-on approach to learning from the hosts! It might even spur inspiration for you to host a panel for next year!

Schedule will be available in April – May.


AMV Contest & Showings

Whether you enjoy music videos playing all day, or take a break from the rush of the festival, all are welcome to enjoy the unique entertainment offered in our AMV room.

Fancy yourself an AMV Connoisseur? Pick up a ballot and take your seat in the AMV contest! Your opinion matters here as everyone votes on their favorite AMV from a full spectrum of entertaining edits from talented editors from all over.

AMV Room (TCC Macleod E1)
Contest: Otafest’s Main Events Room (Macleod BCD)

All weekend long!

Anime Showings

An anime festival obviously needs anime! We have a wide range of anime series, from classic favorites to the latest releases, that are screened throughout the weekend. Our screening rooms are equipped with technology to provide a viewing experience for attendees. Okay, but for real, our anime showings provide a great opportunity for fans to connect with each other over their shared love of anime and to discover new series that they may have missed.

If your tastes are a bit more chaotic, find the WTF showing block on the schedule. It’s weird, it’s 18+, there’s a bar. Need we say more?

Whether you’re a seasoned anime fan or just starting to explore the world of anime, our anime showings have something for everyone.

Autographs & Guest Panels

In every challenging, inspirational, or cherished moment that anime has shown, there’s a person behind that character who made it possible.

Otafest strives to bring the voices behind these priceless moments straight to you. Not only that, we also bring guests involved in cosplay, speakers on diversity and inclusion, industry professionals, musical artists, live performers, virtual performers, and design experts to entertain, educate, and just hang out!

Meet them, greet them, exchange a story, and grab a precious autograph or picture to take home as a memorabilia that will remain with you for a long time!

Charity Auction

This is the perfect opportunity to bid on items donated by the community, Otafest’s sponsors, and a variety of other sources. We’ll even have some auction-exclusive official Otafest paraphernalia. Whether you’re a serious collector or just looking for a fun souvenir, the charity auction is where you can find some truly unique lots.

Otafest is proud to support MEOW Foundation as this year’s charity partner. Your auction bids will directly help support their important work. With all auction proceeds donated directly to MEOW Foundation, you can bid with confidence knowing that you’re making a positive impact in the community. Come out, bid on some incredible items, and help us support this fantastic cause!

Schedule will be available in April – May.

A giant Bulbasaur plush among other books and model kits on a table.


Japanese CONvenience store (コンビニ, “konbini”) meets CONvention! The doors are open and the fresh scent of melonpan is in the air! It’s your one-stop shop for specialty Japanese snacks, baked goods and drinks.

They say that happiness begins with a smile; at the Otafest CONbini, we offer great service, warm greetings, and good food which is a hug for your soul.

Limited quantities only so visit the Otafest CONbini early to recharge!

CONbini (TCC Telus 110)

Friday 11:00 – 6:00 | Saturday 11:00 – 6:00 | Sunday 11:00 until sold out!

How It's Made: Cosplay Edition

How It’s Made is an event that brings the community together by sharing our knowledge and experiences in cosplay and related crafts. The event is set up just like a science fair: presenters display cosplay pieces or equipment that they have made or used, educating visitors about the processes involved. It’s all about building up the cosplay community in Calgary!

Sunday – Time TBA

… and a whole lot more!


The Marriott Hotel

Just an elevator ride away from Otafest, you can book your stay at the Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel with special rates for Otafest attendees!

Connected directly to the Telus Convention Centre and boasting Calgary’s largest standard guestroom available with a single king or two double beds and large windows, the Marriott’s rooms feature beautifully appointed furniture and hypoallergenic Duvets, fitness center, pool access, and wireless internet.

Get Involved

We need your help. Otafest relies on the creative contributions of the community to make each festival one to remember. Whether you’re a cosplayer, an artist, wanting to host a panel, or willing to lend a hand, we offer various opportunities to involve yourself in the festival beyond simply attending!


Otafest would be impossible without the help of our wonderful volunteers. We offer a wide range of positions across all departments, food, and scheduling that accommodates you as best as possible.

Our volunteers also usually leave with some newly formed friendships! Join the Otafam and we’ll do our best to keep you smiling throughout the whole weekend.

A group of volunteers sit around a table, playing the card game Hanabi
Two panelists stand in front of a room full of people


The best way to embrace your passion is to share it. Most of Otafest’s programming is provided by community members like you who have creative ideas to present to their peers.

Whether you’re looking to host a presentation, workshop, tutorial, game show, forum, or anything else, we’ll be your platform.

With admission discounts available for successful candidates, we’d love to see your creativity in action!


Otafest is home to a healthy variety of contests!

Whether you want to compete vocally, showcase your AMV skills, or take part in one of our many varieties of cosplay events, one of our events is sure to suit you!

Three cosplayers stand, showing off their awards certificates and ribbons.


Are you are an artist or hobbyist looking for an outlet to sell your fan-made work? Maybe you’re an established business wanting to expand your customer base. Whatever the case may be, our Exhibitor Hall brings thousands of patrons right to you for easy and effective exposure to your products.

Also, if you’re an emerging or experienced artist and want to join our mission to give back to the community, Sketch Drive offers a unique opportunity to hone your talents for a good cause.


Otafest hosts a live charity auction each year and we’re always looking for items to sell. We’re always looking for donated items to build up our sale inventory. Proceeds go directly to charity, so you can clear out your closet and storage while supporting a great cause.

If you’ve got some extra manga laying around, consider donating to our manga library! An open, calm space at Otafest where you can sit down with a good novel and take a break from the hustle and bustle.

A giant Bulbasaur plush among other books and model kits on a table.

Charitable Initiatives

Otafest welcomes MEOW Foundation as our 2023 Charity Partner!

MEOW Foundation is a cageless rescue with a no-kill mandate. MEOW has assisted over 40,000 feline lives and counting since their inception. MEOW’s core programs include rescue and adoption, trap neuter return, spay neuter assistance, and a cat food assistance program. MEOW also offers cat care information and spay/neuter education to the public to promote responsible pet ownership and reduce the pet overpopulation problem. MEOW helps over 2,500 cats and kittens each year.

The rescue is well known for its expertise in cat behavior and evidence-based humane programs to reduce cat overpopulation. MEOW was also the first Calgary-based animal welfare organization to promote the adoption instead of euthanization of cats with special needs.

Many Otafest staff members are cat owners and MEOW’s guiding principles of Respect, Standard of Care, Cats & People, and Collaboration strongly align with our own core values. We support the MEOW Foundation in its mission of championing the well-being of cats through humane programs, advocacy, and education.

Support MEOW Foundation by participating in our fundraising initiatives such as:

  • 2023 Angel Passes
  • Otafest Charity Auction
  • Maid & Butler Café Polaroid Prints
  • Gunpla Hangar Events
  • Sketch Drive Commissions
  • Donation boxes around the festival.

Remember that if we reach our goal of $10,000, our staff will participate in fun (and sometimes embarrassing) games at the closing ceremonies. Please help us reach this fundraising goal in support of the MEOW Foundation, and remember to stop by the closing ceremonies!

Meow Foundation


We would like to thank all of our sponsors for their generous contributions to our event ♥

Event Partners

Calgary Telus Convention Centre
Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel
Wi-Com Solutions
Our Official Radio Provider

Funding Partners

Alberta Foundation for the Arts