Norwescon, Sakura-Con, and Easter Weekend
I keep seeing questions about why Norwescon and Sakura-Con are both scheduled for Easter weekend this year. Here’s my attempt at an answer, with the disclaimer that I’m not speaking officially for Norwescon or Sakura-Con. This is just what I’ve picked up while chatting with people over the past couple years, and what I can verify over the ‘net (using the past convention dates from Wikipedia for Norwescon and Sakura-Con and this table of Easter dates).
Historically, Norwescon has been on Easter weekend for the majority of its existence, and the past 14 years consecutively:
- On Easter Weekend: NWC 1, 11, 14, 17, 19-32
- Near Easter Weekend: NWC 2-10 (and Alternatcon), 12, 15-16, 18
Sakura-Con, which has been in existence for fewer years (13) than Norwescon’s been consistently using Easter weekend (14), spent most of its first decade using weekends other than Easter weekend
, very probably in an attempt not to conflict with Norwescon, as there is a lot of fan crossover between the two conventions. In fact, the first two years of Sakuracon were held at the SeaTac DoubleTree, the same hotel that Norwescon was using at the time (and is still using now).
- On Easter Weekend: SC 10, 12-13
- 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 the change in Sakura-Con’s schedule,
if (as I’m guessing) 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, I’d be willing to bet that after a while, it simply worked out that the best deals it could get for space (claiming space at the downtown Seattle Convention Center) and its fans (it looks like at least one downtown hotel is offering discounted rates for Sakura-Con attendees) 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 a small number of 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 this year, now that the 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.
Whichever con you choose, though (for me, it’s Norwescon), have fun!
While I’m keeping the “not speaking officially” disclaimer up, I’ve received a number of comments from various people on the Norwescon ConCom (Convention Committee) thanking me for this post, and indicating that they’ll be passing it around as an answer to this oft-repeated question. Awesome!
Former Sakura-Con staff member and con chair Isaac Alexander contacted me via Twitter with a few minor corrections to what I wrote:
The Double Tree Inn at South Center is completely different then the Double Tree Sea Tac(which used to be the Red Lion Sea-Tac). The Double Tree Inn at South Center was torn down a couple years ago to make space for the mall expansion.
You were absolutely correct about us not wanting to conflict in the early years with norwes because of the crossover with fans.