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  • Writer's pictureTeam Acacia

Ten Things Not to Miss at FAN EXPO Chicago

Celebrity Meet-and-Greets Are Just The Beginning: Tattoos, Shopping, Artists, A Japanese Maid Café, After Hours Events, and More Await


Chicago, Illinois (July 31, 2023) – Attending FAN EXPO Chicago, the region’s longest-running comic and pop culture convention, may seem overwhelming for the first-time guest. With so much to see and do over the four-day Expo, we’ve compiled some of the top highlights to help fans plan their visit to this year’s show, running August 10 - 13, 2023 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.


Meet Your Favorite Celebrities

During the SAG-AFTRA strike, celebrity guests are still able to attend conventions, meet fans, and participate in autograph sessions and photo ops - and there’s no better place to meet your favorite stars than at FAN EXPO Chicago. This year’s all-star roster includes some of the biggest pop culture icons, including Susan Sarandon’s first-ever appearance at a convention; Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Tom Wilson; Christie Brinkley, Beverly D’Angelo, Chevy Chase, Anthony Michael Hall, and Randy Quaid; Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, and Lou Diamond Phillips. Human rights champion Mira Sorvino, pioneering motion capture performer Andy Serkis, fan favorite Felicia Day, classic TV star Henry Winkler, legendary director Sam Raimi, and sci-fi icons Brent Spiner, Katee Sackhoff, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Todd Stashwick, and more are set to meet and greet fans, chatting over autograph and photo opportunities! See the full list of celebrity guests and schedules and plan your visit. Note that during the strike, if you want a photo from a specific film or TV show autographed, plan to bring it with you - celebrities will only be providing their headshots in the autograph sessions.


I Know That Voice…

Meet the people behind some of the most popular animated characters in pop culture at FAN EXPO Chicago. From classic films to the television shows and Anime of today, we’re welcoming voice actors including Tara Strong, Jodi Benson, Shameik Moore, Dante Basco, Charles Martinet, Justin Briner, and more. You’ve heard them…now meet them in person! The full roster of voice actors is available online.

300,000+ Square Feet of Shopping

Shop hundreds of retailers from all over to make your experience unforgettable. From finding that rare comic book, stunning original artwork, graphic novels, memorabilia, games, toys, or t-shirts – you'll find it all here.

Play At An Authentic Japanese Arcade

Get your game on at the Japanese Arcade, featuring the best Japanese-style arcade machines at this brand new exhibit! Players will get the chance to play anime-based games they’ve never tried before - all for free at the show.

Get Inked

Looking for the ultimate, one-of-a-kind tattoo? Want an amazing story of how you got it? Wear your fandom on your sleeve (literally) and check out Tattoo Alley, powered by Ink Fusion Empire. 16 talented, licensed artists will be inking up fans all weekend, immortalizing fandoms forever. Book your appointment with an artist now, and start thinking about your design!


A Legacy of Comic Creators

FAN EXPO Chicago honors its 51-year legacy as the longest-running comic convention in the Midwest, putting comic creators front and center. This year, featured guests include Frank Miller (Batman: Year One, Daredevil, Sin City), celebrating the 25th anniversary of his iconic series 300 with a special panel including Frank Cho and Ariel Diaz, who each created their own variants for a special anniversary re-release of 300 #1. This year also sees a rare appearance by Ariel Olivetti; legendary artists Steve McNiven and Klaus Johnson; Chris Claremont (co-creator of iconic X-Men characters including Rogue, Gambit, Mystique, Kitty Pryde, and more); Donny Cates (Vanish, Thor, Hulk); Tim Jacobus (Goosebumps); and Joshua Cassara (X-Men, Wolverine); Jae Lee (Seven Sons); Alan Quah (Gears of War), Björn Barends (Spawn), and more than 30 other artists at the cutting edge of their industry in the show’s hallmark Artist Alley.

For the Anime Fan

When you’re done at the Japanese Arcade, check out the Anime and Manga-themed cosplay meetups for fans of Demon Slayer, My Hero Academia, and more all weekend long, or attend FAN EXPO Chicago’s Anime sessions featuring panels, trivia, screenings, and cosplay workshops! Guests can even experience an authentic Akihabara-style Maid Café presentation just like the ones in Japan - reserve your Maid Café seat now, including a kawaii meet and greet, a stage performance, games, and more.

From Haunted Graveyards to Improv Shows

FAN EXPO Chicago panels provide chills, thrills, and skills throughout the four-day event. Explore Chicago’s historic and haunted graveyards, hosted by paranormal podcasters Patrick Harrington and Rebecca Rivers (Ghostly Podcast) and Scott Larson (Visitations); learn how to create the most epic cosplay ever with sewing classes, body positivity seminars, and sword fighting lessons; and see a special one-night-only performance of improvised Star Trek parody STARSHIP EDSEL from Chicago’s Otherworld Theatre Company.


Walk the Cosplay Red Carpet

One of the great joys of FAN EXPO Chicago is bringing fans together to celebrate the community of fandom, and nowhere is that more evident than on the Cosplay Red Carpet! Wear your best costume and walk the carpet while your friends and fellow fans cheer you on and snap pics - or just watch the incredibly talented cosplay creators show off their wardrobe!

FAN EXPO After Dark

The fun doesn’t stop when the show floor closes! After-hours programs keep the fun going late into the night with events including a special Rocky Horror Picture BINGO Show complete with costumes and prizes; a Drink ‘N Draw hosted by Emmy-winning cartoonist Joe Wos; fantasy and sci-fi escape rooms; and K-Pop Night! Plan your evenings with the official After-Hours events schedule.


FAN EXPO Chicago runs August 10 - 13, 2023 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. Show hours are Thursday 4 - 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tickets start at $27; 4-day passes and VIP packages also available at https://fanexpohq.com/fanexpochicago/buy-tickets/. More information and updates can be found at https://fanexpohq.com/fanexpochicago/.


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