Masquerade Info and Rules

We’re glad you’re interested in participating in the NekoCon Masquerade Cosplay Competition! Here you’ll find important information like what to expect and rules for the contest.

What can I expect when I sign up for NekoCon’s Masquerade?

Friendly and helpful staff, of course! The basics: our staff will help you through signing up, craftsmanship judging (if you wish to have your costume evaluated by our panel of experts!), and coordinating both the Full Dress Rehearsal on Saturday morning and the program itself on Saturday evening.

What are the awards?

Awards will be given for the following: 

  • Best Craftsmanship and Performance in each level (Youth, Novice, Journeyman, and Master) 
  • Overall Best Craftsmanship
  • Overall Best Performance
  • Best in Show 

Judges and Cosplay Staff may wish to add their own special notes for outstanding entrants.

What category am I in?

Here are the descriptions of our categories:

Youth – Any entrant aged 13 years and younger. For safety reasons, children under the age of 8 cannot be allowed on the stage during the Cosplay for any reason, unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Entrants between the ages of 8 and 13 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian backstage who has a valid NekoCon admission badge.

Novice – Any costumer(s) who has won 2 or fewer awards. This is the category you select if you have never cosplayed before, or have not won any contests.

Journeyman – Any costumer(s) who has won 3 – 5 awards.

Master – Any costumer(s) who has won 6 or more awards.

If you have a group, determine who has the highest skill level and use that when registering.

Example 1: You have a group of 4 Novices and 1 Journeyman. You will be entered as Journeyman level.

Example 2: You have 3 Masters and one Novice in your group. You will be entered as Master level.

There’s a Dress Rehearsal? How much of a commitment am I going to have to make?!

Here are the commitments you need to make in order to do the cosplay competition:

  1. Signing up! This is a short process you can do online or on-site. Spots are limited, so we encourage signing up online (more info below)
  2. IF you wish to have your costumes judged for their craftsmanship, you must show up to your assigned craftsmanship judging time. This will be a commitment of approximately 20 minutes total. (information on costumes eligible for craftsman and judging rules below)
  3. Showing up for your assigned Full Dress Rehearsal time. This shouldn’t take too long as long as you are adequately prepared and everyone shows up on time! (rules & info below)
  4. Attending the Masquerade, where you’ll show off your costumes to the con!

How can I sign up?

Due to the stress that convention signups cause, NekoCon will be accepting Pre-Registration for the Cosplay Competition/Masquerade online! Online registration will be limited to the first 25 confirmed entries. Confirmed means they have been contacted by the Cosplay Staff and have replied to this contact. Once 25 entries have been reached, we will post here that Cosplay signup is full. 

Masquerade Applications are now closed!
Please visit the Cosplay Information table at the convention to sign up. For more information please email: [email protected]

On-site at the convention there will be an additional five (5) slots open. This limit will be strictly enforced. Any unused pre-registration slots will be transferred to the At-Con signups.

What do I need for Dress Rehearsal?

There will be a mandatory Full Dress Rehearsal for the Cosplay Saturday morning. This will take place between the hours of 9:00am – 12:00pm in Main Events. Time slots will be given out on a first come-first serve basis at con during check in. At check-in we will be taking roll call for entries, sorting you into groups, giving out your cosplay credentials, and rehearsal time slot on Friday between 10am and 6pm downstairs in front of room 101. We will begin check-in again Saturday morning between 9:00-9:30am for those who don’t make it to the Friday check-in. We will NOT give cosplay badges or rehearsal times to non group members, the individual it belongs to must show up to receive it unless first discussed with the Head of Cosplay before Saturday via email. [email protected]

There are no exceptions. All skits must be performed in their entirety, in full costume, and with all props, and will be reviewed by the Cosplay coordinators. You will be given ample time to work out any necessary additional details with the Tech Crew. You are expected to arrive on time for your rehearsal time slot as there is a lot of information to give out and go over.

Tech Crew will only accept files via USB. We cannot use your personal iTunes/music/media accounts to draw music from.  Make sure you have previewed your sound BEFORE bringing your USB to the convention.  Tech Crew is not responsible for balancing your sound once you give them the USB, they simply put it in and press play at the proper time. We are not responsible for loss of files or USB. Please only have your act’s music file on the USB, and have your file appropriately labeled. No video or picture files will be allowed. Do not email your music. Files should not be ripped from YouTube (we do not want to be sued, thank you).

We cannot guarantee that any special requests for lighting & tech effects will be able to be accommodated.

Failure to attend the Rehearsal, arriving after 9:30am on Saturday to get a time slot, or arriving late for your assigned time slot can and will result in the disqualification from the Masquerade of you and/or your group. If you cannot make the Rehearsal your entire group must talk with the Head of Cosplay before Saturday morning. Please note that if you have NekoCon Staffers on your team make sure that they are not scheduled to work on Saturday as Rehearsal, Costume Craftsmanship Judging, and the Masquerade itself will take up the vast majority of the day. Due to the large number of entrants, we will not be able to accommodate special requests for scheduling.

Rehearsal times are unlikely to change. In the rare event they do, this will be emailed to every contestant and posted in the following locations at the convention: Operations, Info Desk, Registration, and Main Programming.


NekoCon Masquerade Rules

  1. The Head of Cosplay is in charge of the Cosplay. Their word is law and final.

    Do not try to make their job harder than it already is, and follow any instructions without fail. They will not make any unreasonable demands. Their #1 priority is to ensure the safety of the entrants and that the Cosplay Contests go as smoothly as possible.


  2. Please, do not try to bribe, cajole, entice, offer favors, or otherwise influence the judges in your favor. They are mighty oaks that are immune to your wiles. Cosplay staff however will accept your bribes, they like cookies. (Bribing cosplay staff will not affect your judging in any way but you’ll make a staffer happy).


  3. Poor sportsmanship is grounds for disqualification from future NekoCon contests. Be a gracious winner and loser. Additionally, bullying another contestant or cosplay staff member is strictly prohibited. If the contest coordinator finds out that bullying has occurred the bully will be disqualified. Be kind to your fellow contestants.


  4. The MC is a trained professional improvisational actress/actor and has mastered the art of combat sarcasm. Please do not take anything she/he says personally, and do not try to heckle her/him. You will lose, and you just might be escorted out of the Cosplay.


  5. Follow all venue and convention rules and guidelines.


  6. No entries may contain religious, political, insulting or offensive statements. We utilize the following definition of offensive cosplays: cosplays that incite violence, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, ageism, and bigotry. This includes race-facing (e.g. blackface/brownface/yellowface) as well as costumes that replicate or make light of historic or current international or national tragedies (this includes depictions of the novel coronavirus in any way).


  7. Lying to cosplay staff (including cosplay judges) may be grounds for disqualification from future NekoCon contests.


  8. You must have a Convention badge to participate in the Cosplay Contest.


  9. Keeping all these rules in mind, remember, the most important rule: Have fun!

NekoCon Masquerade Performance/Skit Rules:

  1. You must adhere to all General Rules above.


  2. Time limits for each group are as follows:
    1 person = 1 minute
    2-4 people = 2 minutes
    5-8 people = 3 minutes
    Handlers and parents/guardians do not count towards your time limit. For safety reasons, there are to be no more than 8 people on stage at any given time.


  3. While we all do enjoy a good martial arts sequence, we must insist that your act does not include any action that would put yourself or others at risk for injury or harm. This includes brandishing weapons. If your presentation absolutely requires any of these things, you must clear it with the Cosplay coordinators at Rehearsal. Remember, there will probably be fragile equipment on the stage, and if you break it, we’re sending you the bill. We are not responsible for injury or harm at the Masquerade.


  4. On stage props must be assembled before you get on stage, or assembled in less than a minute. Stage props must be stable if standing alone or be held up by a group member. NekoCon Cosplay staff will not be responsible for holding up your props! Everything brought on stage by your group must leave the stage with the group.


  5. We know that there are some risqué costumes out there. We have no problem with these as long as you follow venue and event guidelines.
    Special note: Intentional flashing of any kind will result in the immediate disqualification of you and/or your entire group, and possible removal from the convention.


  6. No foul language please! Usage of any foul or abusive language is ground for instant disqualification and removal from the Cosplay area.


  7. No use of projectiles, glitter, silly string, bubbles, or especially latex balloons….
    Use of latex balloons and gloves are not permitted due to life threatening allergies. This is a disability/accessibility rule. Latex alternatives like silicon or mylar are permitted. You will not be penalized for not including props like latex balloons in your costume. If you have a question about what could be considered dangerous please email the contest staff at: [email protected]
  8. Skits or performances that have won a major award at another competition are not eligible for awards. Failure to disclose a winning skit could result in disqualification from future NekoCon completions. A major award is described as a “best” or “first place” award. Lying to cosplay staff about your skit’s eligibility (including cosplay judges) may be grounds for disqualification from future NekoCon contests.


  9. You must be a registered attendee of NekoCon to participate.


  10. These rules are subject to change at any time with no prior notice. The Head of Cosplay, and a select few officers of NekoCon have the right to reject any skit that they feel breaks the convention or masquerade rules.


What do I need for my costume to be judged for Craftsmanship?

All entrants who wish to compete in the Costume Craftsmanship Judging must first register for the Masquerade as either a skit or a walk-on. Costume Craftsmanship Judging will be on a first come, first served basis at the convention itself. If you wish to have your costume judged for Craftsmanship, you must fill out the Craftsmanship registration form at check-in. Information about where Craftsmanship judging will be done will also be handed out during Rehearsal. If you want your costume to be judged but do not want to walk on stage or perform a skit, enter the Hall Craftsmanship Competition. If you wish to enter both contests, you may, but you must do so with different costumes.


Nekocon Masquerade Craftsmanship Rules:

  1. You will need to register for the Masquerade before you can register for Craftsmanship Judging.  Craftsmanship registration forms will be available at the Masquerade check-in.


  2. You must adhere to all Masquerade Skit Rules and General Rules.


  3. All participants must have reference pictures of their costume character; without proper reference material, the judges cannot assess the accuracy of a costume. Please bring printouts, manga, art books, or any other form of reference material to your assigned Craftsmanship Judging time for the Judges to use to aid them in their task. Genderbent versions of characters are permitted.


    Craftsmanship judging will take place before the Cosplay Masquerade and is the responsibility of the contestant to complete. No time slots will be given, contestants must come register for craftsmanship at Cosplay Contest Central and return during any of our craftsmanship judging hours. The location of the Judging will be in the Cosplay Contest Central in room 101. 


  4. There will be no extension of craftsmanship judging hours to accommodate any masquerade contestant. It is your responsibility to come during craftsmanship judging hours.  No exceptions.


  5. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ENTER A COSTUME THAT HAS WON A MAJOR AWARD AT A DIFFERENT COMPETITION. (“Major award” is defined as a first place award in any category or a ‘best’ i.e. best in show, best weekend, etc)


  6. Craftsmanship is the assessment of the costumer’s skill at making a costume.
    Any costume that consists mostly of bought items will not be considered for craftsmanship judging (ie. buying regular street clothes that require no alterations). Only 20% of your costume may consist of bought items (undergarments, wig, shoes, etc). 80% must be created by you.
    If you commissioned your costume, it will not be considered for craftsmanship judging. You cannot receive credit for another person’s work. Costumes made by another individual can be eligible for judging if the creator is present for craftsmanship judging. Any award won will be presented to the creator, not the model.
    Questions about this should be addressed to [email protected].


  7. Use of latex balloons and gloves are not permitted due to life threatening allergies. This is a disability/accessibility rule. Latex alternatives like silicon or mylar are permitted. You will not be penalized for not including props like latex balloons in your costume. If you have a question about what could be considered dangerous please email the contest staff at: [email protected]
  8. You must be a registered attendee of NekoCon to participate.


  9. Lying to cosplay staff about your costume’s eligibility (including cosplay judges) may be grounds for disqualification from future NekoCon contests.


  10. Judges’ rule is final. If you would like feedback on your costume, you are welcome to come to feedback on Sunday!