What is a Masquerade?

Ever since there have been science fiction conventions, fans have loved to dress up, either as their favorite characters, or in elegant costumes of their own design. It was a natural progression for conventions to institute prizes for the best costume, and that in turn has led to the tradition of the Masquerade.

These days the Masquerade is one of the prime attractions at a Worldcon, rivaled only by the Hugo Award Ceremony. It is essentially a catwalk show in which costumers of all levels and abilities show off their skills and win prizes. Worldcon members are welcome to participate, either by producing costumes of their own or by joining the audience to watch the show. The pictures on this page, all taken from past Worldcons, will give you some idea of what to expect.

By the way, don't worry that you have to be up to this sort of standard. When showing photos we obviously like to feature the very best, but there are several levels of competition so even if you are only a beginner (or a child) you stand a chance of winning a prize.

Still have questions? No problem - we've put together a page of frequently asked questions about the Masquerade which should help.

About the Show

The Worldcon 76 Masquerade will be held on Saturday, August 18, 2018 in the Grand ballroom of the San Jose Convention Center. We currently expect the Masquerade to start at 8 pm in line with most recent Worldcons. We are particularly delighted to announce that the Master of Ceremony for the Masquerade will be Hugo Award winner Chris Garcia.

How to Participate

If you are thinking about participating, please start by reading our Masquerade Rules. The Rules include an introduction from our Masquerade Director, along with information on divisional placement, entry rules and useful hints and suggestions.

To participate in the Masquerade you will then need to register with the Masquerade Directors. You can do this online. While advance registration is not required to enter the competition, we strongly urge anyone considering entering to do so, so that our staff and crew can show off your entry to best advantage. Once you have registered, you can return and update your entry details whenever you want. (Online entry will be available until Tuesday, August 14. After this point you will able to enter at the Masquerade Registration desk at the convention, if we still have space available in the show). When you arrive at the convention, you must check in at the desk to confirm your entry details and make an appointment for rehearsal.

On Friday and Saturday we will have the technical rehearsals, so you will get a chance to test out your presentation on the stage and talk to our tech team. Bear in mind that there will be a lot of entries so you won't get a lot of time; be sure to practice the basics of what you want to do before you arrive for your rehearsal.

Getting in Touch

If you need to reach or Masquerade Director for anything relating to the Masquerade, you can contact them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Hall Costumes

Does going up on stage in front of a crowd of 2,000 adoring fans worry you? OK, we can see that it might be a bit intimidating. But we still want you to bring your costume(s) to Worldcon 76 in San Jose. Wear it (them?) during the day as you wander round the convention. Some of our staff will be prowling the halls incognito ready to give prizes to the best-dressed fans that they see. We call these "hall costume prizes", and we want you to win one.


Worldcon Masquerades always attract hordes of people with cameras. If you class yourself as a serious photographer we will be providing a special area with a proper backdrop and lights where you can get good shots of the contestants after they leave the stage. You may need to sign up in advance for this because space is limited. Look out for announcements much nearer to the convention.

For everyone else, happy snapping, but please remember to not use flash during the show and if photographing costumes in the hallway not everyone enjoys being photographed so ask first, OK?


And don’t forget – one of the best ways to participate in the production of the Masquerade is to volunteer! We can’t do it without you – and we’ll need help for all aspects of the Masquerade. Want to see everything up close and personal? We can use your help in the Green Room. Want to be in the middle of the action? Become part of the stage crew for the evening, wearing black, being by the stage and insuring the safety of our Entrants. Want to document the costumes in photos? We’ll have a fan photo area. Want to do more? Write to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we’ll chat.

More about Costuming


If you would like to learn more about costuming, and perhaps pick up a few tips before starting on your own costume, you may find the following web sites useful:

Photograph Credits

Photos Coming Soon!