5 Ways You Can See Dragon Con for Free

Take Dragon Con for a test drive with these budget-friendly excursions.

Cosplayers Dressed as Leaf Creatures

Cosplayers Dressed as Leaf Creatures

Dragon Con parade participants dressed as scary leaf creatures.

Photo by: Jessica Yonker

Jessica Yonker

If you know, you know. Myself and thousands of other comic book fans, gamers and pop culture addicts have been preparing for Dragon Con – a five-day, multigenre convention that draws 85,000 people to Atlanta, Georgia, every Labor Day weekend – since last year’s con ended.

But if you’re still on the fence, you can still participate without committing to the full madness. And without spending a dime.

Sora Riku Kingdom Hearts Dragon Con

Kingdom Hearts Characters at Dragon Con 2017

Two people cosplay as Riku and Sora from the video game Kingdom Hearts at Dragon Con 2017.

Photo by: Jessica Yonker

Jessica Yonker

Take to the Streets

Perhaps the easiest way to experience Dragon Con is by putting on your most dependable pair of shoes and walking it. The convention takes place in five hotels in downtown Atlanta, and though access to the hotels is restricted to those with badges, there’s nothing stopping you from wandering the streets and area parks (we recommend Centennial Olympic Park for scenic views of the Ferris wheel). Stay alert: Impromptu dance parties and sidewalk lightsaber battles can and will occur.

Wolverine Car and Cosplay at Dragon Con 2017

Wolverine Car and Cosplay at Dragon Con 2017

A cosplayer dressed as Wolverine waves from a matching vehicle during the Dragon Con 2017 parade.

Photo by: Jessica Yonker

Jessica Yonker

The Parade

You might want to set your alarm for this one. Saturday, Sept. 1 at 10 a.m., thousands will flock to the annual Dragon Con Parade. The parade route stretches about a mile south down Peachtree Street, starting at Linden Ave. and ending at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. The whole city is invited to the free event, so get there early to get a good spot.

Photos: Dragon Con Parade 2017

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Shaggy and Scooby are naturally a little on edge around the Witch Doctor. Every year on Labor Day weekend thousands, including Shaggy and Scooby, descend on Atlanta for the pop culture extravaganza of cosplay, panel discussions, a parade down Peachtree Street and the fun that is Dragon Con.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

"Look Right Here"

There's no such thing as aliens.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Mad Max Rides Again

Hold on for dear life.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

A Stormtrooper Dance-Off

This is what hip-hop pioneers Run-D.M.C. would look like in the Galactic Empire. Caution: This group makes frequent stops for dance parties.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

The Man Himself

It's only fitting that Marvel comic book legend Stan Lee served as the parade's grand marshal.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker


Just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, hitching a ride on the roof of a car.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

We Like to Party

We couldn't help but hum a certain theme park tune when we saw this parade participant ride by.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Hogwarts' Scariest Professor

Severus Snape cast a spell on the crowd.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Everybody Walk the Dinosaur

We didn't see this dino in Jurassic Park.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

The Sith Lord

You can almost hear Darth Vader's theme through this picture.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

The World Could Always Use More Heroes

D.Va and Tracer take some time off their watch to have fun.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

The Carpet of Legend

Dragon Con regulars will instantly recognize this funky pattern. It belongs to the official host of Dragon Con, the Marriott Marquis's famous carpet. The carpet, designed by Couristan Inc., has served as the inspiration for so many costumes that it has a dedicated parade group. Much to the dismay of Dragon Con attendees, the host hotel recently changed the carpet. Rumor has it scraps of the carpet sell for a pretty penny on eBay.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Get Off Our Lawn!

Dragon Con seniors send out a warning to their junior attendees.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Knight Rider

We thank them for keeping the Dragon Con kingdom safe.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

The Weather Goddess

Storm from the X-Men made sure the weather was clear for the Dragon Con parade.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

A federal judge may have dimissed Pastafarianism as a real religion, but worshippers of "His Flying Noodliness" know the truth.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

"Game of Thrones" Granny

Olenna Tyrell really wants Cersei to know who did it.

Photo By: Jordan Lawson

Cheer Squad

I think we know who these Star Wars Stormtrooper cheerleaders are rooting for.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Gone Zombie Huntin'

There will be no zombies on this Resident Evil Umbrella Corp troop's watch.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Well, Except for This One

No Travel Channel photographers were contaminated in the making of this photo gallery.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Taco Deadpool

We saw a lot of Deadpool costumes at Dragon Con, but this "culinary" take was one of our favorites.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

For Sparta!

Spartan warriors never back down.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

501st Legion Reporting

Keeping the order is no easy task at Dragon Con.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Back in Black

Scary, sleek and stylish.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Princess of the Amazons

Wonder Woman took a break from defending the world to stroll through the Dragon Con parade.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Wolverine Waves a Claw

Please use extreme caution when high-fiving mutants.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Netherworld Haunted House

This eerie float hails from Netherworld Haunted House, a top-rated Halloween attraction located just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. It's one of our personal favorites.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Netherworld Creatures

This Netherworld Haunted House leaf creature's fanged grin is equal parts charming and horrifying.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Clown Fever

If you're planning to visit Mr. Gendel's 3D Funhouse of Horrors this fall, you better get over your fear of clowns.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

"Battlestar Galactica" Lieutenant Starbuck

Kara "Starbuck" Thrace (complete with Viper ship) leads on the Colonial Fleet.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Stay Schwifty

Morty escorts his uncle Rick on another adventure (it's definitely a hunt for Szechuan sauce).

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

The Addams Family

Gomez sure is a lucky man. *clap* *clap*

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

The Grand Finale

No parade is complete without a visit from Santa Claus — in this case, the not-so-jolly Robot Santa Claus from Futurama.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Gem Life

Steven Universe and Garnet are off on another adventure.

Photo By: Jessica Yonker

Sunset from the revolving bar/cafe known as The Polaris in Atlanta

Sunset from the revolving bar/cafe known as The Polaris in Atlanta

The Polaris first opened in 1967 and then was remodeled and relaunched in 2014. It is the crowning glory of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

Photo by: Hyatt Regency Atlanta

Hyatt Regency Atlanta

At Dinner

Atlanta’s many fine restaurants won’t be left out. Make a reservation, grab an open seat at the bar or dance the night away while you wait for a table (we’re looking at you, Tin Lizzy's). Expect to see everyone from the guests to the servers in costume. Trust us, there’s nothing quite like the experience of Wonder Woman shaking up your margarita.

Dragon Con Attendee Dressed as DJ Deadmau5

Dragon Con Attendee Dressed as DJ Deadmau5

A Dragon Con 2017 attendee wearing a red Deadmau5 helmet.

Photo by: Jessica Yonker

Jessica Yonker

Peachtree Center

For primo people-watching head to Peachtree Center, a 2.3 million square foot mixed-use development in the heart of downtown. Do some shopping alongside hordes of White Walkers or grab lunch in the food court – we bet if you ask nicely Batman will let you sit next to him.

Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium

Dive inside the Georgia Aquarium and discover more than 10 million gallons of water, where tens of thousands of animals — including 500 species from around the world — call home. Get up-close and personal with whale sharks, beluga whales, penguins, dolphins, sea otters and other marine life.

Photo by: Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium

The Aquarium

Put on your best Poseidon costume. Every year, Georgia Aquarium open its doors to Dragon Con attendees, and you can get in on the fun without a badge. This one isn’t free, but it’s a great value for what you get: after-hours admission to one of the world’s largest aquariums and all its exhibits, an official costume contest plus the chance to mingle over food and drinks. It’s the perfect bite of Dragon Con. Oh, and did we mention Georgia Aquarium just got a puffin exhibit?

The deep sea adventure starts Saturday, Sept. 1 from 7–11 p.m. Buy your tickets now before they sell out!

If you fall in love with the pop culture fest, you can pre-order your Dragon Con membership for next summer on site this weekend. Or if you can’t wait that long, single-day tickets are available for each day of the fest at the Sheraton.

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