With all of the events going on each week in NJ, it can be hard to decide where to go and what to do. As we look ahead to 2016, we’ve come up with some suggestions for the best NJ conventions and fan expos happening all year round. The events come in many flavors, appealing to families of all shapes and sizes, with plenty of variety to match each interest. Take a look at our list of the Top 10 NJ Conventions to Attend in 2016:
Discover the Dinosaurs: January 1-3, 22–24 – Multiple Venues
Start your New Year off with something fun for both you and the kids; Discover the Dinosaurs is great for the entire family. This hands-on exhibit features tons of cool props, moving dinosaurs, and realistic scenes that will keep you entertained and active all day long. Kids will have a blast while learning about the prehistoric era, and parents can have fun alongside them. The exhibit is first held at the Meadowlands Exhibition Center in Secaucus from January 1 through the 3, before moving to the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset from January 22 until the 24. Discover the Dinosaurs will also return to the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison next year, though specific dates have not yet been announced.
Heroes & Villains Fan Fest: July 2 and 3 – Meadowlands Exposition Center
Comic book-based television shows and movies are dominating our screens today, so it’s no surprise that events like the Heroes & Villains Fan Fest have become insanely popular. Featuring guests from Arrow, Gotham, The Flash, Guardians of the Galaxy, and many more, the festival is anticipating huge crowds to come take part in the two-day event being held at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus on July 2 and 3. (Note: The original January dates were rescheduled due to Snowstorm Jonas.)
International Great Beer Expo: February 6 — Meadowlands Exposition Center
The 6th annual Great Beer Expo finds its way to Secaucus in February to provide New Jerseyans the opportunity to sample over 150 various types of beer from over 80 different brewers around the world. The exposition “offers beer aficionados, beer lovers, and the casual beer drinker the opportunity to speak to company representatives and the brewers responsible for creating some of the world’s most popular and award-winning brews.” The event is broken up into two 3.5 hour sessions, and the only thing attendees will have to pay for is an entrance ticket. (Tickets are available online now via the official website.)
Super Pet Expo: February 5-7 — New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center
This pet-lover’s dream will be coming to the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison from February 5-7 for an entire weekend filled with adorable animals, excitement, and “edutainment.” The 2016 Super Pet Expo is said to feature over 150 local and national exhibitors, pet adoption opportunities, chances to play with the attending pets, and educational teachings on various pets and pet products. Pets are, of course, welcome—as long as they are kept on leashes.
East Coast Comicon: April 16 and 17 – Meadowlands Exposition Center
The East Coast Comicon is headed to the Meadowlands Exposition Center for two days of comics, cosplay, and collectible-finding fun this Spring. Comic book lovers will get to meet and interact with their favorite comic book writers and artists, plus attend panels where they will learn a ton more about the business and culture of comics. For the die-hard fans, dressing up as your favorite heroes and villains is a great way to enjoy the convention with friends. There will even be photo opportunities with guests from popular television shows like Star Trek and The Walking Dead.
Sports and Memorabilia Show: April 22–24 – Garden State Exhibit Center
The GT Sports Marketing Autographed, Memorabilia & Sports Card Show is a must-see event for all sports fans and lovers of sports memorabilia. Collectors will be in heaven given the quantity and quality of all the autographed items and other collectibles the show can offer. The 2016 event will feature Ryan Tannehill, Cam Newton, Reggie Bush, Bo Jackson, Eddie Lacy, and many more, and will be held at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset from April 22 until the 24.
Garden State Comic Fest: July 9 and 10 – William G. Mennen Sports Arena
This event for all ages is perfect for anyone with an interest in comics, collectibles, and art. The Garden State Comic Fest is coming to Morristown for a spectacular two-day event during the Summer. Numerous comic book writers, authors, and creators will be attending the festival to meet their fans and sign some autographs. The venue is also hosting a bunch of cool contests and panels as well. Be sure to mark your calendars so you don’t miss out on all of the mid-year excitement.
Newark Comic Con –
September 17 – New Jersey Performing Arts Center New Date: August 20 – Waterfront Place (Behind Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium)
Before the Summer season is officially over, the Newark Comic Con will take place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center for fans of comics, television, and movies. Though it is much smaller than its New York counterpart, Newark Comic Con strives to have the same energy. Incorporating a Zombie Walk, cosplay contest, and the very popular Artist Alley into the mix, the convention will be loads of fun for everyone in attendance.
Dodge Poetry Festival: October 20–23 – New Jersey Performing Arts Center
For its 30th anniversary, the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival is coming to Newark for four days of – you guessed it – poetry readings. The festival features popular poets and writers sharing some of their works and discussing the literature that have had huge impacts on them. There are also numerous meet and greets, offering the chance to talk to some of your favorites. Past poetry festivals have featured the very funny Billy Collins and the witty Stephen Kuusisto. If you can’t wait until October, there will be three other days throughout the year to gather for curated poetry readings and performances, as a part of the NJPAC’s participation in the Dodge Poetry Festival: March 18, April 22, and May 27.
Supernatural Convention: November 4–6 – Marriott Hanover
Creation Entertainment delivers exciting conventions all over the United States. Television series like The Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time, and Supernatural provide fun conventions for all of their devoted fans, even featuring popular guests from other series and movies. Though the Supernatural Convention won’t be venturing to the Marriott Hanover in Whippany until November, you can visit the Once Upon a Time Convention at the same location on June 4 and 5.
Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Patrick Lombardi / Best of NJ
Additional Images (in order) Courtesy:
Discover the Dinosaurs / Timeline
Heroes & Villains Fan Fest / Robbie & Stephen Amell photo
Great Beer Expo / Website
Super Pet Expo / Facebook
East Coast Comicon / Assorted Cosplay Photo
Sports and Memorabilia Show / Logo
Garden State Comic Fest / Assorted Cosplay photo
Newark Comic Con / Star Wars Cosplay photo
Dodge Poetry Festival / Logo
Supernatural Convention / Group Photo