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 Renovation Masquerade will be held on Friday, August 19, 2011 in the Tuscany Ballroom at the Peppermill Hotel and Casino. We currently expect the Masquerade to start at 8 p.m. in line with most recent Worldcons. The Tuscany Ballroom venue is spectacularly well suited to viewing the show, with plenty of room for seating, good sight lines and excellent technical support. It's on the non-smoking second floor of the Peppermill, and we're already planning accommodations for attendees with impaired mobility and other special needs.

We are particularly delighted to announce that the Masters of Ceremony for the Masquerade will be Hugo Award winners Phil and Kaja Foglio, creators of Girl Genius ( Always convivial hosts, the Foglios are joined by multiple-Hugo nominee Paul Cornell, who will be entertaining the audience while the judges deliberate with his special Worldcon edition of the BBC Radio 4 game show Just a Minute.

How to Participate

If you are thinking about participating, please start by reading our Masquerade Rules. The Rules include an introduction from Kevin Roche and Andy Trembley, our Masquerade Directors, 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 Wednesday, August 17. 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 (the day of the show) there will be an 11 a.m. required meeting in the Tuscany Ballroom for all contestants, to explain how the show will run and share important safety information. Following that we will start 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.

Our Judges

Masquerade Directors Kevin Roche and Andrew Trembley have now announced the first members of the judging panel charged with the formidable task of selecting award winners from the panoply of talent that will cross the Masquerade stage: Karen Dick and Lindsay Tallman will be backstage for close-up workmanship judging, with Toni Lay and John O'Halloran out front to judge the entries as presented on-stage. Assisting as Judges' Clerk will be Aurora Celeste.

All talented costumers, the panel combines a wealth of experience on and off stage in international masquerade competitions. Ms Dick is the founder and owner of Costume-Con, the annual international costuming convention. Ms Tallman has been ably producing the always-packed Anime Los Angeles masquerade since 2007. Ms Lay has directed numerous Costume-Con masquerades and is one of the founding members of the New Jersey/New York Costumers' Guild. No stranger to the masquerade stage, Mr O'Halloran is most familiar to costumers behind the scenes, making sure they get across the stage safely and successfully. Ms Celeste has years of experience organizing the costume program track and the Costume Parade at Dragon*Con.

Getting in Touch

If you need to reach Kevin and Andy for anything relating to the Masquerade, you can contact them at

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 Reno. 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 that not everyone enjoys being photographed so ask first, OK?

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:

To see more pictures from Worldcon Masquerades try the following links:

Photograph Credits

Top: "Gryphon, a Mythical Beast", James Steele, winner of a Workmanship Award for Featherwork and a Presentation award for Best in Class Novice.

Bottom: "The Iron Orchid", Alison Cook, winner of a Design Award for Best Design Detail, a Workmanship Award for Peacock Tails and Electronics and a Presentation Award for Most Beautiful Master.