Interested in being a part of the Masquerade?
Submit your Application between May 1st at 6:00pm and June 1st at 11:59:59pm

The Masquerade is Saturday’s big Costuming event! Come cheer on your peers or become part of the show! Participants will showcase their craftsmanship skills from any genre of costuming in a performance for all to view. Don’t miss this premiere event!

In addition to the performance, participants are also judged on craftsmanship. Craftsmanship judging is optional, but it will affect their overall score. Please indicate if the entry will partake in craftsmanship judging on the Masquerade registration form.

Skill Divisions

  • Youth: Open to all participants aged 12 or younger. However, if a Youth presentation or walk-on contains non-Youth competitors, the group will be moved out of Youth and into the appropriate non-Youth category.
  • Beginner: Open to competitors who have not won any Major Awards. If you have ever won in any division you may not enter in this division.
  • Intermediate: Open to competitors who have won 2 Major Award or less as a Beginner or Intermediate. If you have won more than 2 Major Awards as an Intermediate, you will need to enter the Advanced Division. If you have ever won in any division higher than Intermediate in any competition, you may not enter at Intermediate or lower.
  • Advanced: Open to all competitors who wish to compete at this level. Professional Costumers* must compete in this category.

Each entry’s appropriate category is determined by the highest ranked division member of their group. For example, a group containing 1 Beginner, 3 Intermediate, and 1 Advanced, will be required to participate at the Advanced level.

For Division Placement Purposes: Awards of ranking, including but not limited to “Best in Show,” “Best in Division,” “Best Performance or Craftsmanship,” or “First Place,” “Second Place,” etc. in any type of cosplay competition are considered Major Cosplay Awards. “Honorable Mentions,” “Judges’ Awards,” and similar forms of recognition are not considered major awards.

Participants may be bumped to a higher division at the Judges’ discretion. A competitor may choose to compete in a division higher than the one s/he is eligible to enter. However, if the competitor receives an award in this higher division, they must continue to compete in that division (or higher) in future competitions.

*A Professional Costumer is defined as someone who makes over 50% of their income through costume making or commissions.

Eligibility Rules:

Eligibility: Only registered attendees can participate. This means entrants who are registering online for this event must be pre-registered for AnimeNEXT. This includes all members of group entries. Group leaders should verify all members have pre-registered for AnimeNEXT before registering their skit for the Masquerade. AnimeNEXT Staff are not permitted to enter the competition. Participants must be attendees of the convention.

Costumes: Source Material for entries can be from ALL GENRES. This includes Anime/Manga, Video Game, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Original Designs, Fan Art, Live Action, Comics and more.

Behavior: This is a family friendly event. As such, all performances & costumes may be kept to a PG-13 level. No explicit gestures, nudity, swearing, dancing, etc. Participants are expected to behave onstage and backstage in an appropriately mature manner in a family environment. Negative behavior towards attendees, your fellow contestants, or staff will not be tolerated and you will be asked to leave the event if you fail to heed staff warnings. All costumes and props are subject to the AnimeNEXT Convention Policies.

All participants must sign a liability waiver. If a participant is underage, they must have a parental guardian sign the liability waiver. The parental guardian must be present at all times.

Skit Participation Rules:

Exhibition Entries: Exhibition Entries (non-competing) are allowed, but priority for slots will be given to competing participants.

Each group is limited to 10 people. This includes stage ninjas, as no more than 10 people are allowed on stage at any given time… even if they are dressed in camouflage.

Each participant may only be involved in one skit each. You cannot participate in multiple skits.

Time Limits:

  1. 1 to 2 participants: 45 seconds.
  2. Group of 3-5 participants: 2 minutes.
  3. Group of 6-10 participants: 2:30 minutes

**We cannot offer longer time limits. Please don’t ask. This is to ensure that everyone gets to perform within our event’s time limit.

Size and Mobility: For safety reasons, over-sized costumes or props that cannot navigate the stairs & backstage area due to height, width, etc, may be asked to enter the Hall Costume Contest instead. You may have a handler if visibility or mobility is limited, but all persons & props must be able to get on and off the stage via the stage stairs without interrupting the event or causing undue delay for your fellow participants.

What is not allowed on stage:

  • Acrobatics and martial arts
  • No throwing things off the stage, regardless of the direction of the throw.
  • No toilet paper, tissues, rice, water, etc.
  • Fireworks, pyrotechnics, or any fire in general
  • Anything deemed dangerous to your fellow participants, attendees, staff, equipment, or building.
  • Working Microphones (live audio). Prop Microphones (with no audio capability) are fine.

We will allow slower, choreographed, dance-like movements. Be sure to indicate such presentations when you register. Tell us in advance of anything “unique” you have planned in your presentation. We will do our best to accommodate your requests and work with you within the rules, but are limited in what we can do and allow. The more we know ahead of time, the more we can work with you. Waiting till you check-in to ask for special clearance to do something is way too late!

Respect the stage and leave it clean. You bring it on with you, you take it off with you.

Stay in the designated area to which you are assigned. Anyone found loitering in areas that are off limits will be subject to dismissal from the event and/or the convention itself.

Pre-recording of any and all dialogue & music is required, as the acoustics in the building are very rough. You will not be allowed a microphone.

Live musical presentations are permitted – however they must be approved by the Masquerade Coordinator at the pre-registration phase.

Mandatory Participation:

  • Friday Night Check-In (There will be a window of several hours that you can simply walk in. This will only take 10 minutes. You need to bring your audio *see below)
  • Saturday Morning Rehearsal (by appointment only / times will be chosen DURING Friday night check-in. You will be given ONE run-through on stage with your music, plus additional guidance by Masquerade staff. This will take only 10 minutes)
  • Saturday Afternoon Green Room Check-in (1 hr prior to the Masquerade. Once you are checked in, you are here until your performance is over).

IF YOU ARE A NO-SHOW FOR ANY of those three mandatory requirements, you don’t get to perform. End of story. If there are extenuating circumstances that come up, please contact the Masquerade Coordinator to work it out with them.

Violating any Masquerade or Convention rules will disqualify you. A severe violation could result in removal from the convention. The Masquerade Coordinator has final say in all circumstances and disputes.

Required to bring:

Audio MUST be submitted in .MP3 format on a flash drive at FRIDAY NIGHT CHECK IN. NO EXCEPTIONS. No other formats. Make sure your audio works BEFORE you get to Check-In.

The flash drive will be returned to you before you leave Check-In.

All participants are asked to have a STAR sticker on the back of their badge. If the participant’s badge is inspected by any Masquerade Staff and the participant is found to have brought their sticker as asked, you will be awarded with our appreciation for having read the rules. Appreciation might be in the form of another sticker, a charm, a pin, a snack, a pat on the head, or even special consideration during our sacrificial ceremony (meaning it won’t be you we sacrifice to the cosplay overlords).

Costume Reference Materials: PRINTED reference material is required for craftsmanship judging on SATURDAY. Even if a character is popular or well-known, reference material is needed in order to judge for accuracy. Lack of PRINTED reference will greatly affect scoring, as not every judge has knowledge of every detail of every character. Phones, laptops, tablets, and anything similar will NOT be accepted as it must be something you can leave with the judges for later review. It is highly suggested a thin folder with pockets or brads should be used to present your images. Progress pictures of construction work may also help, but remember that judging time is very limited and the judges do not have the time to look through pages upon pages of references and will revisit during the deliberation process.

  • Recreation: Quality printouts of screen-captures, official images of characters, and art book images are acceptable.
  • Original Designs: An inspiration sheet must be submitted. This includes a sketch and images used for inspiration. Do not submit a vision or mood board.


Registration opens for the Masquerade on Friday, May 1st at 10AM and will close Friday, May 22nd at 11:59:59PM. A link for submission will appear at the top of this page, but will NOT be activated until the given time.

When the submission form is live, only one person in a group needs to fill out the form, but will be required to provide information on all members including stage ninjas.

There is NO “at-con” registration for this event. You have to pre-register online.

Masquerade Check-in

  1. The group leader (not the whole group) of a pre-registered entry must check in at Masquerade HQ during pre-registration check-in times to confirm your entry and any special requirements, and to receive your backstage passes. Failure to show up during this time period means your slot will be dropped and made available to another group.
  2. Should you need to cancel your entry, please inform the Masquerade Director as soon as possible. We completely understand last minute issues, nerves, etc.
  3. Audio MUST be delivered at this time! .MP3 format on a flash drive! No cds, no wav files, etc.


  1. Awards are broken down by Division, when applicable. Awards will be determined based on scores for each division and category, focusing on Craftsmanship and Presentation, and will be awarded at the Judges’ discretion.
  2. In order to be eligible for “Best In Show”, a group must have completed both Craftsmanship & Presentation judging.
  3. The Spirit Award will be given to the contestant that best represents Cos-positivity.
  4. If there are insufficient entries in a Division or Category, the judges have the right to not assign an award.

Words of Wisdom (aka – tips for better scores)

Short and to the point is always more memorable. Just because you have a full time limit, does not mean you have to fill that entire time limit. Think of the presentation as a commercial for what you are sourcing. Keeping the audience’s attention focused is central to a presentation.

Think outside the box! Skits can be anything from walk-ons, comedy, reenactments, musical performances, ANYTHING. You’ll want to stand out from the rest, so make sure it’s a performance that is unique and memorable! Don’t be afraid to get silly or overly dramatic on stage! Have fun with it!

If you are part of group performance – pick a leader. A con-mom. Someone who can keep everyone else on task no matter how excited or overwhelmed anyone gets. And don’t forget to acknowledge every single person’s contribution to the group. It’ll make you stronger and eager for the next performance.. And the next.. And the next. That’s part of what we call cos-postivity.

The audience doesn’t get to see you up close like the judges do, so make sure to use the performance to show the AUDIENCE why you deserve awards for craftsmanship along with performance. For example – Got a nifty built in trick to your costume? Find a way to incorporate it into your performance. Make sure to show it off! Best In Show has to show that not only can they perform, but they can make their stuff too!

Always run your presentation by someone who is not familiar with your source material and see if they ‘get’ it. Private jokes are all great and stuff, but you are trying to share that joke with several hundred other people who may not have any idea about what you are talking / doing. Make sure your skit has broad appeal. The judges will be listening to see how the audience responds to you!

Remember that you want the poor guy stuck in the far back row to be able to understand and see what’s going on just as much as the person who snuck into the front row, so over-exaggerate movements and don’t clump up together if you can help it! USE the stage and spread out! Make sure that everyone is facing the audience unless you have a specific reason for their back to be turned. If you can’t see or understand what’s going on from at least 20 feet away (including signs), then you may want to rework your choreography (and invest in better sharpies/paint).

Above all, make sure you have a beginning, middle, and end to your performance. Stay in character the entire time you are on stage. Do not simply break into a song and then run off the stage as an exit strategy for your performance. You want a satisfying conclusion to anything you watch, right?

(looking for what type of sticker to have? We’ve moved it this year, go back and re-read the entire page to find it!)

Let’s have some fun!


If, after reading the above, you are still uncertain about what level you belong to, or if you have any questions, please contact us.