April 2020 Is the First Conventionless Month in Over 40 Years
The Coronavirus pandemic first started affecting conventions scheduled for the weekend of March 7th and 8th when San Jose Super Toy & Comic Book Show and Paris Manga & Sci-Fi Show were cancelled. By the following weekend, a majority of the conventions had cancelled or postponed and 13 remained. Between the time the last convention ended on the evening of March 15, 2020 and the publication of this article, no other fan convention has taken place anywhere in the world…and none are still scheduled for weeks.
Conventions have continued to announce cancellations or postponements as the weeks have continued while the world sits at home in various states of quarantine. Some conventions announced plans to hold an “online convention” while most have shut down and started making plans for their next event later in the year or next year. Many cancelled conventions have also published lists of artists and vendors that would have been at the convention as a way to encourage online sales and support those small businesses.
As the weeks of social distancing, sheltering-in-place, and quarantine have continued, concerned attendees have ranged from understanding to outrage in reaction to announcements from their favorite conventions. Many conventions have had to wait for the government to force their venue to close in order to trigger the force majeure (or “act of God”) clause in their contracts. This clause releases conventions from penalties that they may have to pay to the venue if they had cancelled the convention on their own. Some attendees, especially in the early weeks of the pandemic, were quite impatient that conventions weren’t publicly cancelling their events. Breaking the contract to cancel the convention would, in many cases, bankrupt the convention and cause it to never return.
We’re now coming up upon the fourth straight weekend without a single fan convention being held anywhere on the planet. The number of conventions in April dropped off quite quickly and we received confirmation today from the final two events that they have been cancelled. April 2020 is now a conventionless month. Although our convention database is incomplete, especially in regard to convention data in the 20th century, this is the first calendar month without any convention since at least January 1974. If you know of any conventions held in January 1974 (or any we’re missing in our database from any year), please let us know!
Currently, there are still three conventions scheduled for the first weekend in May, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see them cancel or postpone. Keep checking our convention listing on FanCons.com for the latest updates on cancellations, postponements, and new dates.
UPDATE: A previous version of this article cited December 1988 as the last time there was a month without a convention. We have since filled in some blanks and gone as far back as October 1979.
UPDATE 2: We have filled in some more blanks and can now go back until May 1974.
UPDATE 3: We can now go back until January 1974 before we get to a calendar month without a single convention.