Masquerade - guidance for participants


I've never done this before - where do I start?

Plan your act and make your costumes and props, rope in your friends to take part if you can - multiple-person entries have impact. Think of it as a mini-play or performance.

You'll need to choreograph your movements and decide on your music or sound and possibly visuals as well. Then practise, practise, practise!

How long are these presentations?

They can be as short as you like, as long as the audience and judges get a reasonable chance to see you! The maximum would be no more than a minute for a single-person entry, and one minute on an empty stage is quite a long time if there's only you there.

For a multiple-person entry, think around three minutes overall: you're much better leaving your audience wanting more rather than thinking, god, I thought they'd never get off.

If in doubt, discuss with us.

OK, sounds good, how do I take part?

You can start by registering your interest - this doesn't commit you to enter! Download this PDF form to your computer, adding your own name to the end of the file name. If you prefer you can access this form here as an RTF file. Open and edit it in your favourite word processor.

Complete as many details as you can, and then email the form to After that, you can keep adding further information and sending us the updated file until the deadline on 7th August. Note: we recommend that you make sure you are running the latest version of Adobe Reader to fill in the form. You may also need to click the button at the top right of the Adobe Reader screen marked 'Highlight existing fields'.

As well as letting us know about your plans, this means that we can contact you to let you know when we update any information about the masquerade.

The deadline for your final update will be 7th August, so please make sure to send us as much information as you have by that point. After that, you should not need to make any major changes to your entry. Everything else happens at the convention.

You can find out a lot more from the sections below.

Sound, lights, special effects


Every presentation will need a soundtrack. It can be music, sound effects or something you record yourself such as dialogue. If you don't provide a soundtrack, we'll play something generic from a sound effects recording, or music.

Our Masters of Ceremony can also read out a script or other text; again, send it in a week before the convention at the latest. You can do this at any point after you register your interest but at the latest by 7 August.

Why you need a soundtrack

If you do plan to lip-synch, practise! Few people can do it well and what might have been a great entry can be diminished by poor synchronisation with the soundtrack. (Unless, of course, you intend to be deliberately bad to copy some anime.)

Please send your soundtrack at any point after you register your interest but at the latest by 7 August.

This will help the tech crew ensure it runs smoothly on the day. If you can record your soundtrack onto a separate medium rather than asking the tech crew to select a specific section of a commercial recording then it will help ensure you get what you need.

We can accept any format of sound recording. Your media will be returned to you after the masquerade.

Visual effects

We will have stage lighting and you can tell us what you'd like for your presentation - we'll have one follow spot and a basic palette of coloured filters.

You can have total or partial blackout but beware of the difficulty of moving in total blackout! We won't be offering strobing or rapidly flashing lights as they are potentially hazardous.

We can also front-project onto a screen behind and 13ft (4m) above the stage, so you can set your stage with virtual scenery - a photo, screen shot, film clip, colour wash or other visual. This screen will be 16 x 9 ft or 11 x 5.5 m.

Think carefully about what you choose to have us project, though: a still photo or some scenery will complement your performance. An action sequence from a movie will distract from you because the audience is more likely to watch that than your entry.

Again, send your visuals at any point after you register your interest but at the latest by 7 August so the tech crew can incorporate them into their setup.

We will have some generic backdrops to choose from, such as landscapes and cityscapes.

The stage

The stage will be big: 60ft by 30 ft and 4ft high, so plan on having your action near the front so people can see you. We'll have a ramp up to the stage and are waiting to find out the dimensions of this. It should be at least big enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

To get from the green room to the stage you'll need to pass through two doors that are 2m wide by 2.1m high. Everyone's lives will be easier if your costume does not test these limits to the millimetre though.

Our two Masters of Ceremony will stand at a lectern on one side of the stage.

Judging categories

Below is a summary of the International Costumers' Guild's guidelines. These ensure that entrants can compete at a level that is fair to them. Please contact us if you need to discuss these, though.

You can of course opt not to have your presentation judged.


Anyone can choose to be judged in this category. Also, anyone who exceeds the criteria for Journeyman.


Anyone except:


Anyone except:


Entrants who have not yet turned fifteen by the 16 August 2014, who have made most or all of their costume. If an adult has made the costume, then it is entered at the level appropriate for that adult.

Prize definitions

Each of the above categories will potentially offer the following types of recognition:

It may help the judges if you are able to provide documentation for your entry e.g. pictures of the original on which it is based or the story behind an original design such as a costume based on a description from a novel.


If you would like your entry to be considered for workmanship, have some documents – description, photos of the work in progress, samples, showing how you made it.

For costumes that are reproductions, have some pictures or documentation showing what you have based them on. For an obscure source, judges can't tell how accurate your reproduction is if they have never seen the original. Even for costumes you feel ought to be familiar to everyone, having pictures of the original makes it easier for judges to see how faithful your copy is.

Additional awards will be given as follows:

Judges can decide not to award in any of the categories if they feel that no clear winner was apparent. They can also award tied winners. There may be an award for Worst Pun if we think someone deserves it.

We will follow the conventions of the International Costumers' Guild to make sure competition is fair.

What can I expect at the convention?

Contact us at the Masquerade Registration Desk (near the Masquerade Exhibit in the Exhibits Hall) by 5.30PM on Friday 15 August.

Why? We need to know you're here. We can give you any last minute info and most importantly, we can schedule your rehearsal time - you must attend this. You can also book some time in the extra rehearsal space if you think you'll need it.

If you won't be at the con until after 5:30PM on Friday 15 August then let us know before the con via your registration page or contact us as soon as you know you'll be running late. We will supply contact details for this nearer the time.

Rehearsal is Mandatory!

It's essential that you attend a rehearsal during the Saturday. This lets you see the stage and backstage arrangements and lets us run through your performance with tech, sound and lighting. You'll see where you enter and exit and have a walk through on the main stage.

We will also have some rehearsal space available, most likely up in the South Gallery rooms, with a floor area marked out in the same size and shape as the stage, so you can get in some extra practice while others are using the main stage. This is an especially good idea for any complex entries and group entries. We will have a schedule for this at the con.

Backstage Green Room: arrive by 6.30PM on Saturday

You'll be able to meet and get ready backstage. We will have seating, mirrors, an emergency repair desk with a sewing machine and materials such as glue guns, gaffer tape and other repair items.

There are toilets and a shower room.

Masquerade staff will be on hand to help, and to get you on and off stage. You can also bring your own helpers if you wish. Your entry will be allocated to a small group with its own dedicated staff member who will be responsible for making sure you're comfortable and happy, will run errands (within reason) and will escort you on and off stage and to the photography area.

We will have some light snacks available, as well as drinking water. However, please make sure you have a proper meal before you arrive backstage! If you have very specific dietary requirements, it's probably safest to bring your own snacks.

Sequence of events

  1. Complete and submit the final version of your registration form by Thursday 7 August 2014
  2. Register at the con by 5.30PM on Friday to receive your tech rehearsal timeslot and book time in the secondary rehearsal space if you think you'll need it
  3. Attend your tech rehearsal in the auditorium on Saturday
  4. Be in the backstage green room with all your group and everything you need by 6.30PM
  5. Get running order and meet masquerade staff who will help you
  6. Get into costumes and makeup
  7. Meet workmanship judges (for those opting for this)
  8. Official photographer backstage before or after your presentation – choose what's easier for you
  9. Audience comes in from 7PM
  10. Groups get ready to go on i.e. into final stage-ready costume, group by group in pre-determined running order
  11. Masquerade starts 8PM with junior entries (up to age 15)
  12. Junior awards are presented
  13. Adult entries
  14. Photography by audience during judging interval
  15. Out of costume if necessary
  16. Awards presented

What not to do

The following rules are to ensure everyone's safety, sanity and well-being.

As with all the information on this page some things may change between now and the convention so keep an eye on this page and do contact us to discuss.