Calgary Geeky Gift Holiday Market merges cosplay and festive cheer

Cosplayer: Selena Brezsnyak sits in her sewing studio in Calgary on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. This is where she makes a lot of her products for her Cosplay GS business which will be at the Calgary Holiday Geeky Gift Market on Dec. 2-3, 2023.  (Photo by Fernando Moreno-Prado/The Press)

Santa Claus won’t be the only one wearing a festive outfit this December.

The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo is not for another five months, but local cosplayers will get the opportunity to dress up in December with the debut of a holiday convention. The first Calgary Geeky Gift Holiday Market is scheduled for Dec. 2 and 3 at the Genesis Centre.

“You get to see how people take their cosplays and add a holiday flair to it,” said Charlene Bayfield, a cosplayer from High River, on how people would often add garlands, bells, or other holiday-related items to their costumes during previous conventions. “We’re kind of getting back together with friends and meeting new people again.”

Cosplaying is the practice of dressing up as a character from a work of fiction, such as a video game or a comic book. Calgary has a vibrant cosplay community, with a local Facebook group boasting more than 1,000 members. Cosplayers often build their outfits and show them off at comic conventions.

Although local conventions started to resume in 2021, Calgary has not had a cosplay-friendly event that merges with the holiday season since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The last event was the Edmonton Expo, held this fall.

“Con season is sort of over but people still like to show off their cosplays,” said Garret Brezsnyak, co-owner of Cosplay GS and avid comic book reader. “The geeky gift markets always advertise cosplaying as welcome.”

Vendors such as Cosplay GS, Pickering Woodworks, and Twisted Stitches are slated to be present at the event.

“Calgary had once had a kind of geeky (Christmas) show, and the people that were doing it dropped it for some unknown reason,” said Alycia Wiens, owner of Geeky Markets & Events, Inc. based in Edmonton.

“I decided that it was done so well up here that it was time to go down to Calgary.”

Wiens refers to the Calgary Holiday Expo that was held at the BMO Centre from 2016 to 2019. It was affiliated with the Calgary Expo, which is held in late April.

The Calgary Holiday Expo combined a comic book convention atmosphere with the holiday season by selling ornaments and displaying pop culture-themed Christmas trees. Attendees also had the chance to have a photo taken with Santa Claus alongside stormtroopers from the Star Wars movies.

This new convention is intended to fill the void left by the lack of a holiday-themed comic book convention.

“If you’re looking for a fun holiday event that will fill your urge to mingle with other geeks, then I highly recommend the Geeky Gift Holiday Market,” said Selena Brezsnyak, co-owner of Cosplay GS, which currently specializes in making dice bags and who moved with her husband to Calgary from Vancouver two years ago.

“The vibe is very festive and welcoming, and it’s for a good cause.”

According to a website called Geek Life, “Calgary is breathtakingly geeky.”

Numerous venues and events in the city cater to geek culture. These include comic book stores, escape rooms, arcade bars, and a tabletop gaming convention that was held at the BMO Centre on Nov. 18.

“I find it’s more diverse here,” said Selena. “There’s just a lot more geek culture in general because people can afford it here.”

What does one get for the nerd who has everything? This convention aims to answer that question with a variety of options and unique homemade goods. The event is targeted at those who identify as geeks, nerds, alternatives, and even modern-day Vikings. Wiens says anybody shopping for their friends will likely find something they do not already own due to the variety of handmade merchandise.

“There are trinkets of all kinds,” she said. “It’s a little bit of everything.”

The organizers hope to expand on the festivities next year, should the market prove to be successful. Wiens says that she is still hoping to get a feel for the venue this year as the event makes its debut. As such, the market event will start simple, with vendors selling merchandise themed after Pokémon, Barbie, Super Mario, and Dungeons & Dragons.

Patrons can also expect to see hats, bags, toys, Funko Pops, clothes, towels, comic books, and nerdy ornaments.

“I’m hoping for a cosplay contest to be brought in,” said Wiens. “That’ll just depend on how things go next year.”

Many of those who will be attending the convention have made plans to do so in advance. Some are planning out of curiosity, and some are hoping to find a special gift for a loved one in their lives.

“I haven’t gotten a gift for our new family pet,” said Rhianne Hadfield, who will be cosplaying in her new Zelda costume. “I’ll probably look for some options there.”

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3. Entry requires a small monetary donation or an item for the Calgary Food Bank.

“It is a safe and welcoming environment for any walk of life,” said Wiens. “Please come on in.”

Geeky vendor: Garrett Brezsnyak stands in the sewing studio for his Cosplay GS business in Calgary on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. He will be a vendor at the Calgary Holiday Geeky Gift Market on Dec. 2-3, 2023. (Photo by Fernando Moreno-Prado/The Press)
About Fernando Moreno-Prado 5 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Fernando Moreno-Prado is working as a writer for The Press in 2024.