Friday Night Costuming Contest (FNCC) Registration & F.A.Q.s

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions that we get about the FNCC.

General Information

This contest takes place in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom on Friday Night at 8:30pm Contestant pre-judging is held in room A602 (see section on Pre-Judging below for times) .

This contest is open to any and all designers/creators who are a registered attendee of Dragon Con.

Yes. Please bear in mind that it is the designer/creator that is competing; whether it is one person that did all the work for a grouping of costumes or multiple individuals collaborated on the work, it is that person or persons that will be judged. He/she or all will need to be present at the pre-judging to receive credit for their work. Any work contributed by a designer/builder that is not present will be deducted from the final score (ex: remaining contestants did 80% of the work rather than 100% if the missing creator were in attendance.)

No. You do not need to be a professional to enter. However, understand that the FNCC is about craftsmanship so the better your skills and creativity, the higher you rate. It is the designer/creator that is being judged, not the model.

Children may enter or be entered into the FNCC. We love to see our young costumers; but we also ask all youth entries take into consideration that it's a construction contest and should be set to the proper experience level in relationship to the actual person that constructed the costume. Please register appropriately. If an adult created the costume then it cannot be registered for the youth category: in this situation the child is the model.

We have 4 different skill levels* and 7 awards:

  • Youth - is intended for entrants age 12 and under and promotes the developing talents of our young attendees.
  • Novice - for attendees age 13 and up that are new to costuming or have never won an award for costuming at a major convention that promotes or focuses on costuming. This level is for newbies: the ones that have talents, want to learn more and be judged on their designs and efforts.
  • Journeyman - intended for those that have been working at the art of costuming for a few years and have entered any number of costuming contests in the past. Even if they have been away from making costumes or entering contests for years, they are still considered a Journeyman (or higher) based on past skills and efforts.
  • Professional - for costumers that have repeatedly worked on, entered numerous costume contests at Dragon Con or other conventions that place focus on costuming either in panels or contests. At this level, we are looking at construction skills, design effort, documentation, and presentation of the costume itself. These attendees are usually building and designing year-round and/or may be employed as costumers in their local cities. These costumes are judged at the highest of standards.

*Note: the judges reserve the right to change the skill level for which you are registered if they feel that your previous experience warrants bumping your registration to a lower or higher skill level.  

This is a craftsmanship contest and the costume must be the contestants own work. Therefore, purchased costumes are not suitable. However, you may use a limited number of purchased items that are significantly altered as part of your design. For example: contestant purchases pre-fabricated armor but the cleaning or cutting from the mold, assembling, painting, and/or decorating is his/her own work. Buying armor and simply putting it on would not constitute construction- merely presentation. Continuing the example, personal creation of the under suit, rubber neck pieces, attachment methods, etc. in conjunction with the armor would be considered construction. A good rule of thumb: if the contestant did not personally construct 70% or more of the costume, it WILL NOT qualify for FNCC. For those costumes, please refer to the contests list on Dragon Con’s main website.

Dragon Con reserves the right to withdraw award at any time during the course of the weekend should the same costume be found in multiple winner's circles. Also, a costume cannot be entered if it has won an award at Dragon Con in a previous year or other costuming construction specific events at other conventions. If your costume was entered and did not win OR won but you made significant changes to it (must be reflected in your documentation,) it can be considered for entry. The final decision will rest with the Judges. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

No. Designers entering the FNCC can have more than one model wear a group themed series of costumes as a single entry (Ex: the designer has created costumes representing a group comprised of each character in the Wizard of Oz.) Likewise, a group of designers can enter as a single unit for either one costume (they collaborated on the costume as a group) or in a group display (they each designed their own costume for the Wizard of Oz group, for example.) However, multiple entries are not permitted by any one single designer. In other words, whether Jane Doe enters more than once: as herself in two different teams of designers as herself and as part of a team …one registration will be excepted and additional registrations WILL be forfeited at the judge’s discretion.

No. Designer and model must have a current Dragon Con membership (a badge for this year) to enter any of the events and contests that Dragon Con offers, including FNCC.

Yes. Unfortunately, we have had a case where contestant dishonesty regarding their skill level posed an unfair advantage over other FNCC contestants. Since then, we have added filters to level the playing field and ensure that contestants are competing only with those that are within their experience level and category. Our volunteers, judges, and many of our fans are well connected across numerous costuming communities nationally. Contestants claiming someone else’s work as their own or misrepresenting their experience level are EXTREMELY likely to be caught. However, we cannot guarantee that our system works 100% of the time.

Yes. For starters, all winners and honorable mentions are featured in our exclusive fan event: Meet the Winners of the Friday Night Costuming Contest. That event is held on Saturday of the con from 1-2pm in the Costuming Track room (Hilton 304-305.) You will meet your fans and show off your costume. You do not have to wear the costume again, but we do ask that you at least bring it with you. More importantly, Dragon Con is offering $50 in Dragon Con Bucks for Best Youth, Novice, Journeyman, and Professional, as well as overall Audience Choice. A check for $250 and a guaranteed hotel reservation* will be awarded for the Best in Show. There is also an award going out to the contestant of the professional category that wins Social Media Favorite where they are given a free membership for next year. *This is an unpaid reservation only at the host hotel of your choice for next year's Dragon Con. Just think, no wait-list lottery! (Dragon Con reserves the right to make substitutions and changes to the prize packages.)

The judges are seasoned professionals that currently work in the costuming industry: Kathleen O'Shea David, Freddy Clements, Travis Scott Merrill, Robert Allsopp, and Cheralyn Lambeth. Together, their expertise ranges from every genre and material type. These judges experience ranges from major theatrical companies, film, television, universities, and commercial business. You can read more about each of these judges by visiting Dragon Con's "Who to See" page.

The emcees are to be determined at this time. Please check back later for the latest update.

You can find pics of this contest on Dragon Con's Flickr profile at: Bear in mind that photos were taken by the Photo Ops team rather than Costuming Track and that they have the entire 4 days worth of pics to get uploaded. Often, they have them posted within a month after con but it may take longer. If pics aren't up by late November you might consider contacting:

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Judges need to know how the costume was constructed, designed, and/or created. They want to know what the inspiration is and how much work went into it. Documenting (journaling) your creation process is an excellent way to show judges how much of your costume was your own design and creation. Documentation (in the form of a single multi-page PDF or MS Word document set to 8.5 x 11 paper so judges may print them) must be submitted online no later than August 15 at 11:59pm. In your document you may include notes, photos, drawings, graphs, etc. so long as they are consolidated into a single document. You may also bring fabric samples with you to the event but make sure it is swatches that you are willing to part with.

Upon completion of your online registration you will be provided the link to submit your documentation to Costuming Track for our judges. Be respectful of the judges time: we ask that you consolidate all journaling, photos, and other resource information into a single multi-page PDF that is set to 8.5 x 11 paper. Please DO NOT send multiple attachments. They will automatically get cached. So we may expedite the documentation portion of your judges scores, we simply CANNOT accept inappropriate documentation nor are we able to consolidate multiple documents into a single document for you.

No. By the very nature of experience, some people will require more time than others to achieve the look of their costume. Therefore, time alone is not a factor. The FNCC focuses on final results vs. effort expended.

Yes: August 15th at 11:59p.

NOTE: This is the documentation due date, not the last date we accept registrations. Please see FAQs for Registrations for more details.

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All contestants (and their models, if applicable) must attend pre-judging.
The below times are a guideline and not exact times: Novices arrive between 5:30p & 5:40p and have 1 minute TOTAL to address the judges and answer questions they may have (this is to include the judges questions AND your responses.) Journeyman arrive by 6:30p and will have 3-4 minutes* TOTAL with the judges. Professional must arrive by 7:00p and should be prepared for a TOTAL of 5-7 minutes*. Youth must arrive no later than 8:00p and will spend 3 minutes with the judges. *Notes: Judging time varies depending on the number of contestants within your skill level (exact time will be announced at pre-judging.) Please also be aware that the judges reserve the right to make changes if they feel that your skills are better suited for a different skill level than the one for which you have registered.
A couple of different things happen during this time: 1-This is when the judging actually takes place. Judges use this time to interview the designer and examine their costume. This is where you will defend your designs so come prepared: your allotted time is to include BOTH the judges questions AND your responses. Contestants that fail to arrive for pre-judging will be disqualified. 2-This contest is family-friendly. All costumes are checked for appropriateness. Costumes that are too revealing may be disqualified. While we are not discouraging revealing costumes or costumes based upon creations of a more mature theme, we do request that you consider fully the costume you are wearing and the venue in which you will be presenting it. If you have questions about the type of costume you have prior to arriving at the convention, please feel free to contact us so the staff can make a determination for you. 3-We must place you in the line-up. There are several factors that must be taken into consideration when ushering contestants on and off stage. We need time to plan accordingly.
Pre-judging for all skill levels is at the Marriott in room A601 (Atrium Level).
Here's a list of things to consider:
  • Dragon Con badge
  • Bottled water (particularly if your costume gets hot)
  • Safety pins
  • Extra batteries (if your costume requires)
  • Lint roller
  • Hair spray / hair gel
  • Make up
While we make every attempt to insure that all contestants are comfortable, it's possible that you may be on your feet for a long time which can seem even longer if your costume is heavy or awkward. With that in mind, here's a few additional things to consider: Handler (only if your costume involves a degree of difficulty in moving, vision, etc.) Any out-of-the-ordinary items that you may need to prepare and comfortably navigate your costume during pre-judging and stage presentation. No one knows your costume better than YOU. Please bring the necessary materials needed for your costume. Repair materials will not be provided.
Yes. There will be limited time prior to pre-judging. However, there is space backstage pre-show for contestants to make repairs while waiting to go on stage.
Please bear in mind that we have a limited amount of time to pre-judge each contestant. The show must start on time. If you find that your name has already been called, we will continue through to the last contestant in your skill level category. Once we have made our first pass we will call all previously unanswered contestant names. The second call is the final call. Regrettably, contestants that are not present by the second call are disqualified... no exceptions. So please be on time and listen for your name and/or contestant number to be called.
The judges may subtract from the Judges Bonus Points at their discretion for any or all of the following:
  • Exceeding your time allowed with the judges
  • Failure to submit your complete documentation by August 15
  • Lack of professional courtesy shown toward fellow costumers
  • Arriving late for the judging
Overall, you will be judged on the following criteria:
  • Craftsmanship (30%)
  • Documentation (15%)
  • Accuracy (20%)
  • Accessories, including makeup (15%)
  • Presentation (10%)
  • Judges Bonus Points (10%)
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No. If the focus of your costume is the story behind it, Dragon Con's Masquerade is better suited for you. The FNCC focuses solely on the skills and effort of the designer/builder, not on the entertainment value of the costume wearer. Bear in mind that if your costume has a "reveal", that is OK and can be used in this contest, but the reveal must be easily seen in advance by the judges and easily reset prior to going on stage. For example: if your costume is a caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly with a large wingspan, demonstrating the transformation is totally acceptable but you need to be able to easily and quickly show this aspect to the judges prior to the onstage display. Onstage, this contest is primarily presented in a fashion-show-like manner: sword play, dances, skits, juggling... any performance work is disallowed. Open flame or open liquid containers are prohibited.
For the purpose of this contest, presentation includes how you present your costume to the judges as well as how you present yourself in costume to the audience. For pre-judging, contestants are limited to the time and limitations specified in the "Pre-Judging" section of these FAQs. For the stage, costumers are limited to a fashion show style walk across the stage. Be sure to show off your costume to both side sides of the audience by moving to multiple positions on stage and taking pauses to turn and show off the whole costume (IE: don't move so quickly across the stage that no one can see your work.) But please, do not attempt a skit, upstage the emcees, or make excessive use of character poses.
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There is no at-con registration. All contestants should pre-register online at the bottom of this web page. The documentation required to enter can be found in the "Documentation" section of this FAQ.

Early pre-registration is strongly advised. There is a limit to the number of entries for the contests and entry is first-come first-served. Besides, by pre-registering early you'll be able to focus on getting ready for the contest rather than sitting on a waitlist in the hopes that a position becomes available. Also know that we tend to reach capacity weeks prior to con. You may pre-register at the bottom of this web page.

Yes. Due to the overwhelming popularity of this contest, please keep in mind that we simply cannot accept incomplete registration forms or promissory emails. Also note that openings are limited. If we become full before you register we will place you on the wait list. Thank you for understanding.

Each year, we accept online pre-registration starting June 1 with the latest being August 15 or until all openings are filled.

First, consolidate them into a single Word or PDF document. Submit that document no later than August 15. (Instructions will be provided in your registration confirmation email.)

It couldn't hurt. We make every effort to ensure that your entry is present at the contest; but, we are human and things can happen. Be prepared should that rare missing registration happen to be yours. Simple hardcopies of screen grabs will be sufficient.

READ THIS CAREFULLY.   The answer is Yes, but NOT AN EMAIL. Once you submit your registration, you will be redirected to a confirmation landing page. If you receive the confirmation page then we have received your registration. Please print this page for your records. You will NOT be receiving any additional information beyond what is found on the confirmation page. If you are not redirected to a confirmation landing page with documentation submission instructions please email us at:

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For FNCC Registration, click this link

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