Not unlike many other anime conventions, Ai-Kon had its humble beginnings as an open-house event organized and run by UMAnime, the anime club at the University of Manitoba. The upstart convention turned out to be a success in bringing together anime fans of all sorts in the Manitoba area. After going on an organizational hiatus for one year to assess the potential future of this one-time gathering, Ai-Kon has been an annual event ever since.
Originally held at the University of Manitoba campus, the growth of the convention necessitated a move to a larger, more accessible facility; first the Sheraton hotel in downtown Winnipeg, to its current location at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. Once a UMAnime sanctioned event, Ai-Kon is now run by a nonprofit organization consisting of an independant board of volunteers who are dedicated to making the convention a memorable time for all who attend (And in a good way!).
Ai-Kon is a three-day event held during the summer, which runs around the clock from start to finish. Other than our focus on Japanese animation, comics and closely related media, the convention has branched off to include other events that have varying amounts of overlap with our attendees' interests. We host many anime convention staples, such as the cosplay masquerade, assorted video games with tournament prizes, and rooms for vendors and artists alike to showcase and sell their wares. Thanks to the diverse range of anime fans in the area, with each passing year we've been able to host panels and other events covering more ground in other semi-related areas, from Japanese Tea Ceremony and Aikido demonstrations from the Manitoba Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre to panels discussing the finer points of Go and ball-jointed dolls. Really, we have so much of the latter here, it's kind of unsettling!
Thanks to the continued support of these various groups in and around Manitoba, we have been successful in our efforts to bring an assorted mix of entertainment, information and merchandise that has something compelling for everyone at the con.