On Saturday February 23, 2019 a few conventions, which included the eighth annual Winterfest presented by Ai-Kon, kept the whole RBC Convention Centre quite full all afternoon and evening. Ai-Kon’s yearly attraction, Winterfest originally started as a 10th anniversary event in February 2011, but two years later became an annual event for all Anime/Pop culture fans to scratch their itch waiting for July to come around to attend the full 3-day extravaganza that is Ai-Kon.
Winterfest had a lot for con-goers to keep busy throughout the entire day and evening. Between the screening room to watch episodes of popular anime or anime movies, the panel room, Maid Cafe, game room/game tournaments, cosplay hallway, the market place to purchase numerous items, art, etc. Even Nintendo of Canada set up a booth near the market place in the main hallway to let con-goers play/test out brand new Nintendo Switch games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee! I should not forget about Winterfest’s dance corner in the main entrance area of the convention centre where many con-goers danced along side the Winnipeg based 10-member dance cover group, Nonets and others, throughout the entire con. Lastly, the main stage that saw performances from the Anime theme song cover band, Party Punch, a K-pop dance showcase, and a performance by the j-Rock idol unit, Seishun Youth Academy.
There was a plethora of con-goers who dressed up as their favourite anime or pop culture characters at Winterfest, as many do at most cons, for those who are unfamiliar. A noticeable favourite this year was both various characters from the anime, My Hero Academia and Riot Games’ League of Legends pop group, K/DA. K/DA are a K-pop group collaboration between K-pop artists Soyeon and Miyeon of K-pop group, (G)I-dle and american pop artists, Madison Beer and Jaira Burns.
I was able to catch up with a few of these cosplayers and grab a photo or two of their cosplay to show off their hard word and dedication they put into their cosplays for this years Winterfest. (The full photo gallery including the cosplay photos is available here).
The convention organizers brought the Vancouver based Japanese rock idol unit, Seishun Youth Academy to the con as the guests of honor. Seishun Youth Academy are the sister sub-group of the Japanese based pop group, SeiSHUN Gakuen. They are the first ever North American based Japanese rock idol unit. Throughout the day, the members of Seishun Youth Academy, Sally (class representative/leader), Ally (Sally’s twin sister, sub-leader), Yayoi, and Stella Han participated in a Q&A panel, a pre-performance and post-performance merchandise time, where con-goers were able to interact with the girls, buy their merch and have the chance to take a cheki (the Japanese word for a Polaroid photo) with your favourite member or a group cheki with all four of the members.
Seishun Youth Academy closed out their time at the convention with a stellar performance of their original music for a large number of con-goers at the main stage. Winterfest marked the units very first time performing out of Vancouver and it was actually also their first ever appearance at an anime convention. They themselves, many others, and myself who was made a fan by their performance, hope to see the girls return to the city again in the future. I hope the group fulfils their dream of performing all over the world in the years to come. Seishun Youth Academy are hosting a free show at the Biltmore Cabaret on March 2, 2019 in Vancouver, BC. They hope to have a new original song out sometime in the following month as well. Make sure to keep a look out on their socials for that.