For fans of film, gaming, cosplay, anime, TV, gadgets and toys, this is the UK’s pop culture event of the year. Running since 2010 with a break in 2020 because of you-know-what, the London MCM Comic Con takes place twice a year. That’s once in the last weekend of May, and once in the last weekend of October at the ExCeL London exhibition centre. People travel from far and wide to visit MCM Comic Con London—last October’s event attracted over 100,000 fans.
What’s on at MCM Comic Con London
It’s a geek feast of pop culture. Expect panels, stages, shows, special guests, lots of cosplay, workshops, gaming and even a tattoo parlour.
Additions to the line-up for MCM Comic Con 2021 will be announced right up until the event itself. Keep an on the MCM social media pages or download the app, which is currently the only place you can find a map (handy, as ExCeL is massive).
MCM Comic Con London Stages
There are several different stages and areas across the venue. The Main Stage will play host to MCM panels, screenings and Q&A sessions.
Over on Centre Stage, there’ll be more panels, plus exhibitor presentations and live performances. If you’re interested in getting the lowdown on how your favourite creators work, head on over to the Creator Stage.
See special guests hanging out on the sofa at the Live Stage.
Artist Alley (formerly Comic Village) is where you can go to shop independent artists and creators.
Pop Asia returns to MCM London once more, with Japanese and East Asian entertainment, culture and fashion.
A newer stage to be added to MCM Comic Con London is the Cosplay Central Stage with panels, competition workshops, crafting demos and prop tutorials.
Other areas to explore include Side Quest gaming zone with new and retro console games, board games, and card games, and the Treehouse for family-friendly fun. Visit this section for face painting, family comedy show, a lightsabre experience, and a live Quidditch demo.
Featured guests for MCM London 2021 are Jonathon Majors, Sophia di Martino and Tom Hiddleston. Other special guests include Ben Barnes, Carolina Ravassa, Charlie Cox, David Hayter, Deborah Ann Woll, Freddy Carter, Gabriel Luna, Harry McEntire, Jim Cummings, Mark Rowley, Ra Williams, Stark Holborn, Zen Cho and many more.
Cosplay is a massive part of MCM Comic Con. Cosplayers gather in their thousands, and you’ll find plenty of them outside too, when the heat of heavy costumes gets too much indoors!
Cosplay Central is the place to go for all your costuming needs: from repairing costumes after a wardrobe malfunction, to changing areas if you don’t fancy arriving in all your clobber. Props are welcome, but make sure you read the costume, weapons and props rules first.
There’s something to suit all levels and styles. Head to the Main Stage for MCM London staple the Cosplay Masquerades on both Saturday and Sunday.
You don’t have to spend all year building an elaborate outfit and props. The Casual Cosplay Showcase welcomes quick and easy cosplay ideas, even if it’s something you threw together on the tube. Sign up before midday on the Saturday or Sunday to take part.
There are different tiers of tickets to MCM Comic Con London:
London Weekend Entry £85.00 (sold out as of September 7th, 2021
- Entrance for all three days
- Access to the show floor from 10 am on Friday, 9am on Saturday and 10 am on Sunday
- Auto entry into year-round MCM prize draws
- Exclusive morning programming an 10% off branded Merch
London General Entry: £20–£25
The standard entrance for individual days.
London Priority Entry: £28.50–£32.50
A day ticket, which will also get you:
- Early entrance from 9 am (Saturday) or 10 am (Friday, Sunday)
- Exclusives deals
- Auto entry into year-round MCM prize draws
- Exclusive morning programming and 10% off branded Merch
Dates and opening times
Show opening hours are staggered between general and priority entry, so you’ll have access from different times, depending on the ticket type you purchase.
FRIDAY PRIORITY: 10 am to 6 pm (Last entry at 5 pm)
FRIDAY GENERAL: 12 pm to 6 pm (Last entry at 5 pm)
SATURDAY PRIORITY: 9 am to 7 pm (Last entry at 6 pm)
SATURDAY GENERAL: 11 am to 7 pm (Last entry at 6 pm)
SUNDAY PRIORITY: 10 am to 5 pm (Last entry at 4 pm)
SUNDAY GENERAL: 12 pm to 5 pm (Last entry at 4 pm)
Meetups at MCM Comic Con
Whether you’re going (Han) solo, or with a bunch of mates, you can connect with other fans and fellow geeks throughout the expo.
Based on previous pre-COVID events, there could be around 16,000 people attending MCM Comic Con London 2021 alone this October. If you want to find some people to hang out with, you can join a meetup for free, with small WhatsApp groups to help break the ice before the big event. More fan meetups will be listed at MCM Comic Con website too.
Free passes and volunteering at MCM Comic Con
There are a couple of ways to visit MCM Comic Con for free. You can apply for a creator pass if you’re active in the pop culture world—this applies to creators, writers, bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers.
It’s worth noting that the event has a ‘fans first’ policy, which means you won’t get any fast-track entries or free access to events requiring additional tickets.
Alternatively, if you want to go for the whole thing, but are feeling a bit skint, you can apply to be a steward. Sign up to volunteer for two shifts (around 3 hours each) across the weekend and then you have the rest of the time to explore the expo for free.
Getting to MCM Comic Con London
ExCeL is in Zone 3. There is no Underground station in the immediate vicinity, but there are two Docklands Light Railway (DLR) stations close by: Custom House and Prince Regent. If you do want to get the tube, Canning Town on the Jubilee Line is approximately 20 minutes away on foot.
Where to stay near ExCeL
If you’re heading to London from out of town and want to make a weekend of it, be warned that ExCeL is in the middle of a bit of a cultural wasteland (Royal Victoria Dock). So you might want to consider staying somewhere a little more lively.
But if you’re just looking for a cheap place to crash out near the venue, then Ibis London Excel Docklands, Premier Inn Docklands and the Holiday Inn Express London Royal Docks are all pretty decent value if you book early enough. You might have better luck with hostels and budget hotels if you go slightly farther afield.
Taking kids to MCM Comic Con London
Children aged 10 and under go free with an adult ticket (max two per paying adult). Once inside they’re free to join you as you explore. Be sure to drop by the Treehouse for activities like face painting and games. Saturday is the busiest day, so bear that in mind if you don’t fancy dealing with long queues with tiny humans in tow.
There are also various (age appropriate) board games and video games to help keep them amused, not to mention the host of colourful characters and costumes they’ll see along the way.
Some practical top tips for MCM Comic Con London
Going to big events can be pricey. Once inside there’ll be plenty of merch to tempt the cash out of your wallet. That said, unlike a lot of venues, you won’t get charged exorbitant amounts for bottled water and sandwiches. You can save cash by bringing your own water, snacks and sarnies. Go full-geek and take a lunchbox.
You might be forgiven for thinking all vendors accept cards, but they don’t. So you’d be wise to take cash out in advance—while there are ATMs, the queues are long, and some even charge you for making withdrawals.
Saturday is by far the busiest day, and midday to 3pm is when it’s busiest. On the flipside, Friday is the quietest day, so if you can get a day off work and prefer to avoid crowds that’s your best bet.
Between 100 ‘where are you??’ messages, loading maps to find your way around and taking countless pictures, your phone battery is going to get thoroughly rinsed. Take a decent power bank to avoid scrambling for precious plug points or paying for mobile charging on the fly.
Not able to make London? There are expos all over the UK and Ireland: MCM Comic Con Glasgow, MCM Comic Con Birmingham (November 13–14, 2021), MCM Comic Con Manchester, MCM Comic MCM Comic Con Dublin, and MCM Comic Con Liverpool all have regular events. Happen to have woken up in Tokyo? Might as well make the most of it and head to the Tokyo Comic Con!