The diversity of the furry community is simply incredible. Furry conventions are artistic, diverse, and creative. If you think I’m talking about AC, FC, MFM, FWA, or any of the other tons of furry conventions within North America, that’s not quite what I had in mind. While the “local” furry conventions plenty of merit of their own, I set out to learn about the conventions and meets across the world. I tracked down at least one meaningful picture for each convention that exhibited the local furry culture’s flavor and style. In the end, I found out that there are a huge, huge number of furry gatherings going on all over the world, and they are all fascinating.
I often hear people talk about the fandom as if we (as in, Americans) are the only ones taking part. There seems to be a common conception that the “furry” experience is an intrinsically American one. While it can certainly be argued that “furry” is more active in the U.S.A. than anywhere else in the world, it’s completely invalid to assume that furries are an American-only population. According to the “International Online Furry Survey: Winter 2011”, 78.13% of respondents were from North America. This is quite a large number. However, the survey covered 4,338 participants, meaning that about 948 respondents were from outside of this continent. In addition, it is mentioned that the target was largely aimed at a North American audience and was only written in English. It is extremely likely that there is a far larger population of furries from outside North America than presented.
There many different kinds of meetings going on. My research came across tons of different events, from local cuisine sampling, stargazing, hiking, dances, dodge ball, Highland games, and even scuba diving. Many of the events were reflective of their country’s culture. For example, a Swiss furry meeting takes advantage of the local scenery by hosting in the Swiss Alps, and another Swiss furmeet includes Swiss cheese fondue as a part of its cuisine. In a way, it’s almost like a way to rediscover your local cultural attractions from a new perspective. As a personal example, one of my favorite “furry” gatherings was a skiing outing to the back of the Sandia Mountains here in New Mexico. I had been to the peak of the Sandias but had never been to the ski resort. Thus, it was a fantastic opportunity to discover something new in my own backyard.
The meets and conventions summarized below range from all sizes and styles and, naturally, from all over the world. Their origins range from as far back as the mid 90’s to as recent as mere weeks ago. I hope you find them as interesting as I did!
The theme for Eurofurence 17, held in Magdeburg, Germany in August 2011, was “Kung Fu Hustle” and saw over 1000 attendees. It has been held in Germany for several years in a row but was previously held in Sweden, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. In 2012, the theme will be “Animalia Romana”, a Roman Empire theme. It is also the longest-running convention and was first put together in 1995.
The third Pawpets UK show, subtitled “Goatfellas”, debuted at Confuzzled in May. Confuzzled is a furry convention in the United Kingdom, hosted in Manchester in 2011 and to be held in Hinckley in 2012, where they will be celebrating their fifth anniversary. In 2011 Confuzzled had an attendance just short of 500, making it the second largest outside America behind Eurofurence.
Russia has been hosting its own furry convention since 2001. Like many conventions, this one began as a meeting of furs and grew larger to its size today. Their 2012 convention, in late January-early February, had 190 attendees. Their theme is very unique; as mentioned on their website, “This year north and south will face to face… nose to nose each other to find who is the best: Fennec or Arctic Fox.” Fun fact: At their unofficial gathering in 2000 in Ukiwa’s apartment, one of the 8 attendees brought an actual young lioness named Molly.
Abando is Brazil’s first annual furry gathering, held in Ribeirão Grande, São Paulo starting in 2008. It is a more outdoorsy meeting, basically a camping event on a furry fan’s farm. This will change next year when it will be held on a nature reserve. The 2011 gathering was held in March. Activities included Frisbee, body painting, and water-balloon rugby!
First hosted in a private home, FurcoNZ in New Zealand grew until 2007 when its hosting was moved to camps and lodges around the country. A report of their 2011 attendance hasn’t been published but their 2010 gathering had 66 attendees. The camping event is held in December, during the beginning of NZ’s summer months. Events included outdoor activities such as archery, kayaking, and abseiling, and indoor activities included board games and a dance.
Like FurcoNZ, MiDFur is also held in December. It has been held in Melbourne, Australia since 1999. The two are scheduled around each other to encourage international visitors to make the short flight between the two and visit both during their stay. MiDFur’s last event was actually held in January 2012 had 372 attendees. Their latest venue space is a semi-underground convention and housing space that regularly hosts concerts.
Berlicon is a small convention that has been held in Berlin since 2004. It is yet another outdoors gathering held in a developed camping area. For its first three years it was held in April but it is now held in mid-June. There were 89 attendees in 2011. Their theme for Berlicon 9 is “Nach uns die Sintflut!”, roughly translated as “After the flood!”, another post-apocalyptic theme for 2012.
ČeSFuR is a small convention in the Czech Republic first held in 2005, initially held in late March-early April and more recently in July. The event is headquartered in a hotel and hosts many indoors and outdoors activities, from hiking to stargazing to game shows. 100-200 attendees are expected in 2012.
ZodiaCon, another Czech furry convention, is a recent convention started in May 2011. The second will take place in May 2012. Its theme is “The sky is falling”. Each year has a Zodiac mascot assigned to it, and every mascot can be seen in the banner above. The next convention will be held at the ŠARZ Vršov hotel near Pardubice, Czech Republic, with plenty of outdoor possibilities nearby.
Furry Weekend Holland
Furry Weekend Holland 2012 will take place in Westdorp near Borger, Drenthe, in The Netherlands from March 30th to April 1st. Its location will be “De Tweehek”, a housing facility with plenty of outdoor recreational opportunity nearby. 72 furs have pre-registered from eight countries as of this article. Plans include a large dance, a fursuit photoshoot, and a bar, using Pawcoins that cost one euro each for currency. Shown here is the official badge for the convention.
Last year’s Furtastic took place for the first time at a scout camp Aalborg, Denmark, from July 8-11. Next year’s gathering will be from July 12-15. Events include an art auction, a barbecue, and a bonfire, all on 11.5 acres of campground. A tent served as the bar in the 2011 gathering.
This convention was first held in September 2008 after considerable planning and preparation from the Polish furry website polfurs.org. Interestingly, interest was so great that the convention was unable to accommodate the number of furries interested in attending. The 2012 convention will be held from 7 – 11 August at a sports and recreation resort in Sulejów.
Initially held in July 2007, this Austrian gathering had its own t-shirt, fursuit presentation, art show, and hiking, all on its first year. That same year at the end of August an “underwater” edition was held with a one-day diving course. Recent events have included an ice cave hiking trip and a steam train ride. The next event will be in mid-August.
ScotiaCon is a Scottish convention first held in July 2011 in Inverness. Several trailers were released in the months before the convention, hyping it up. Events included a science talk, a culinary event, and, naturally, Highland Fur Games. The next convention will be in 27-30 July. The convention’s mascot, Wallace, is a Scottish terrier named after William Wallace.
Golden Leaves Con
Golden Leaves Con is an autumn-themed convention held first from 4-7 November in 2010 at the Baselbieter Chinderhus in Langenbruck, Switzerland. Their second gathering was in November 2011 at the same place. Plans included a cocktail night, swimming in their outdoor heated pool, and a plethora of food, including Swiss cheese fondue.
Another Swiss convention, CH-on is held in the scenic Swiss alps. First hosted in June 2008, the convention has been held yearly in June ever since. The convention prides itself on its excellent food and has more laid-back programming compared with other conventions.
Worth mentioning is the series of small furmeets hosted in Israel. First hosted from 20-21 October 2008, these have been small gatherings of only a handful of furs. They’ve been hosted at furs’ homes with the usual standard gathering fare: food, card games, in this case even clubbing. It’s a great example of how widespread furry as a fandom is!
Japan’s second convention, following the last TransFur in 2007, is Kemocon, which first took place on 30 November 2008. More than 390 attendees were at the 2010 event, and the 2011 event was held on 20 November in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Exhibitions included an art show and, naturally, a ton of fursuiting. The name comes from “Kemono”, translating to “beast”, the basic equivalent of the anthropomorphic fandom that exists in North America as “furry”.
This convention, which was held for the first time on 20 March, is sort of mysterious: it has a very well-made website, but a lot of information about it is missing. It has a lot of sponsors and merchandising (shirts, art, and business card holders!). A heavy emphasis seems to be placed on the art and literature; doujinshi, referring to self-published printed works. Hopefully more information will be available soon!
Arguably the most unique convention is Kemospo, held in a gymnasium in Suzuka city, Mie prefecture, on 14 January, 2012. The convention was based around sports, with many prizes offered for the winners of the events, including jump roping and dodge ball. Of course, a lot of contestants even managed to compete in full fursuit!