Here at Philcon, attendees and participants are encouraged to show their fellow fans their costumes on stage and, if they wish to do so, compete for awards from our judges. No experience is needed; we’ll show you the ropes and help you on and off stage. There will be experienced judges to review entries on stage and, optionally, workmanship judging on the costumes’ technical work. Our judges this year are:

  • Presentation Judges
    • Josh Harmon
    • Venus Carey
    • Victoria Warren
  • Workmanship Judge
    • Wrenn Simms
  • Judges Clerk
    • Essie Rodriguez

Our Emcee for the evening will be Thomas Atkinson. Assisting our entrants in the green room is Alexander Welsher.

Registration is required to appear on stage.

We welcome original designs as well as cosplay and other recreation costumes from science fiction, fantasy, historical, and other media. Costumes can be fan made (even if not worn by the person making it), parent made, or assembled.

Information for Entrants

The following information is very important. Please read it carefully. The Philcon masquerade rules are similar to those of other masquerades; however, they may not be identical to them.

Entrants’ Registration

Registration forms are available below for download and will be available at the on-site masquerade registration desk, which we expect will be open from about 3:00 p.m. until about 8:30 p.m. on Friday and from about 10:00 a.m. until about 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.

All members of each entry must check in at the masquerade registration desk during those periods and each individual must sign a masquerade release form. Please bring your registration form to the desk and we will help you complete it. Please do not forget to sign up for a rehearsal slot.


Green Room: Entrants will wait in the Masquerade Green Room in Crystal Ballroom 3 to go on stage. We expect to open the green room at 6:00 p.m. Once it is officially open, it will be staffed by a green room manager, den moms, and other staff. There will be a costume repair table available for entrants to use if necessary. After appearing on stage, entrants are welcome to return to the green room to relax or to take a seat in the audience, if available.

Come to the Green Room when it opens officially and check in with the person at the check-in table. You will learn your number in the running order and will be assigned to a den of entries just before and/or after you, where you will be in the care of a Den Mom. Go to your den, introduce yourself to the Den Mom assigned to you, and take a seat. Please stay there until it is time to go on stage.

If you need anything, let the Den Mom assigned to you know. We plan to provide light refreshments and to have a staffed repair table should a costume need repairs. The repair table provides glue, safety pins, needles and thread, tools, and so forth. It is for last-minute repairs, not for building or completing a costume.

Your Den Mom also will take you to the Workmanship Judge, should you decide to have your workmanship evaluated (see below), and will get you to the stage at the right time and in the correct order.

Please note that due to the high prevalence of certain allergies the Green Room will be peanut and tree nut free. Keep this in mind if you plan to bring your own snacks.

On Stage: Back stage, there will be stage “ninjas” at the wings to help you up and down stairs, move props on and off stage, and catch you if you stumble. We need to know how much assistance you need, especially if your vision is obscured by a mask or by not wearing your glasses, or if your costume limits your range of movement. The more assistance you need, the earlier you should let us know (preferably at the masquerade registration desk or during rehearsal).

There also will be stage ninjas at the front and sides of the stage to try to stop you from stepping off the stage by mistake. If you hear someone shout “Stop!” during your presentation, do so; you are in immediate danger of falling off the stage! However, if you dance, run, hop, skip, or jump so fast that the catchers cannot stop you, you are responsible for your own safety.

The young fan entries (see below) will appear first during the masquerade and the judges will immediately make their decisions before the adult entries appear on stage.

Our active stage area will be 24′ wide by 14′ deep with normal entry from stage right and normal exit from stage left. The MC will be in the front of the wing on stage left.

We expect to have normal stage front lighting and a follow spot.

Constraints on Presentations

PG-13. The masquerade is PG-13; there are likely to be children in the audience. Flagrant nudity is not permitted; remember, “No costume is no costume.”

Safety and Weapons. Safety is our paramount concern. There will be absolutely no flame, fires, sparks, or other possible ignition sources on stage. Other special effects must be clearly described to the Masquerade Director and to the stage manager and tech crew at the tech rehearsal in order for us to determine that they are (1) legal and (2) safe. Strobe lighting, for example, has the potential to be harmful to members of the audience. Smoke or fog machines could set off the fire alarms.

If your entry includes displaying a weapon, the Masquerade Director must clear it ahead of time to ascertain that it will not harm other entrants, the judges, or the audience. No sharp edges or points will be permitted. Weapons that shoot or eject projectiles will not be permitted. If you intend to point a weapon at other members of your entry or at the judges or audience, you must demonstrate in advance to the Masquerade Director that the weapon DOES NOT WORK.

Weapons permitted in the masquerade that otherwise are not permitted at the con must be carried into and from the green room in secure wrappings and be peace bonded.

Finally, entrants may not throw anything at the audience.

Presentation Time Limit. Each entry is limited to one minute (60 seconds) on stage. After one minute, your lights and sound will fade or we may use a large hook to remove you. Entries with three or more participants are asked to discuss their presentation plans with the Masquerade Director in advance. Remember, your goal is to show off your costume, taking too long on stage can ruin an otherwise good presentation. Your presentation should be no longer than sufficient time for the judges and audience to see your whole costume. Keeping this in mind, if your presentation includes a large group, the Masquerade Director may allow you a small amount of extra time.

Recorded Material. Music and/or narration or dialog as part of your presentation must be pre-recorded (except for a script to be read by the MC). Provide your recordings as a file on a USB drive or in advance to the masquerade director at Acceptable sound file formats are .wav (preferred), .aiff, or high bitrate .mp3. Sound must be handed in at the masquerade registration desk as early as possible so that the tech crew can program the show. The copies should contain only the music and/or speech you want played and NOTHING ELSE. We strongly recommend that you bring several copies of your recording, to provide a back-up should one fail. Label your recordings with the entry title and your name. We will return your USB stick to you at registration when it is copied by tech. We do not plan to return them after the show, so please do not turn in anything of continuing value.

No Live Microphone. There will be no microphones available to entrants; the only person permitted to speak from the stage is the MC. The MC will be happy to work with you in reading a short script or to interact with you during your presentation; remember, however, that you have only one minute on stage. The MC will have only a small light on the lectern under which to read scripts. Please provide your script in black double-spaced type on white paper using at least 18-point letters in a plain and easy-to-read font. Put the title of your entry and your name at the top of the script.

Other Constraints. Entrants may not use substances, including make-up or costume elements, that could turn rancid or be smeared on or stain other costumes. All parts of your costumes must leave with you. This is known as the “No Peanut Butter” rule.

We discourage use of radio controlled or other wireless devices as part of an entry. We do not know what sort of interference will exist in the hall during the show. It would be unfortunate to base your entry on something that doesn’t work when you are on stage.

Each person may appear in only one entry. If you have more than one entry, you must find other Lunacon members to present the other one(s).

Never Surprise the Crew. Entrants should surprise the audience. Never surprise the crew! No exceptions to the “never surprise the crew” rule will be permitted and entrants who attempt to do so will be disqualified.

No Constraint on Hall Costumes. We want to see your costumes. There is no prohibition against presenting on stage costumes worn in the halls before the show or at other conventions. If you have won an award at an international-level competition (a Worldcon, Animé North, or Costume-Con competition), we ask that you use your best judgment about whether to enter in competition or out of competition. If you’re not sure, ask us. However, entries that have won Best in Show or Best [in Skill Division] in an international-level competition, or that present purchased or rented costumes must appear Not in Competition.

Masquerade Orientation and Tech Rehearsal

All entrants will take part in a technical rehearsal on stage on Saturday before the masquerade. This is mandatory. It’s an opportunity for the stage manager and the tech crew to work with you to assure that sound and lighting support your presentation. Entrants need not wear costumes for the tech rehearsal; however, you should wear the shoes you will use for your presentation and any parts of your costume that will impede your movement or vision, or both. Please bring a part of the costume that represents its dominant color(s) for a lighting check.

Full blackout will not be available due to emergency lighting in the room, but it can be made dim.

Tech rehearsal will be on Saturday, times to be determined. Entrants will choose their rehearsal slots at the masquerade registration desk, on a first-come-first-served basis.

Categories and Skill Divisions

The masquerade will use two entry categories, Re-creation and Original Design, and the four skill divisions recommended by the International Costumers’ Guild: Young Fan, Novice, Journeyman, and Craftsman/Master.

Entry Categories

Re-creation costumes are duplicates or design adaptations of the published work of someone other than the contestant. Their design is copied from a film, television show, theatrical presentation, illustration, comic, work of art, or other medium showing at least one good view of the work copied. Examples of re-creation sources include yet are not limited to games, graphic novels, Japanese media, paintings, photos, movies, and TV shows.

Some judges may not be familiar with your source. Therefore, re-creation entries require documentation of the source in the form of at least one image of the work being copied or adapted, which must be turned in at the masquerade registration desk. Please do not submit original images, books, DVD’s, thumb drives, or any valuable items.

Original Design costumes are costumes whose design is the creation of the contestant, even though it may be inspired by an SF, fantasy, mythological, or other source. A costume designed from a written source and the entrant’s imagination is not a recreation costume. It’s an original costume.

Skill Divisions

Skill divisions protect new costumers from having ro compete with experienced costumers. They are not intended to provide recognition; the awards themselves do that. They exist merely to promote fairness. Outside of any single competition, division ranking is meaningless.

Philcon’s skill divisions are as follows:

  • Craftsman/Master: Any entrant may compete in the Craftsman/Master division.
  • Journeyman: Professional costumers may not compete in the Journeyman division. An entrant who has competed and won in the Master division at an international competition (Worldcon, Animé North, or Costume-Con masquerade) or in the Craftsman division at Lunacon or another regional convention may not compete in the Journeyman division. An entrant who has won “Best in Show” or “Best Journeyman” at an international competition may not compete in the Journeyman division. An entrant who has won more than three major awards in the Journeyman division in international competition may not compete in the Journeyman division. Anyone else may compete in the Journeyman division.
  • Novice: Professional costumers may not compete in the Novice division. An entrant who has competed and won in any division other than Novice at an international competition may not compete in the Novice division. An entrant who has won “Best in Show” or “Best Novice” at an international competition may not compete in the Novice division. An entrant who has won major awards in the Novice division at international competitions is encouraged to enter in the Journeyman division.
  • Young Fan: An entrant who is under 13 years of age on the day of the masquerade (i.e., born after November 19, 2022) and who is not part of an adult entry may enter the Young Fan division. This division is for costumes designed and/or made by the young fan, either in their entirety or with assistance from adults (such as parents). A child wearing a costume designed and built entirely by an adult should be entered either in the adult’s appropriate skill division or Not in Competition. A young fan may choose to enter one of the adult categories.

Group entries should compete at the level of the group’s most experienced member(s).

Any entrant may choose to compete in a division that expects higher skill levels. If in doubt about which division to enter, consult the Masquerade Director.


The judges will consider both entry categories and skill divisions in making their awards. The Philcon masquerade’s philosophy is “excellence deserves award”; there are no predetermined minimum or maximum number of awards the judges may make.

Stage Judging. Some judges will be at the front of the audience watching the entries as they present their costumes. They will look at the costumes as well as how they work with the presentation, choreography, music, and/or script. Judging by them is mandatory for all entries except for costumes entered “not in competition”.

Workmanship Judging. Other judges will be in or near the green room before and during the show to evaluate the workmanship on costumes, or parts of costumes, voluntarily brought to them by entrants. They will evaluate your entire costume or just the part(s) you think are best. This is where exquisite attention to detail may be recognized. Please let these judges know what you are most proud of in your costume. Tell them about how you made it. Please provide documentation to help them evaluate your work. They will have only limited amounts of time to review your work and documentation, so keep the documentation brief. Photos, design sketches, screen shots, and brief written descriptions of your work are good.

We recommend that, if in doubt, you let the workmanship judges evaluate your work, even if you’re not impressed by it. If you don’t, you deny them the opportunity to give you an award! The workmanship judges’ decisions are entirely separate from those of the stage judges. Neither affects the other.

Awards. Awards will be presented when the judges have reached their decisions. Their deliberations usually take some time; this is not like “Dancing with the Stars.” If you’re competing, we urge you to stay in the area and be prepared to be called back on stage for an award. Awards will be announced by skill division and will include both awards for stage appearance and for workmanship. In addition, fannish groups may have awards of their own to bestow.


Fan Photography: During the show, members of the audience may take photos from their seats, using available light (not flash). After the last entry’s presentation (while the judges are deliberating) there will be a separate “fan photo” area in another space. Your participation is strictly optional.

For the safety of those on stage, use of flash photography from the audience during the show is strictly prohibited. The Masquerade Director will stop the show and have the house lights turned on until those using flash have been ejected from the hall.

Tips for a Successful Masquerade

Before the show, get some sleep!

Before the show, please eat. If you want to pass out after you’ve been on stage, fine; however, we don’t want you to faint from hunger or low blood sugar in the green room or on stage.

Before the show, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Remember, this is a costume show, not a talent competition. Never bore the audience.

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Have fun!