Friday Night Costuming Contest (FNCC) Registration & F.A.Q.s

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions that we get about the FNCC.

General Information

2020 update: It’s online, not in the host hotel. We'll be back next year.
Virtual Dragon Con is free to the universe this year. Anyone may enter, -simply complete a pre-registration.
Yes. Please bear in mind that it is the designer/creator that is competing; whether it is one person that did all the work for a grouping of costumes or multiple individuals collaborated on the work, it is that person or persons that will be judged
You do not need to be a professional to enter. However, understand that the FNCC is about craftsmanship so the better your skills and creativity, the higher you will place. It is the designer/creator that is being judged, not the model.
Children may enter or be entered into the FNCC. We love to see our young costumers; but we also ask all youth entries take into consideration that it's a construction contest and should be set to the proper experience level in relationship to the actual person that constructed the costume. Please register appropriately. If an adult created the costume then it cannot be registered for the youth category: in this situation the child is the model.
We have 4 different skill levels* and 7 awards:
  • Youth - is intended for entrants age 12 and under and promotes the developing talents of our young attendees.
  • Novice - for attendees age 13 and up that are new to costuming or have never won an award for costuming at a major convention that promotes or focuses on costuming. This level is for newbies: the ones that have talents, want to learn more and be judged on their designs and efforts.
  • Journeyman - intended for those that have been working at the art of costuming for a few years and have entered any number of costuming contests in the past. Even if they have been away from making costumes or entering contests for years, they are still considered a Journeyman (or higher) based on past skills and efforts.
  • Professional - for costumers that have repeatedly worked on, entered numerous costume contests at Dragon Con or other conventions that place focus on costuming either in panels or contests. At this level, we are looking at construction skills, design effort, documentation, and presentation of the costume itself. These attendees are usually building and designing year-round and/or may be employed as costumers in their local cities. These costumes are judged at the highest of standards.
*Note: the judges reserve the right to change the skill level for which you are registered if they feel that your previous experience warrants bumping your registration to a lower or higher skill level.  
This is a craftsmanship contest and the costume must be the contestants own work. Therefore, purchased costumes are not suitable for this contest. However, you may use a few purchased items that are altered as part of your design. For example: contestant purchases pre-fabricated armor but the cleaning or cutting from the mold, assembling, painting, and/or decorating is his/her own work. Buying armor and simply putting it on would not constitute construction- merely presentation. Continuing the example, personal creation of the under suit, rubber neck pieces, attachment methods, etc. in conjunction with the armor would be considered construction. A good rule of thumb: if the contestant did not personally construct 70% or more of the costume, it WILL NOT qualify for entry in the FNCC. For those costumes, please refer to the contest list on Dragon Con’s main website.
Dragon Con reserves the right to withdraw award at any time during the course of the weekend should the same costume be found in the winners circle of multiple contests. Also, a costume cannot be entered if it has won an award at Dragon Con in a previous year or other costuming construction specific events at other conventions. If you have entered and have not won OR won but made significant changes to the costume (must be reflected in your documentation,) these costumes can be considered for entry. The final decision will rest with the Judges. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. NOTE: Dragon Con has recently changed their policy on entering multiple major contests with the same costume over the course of the weekend. They are now allowing folks to enter their costumes in more than one of it's major contests with exceptions to winners of said contests. In other words, if you enter the FNCC and win a prize, it is at that point that a Dragon Con representative (not from Costuming Track) will disallow you to enter other costumed contests. If you do not place in FNCC, you are welcome to enter another contest.
No. Designers entering the FNCC can have more than one model wear a group themed series of costumes as a single entry (Ex: the designer has created costumes representing a group comprised of each character in the Wizard of Oz.) Likewise, a group of designers can enter as a single unit for either one costume (they collaborated on the costume as a group) or in a group display (they each designed their own costume for the Wizard of Oz group for example.) However, multiple entries are not permitted by any one single designer. In other words, whether Jane Doe enters more than once: as herself in two different teams of designers as herself and as part of a team …one of the two registrations WILL be forfeited at the judge’s discretion.
Yes. Unfortunately, we have had a case where contestant dishonesty regarding their skill level posed an unfair advantage over other FNCC contestants. Since then, we have added filters to level the playing field and ensure that contestants are competing only with those that are within their experience level and category. Our volunteers, judges, and many of our fans are well connected across numerous costuming communities nationally. Contestants claiming someone else’s work as their own or misrepresenting their experience level are EXTREMELY likely to be caught. However, we cannot guarantee that our system works 100% of the time.
Yes. For starters, all winners and honorable mentions are featured in our exclusive fan event: Meet the Winners of the Friday Night Costuming Contest. That event is held on Saturday of the con from 1-2pm on Facebook Live. You will meet your fans and show off your costume. You do not have to wear the costume again, but we do ask that you at least bring it with you. More importantly, Dragon Con is offering $50 in Dragon Con Bucks for Best Youth, Novice, Journeyman, and Professional. A check for $250 and a guaranteed hotel reservation* will be awarded for the Best in Show. There is also an award going out to the contestant of the professional category that wins Social Media Favorite where they are given a free membership for next year.^ *This is an unpaid reservation only at the host hotel of your choice for Dragon Con 2019. Just think, no wait-list lottery! ^Members that have already transferred their 2020 membership to 2021 due to Covid 19 will be able to use their prize memberships in 2022. (Dragon Con reserves the right to make substitutions and changes to the prize packages.)
The judges are seasoned professionals that currently work in the costuming industry: Kathleen O'Shea David, Freddy Clements, Travis Scott Merrill, Robert Allsopp, and Cheralyn Lambeth. Together, their expertise ranges from every genre and material type. These judges have served in the past along with other designers from major theatrical companies, film, universities, and commercial businesses. You can read more about each of these judges by visiting Dragon Con's "Who to See" page.
The emcees are to be determined at this time. Please check back later for the latest update.
You can find pics of this contest on Dragon Con's Flickr profile at: Bear in mind that photos were taken by the Photo Ops team rather than Costuming Track and that they have the entire 4 days worth of pics to get uploaded. Often, they have them posted within a month after con but it may take longer. If pics aren't up by late November you might consider contacting:
back to top


2020 update: We will email you with specific documentation and video instructions for this year’s virtual contest. If you do not have your email by August 12, please email us at:

Judges need to know how the costume was constructed, designed, and/or created. They want to know what the inspiration was and how much work went into it. Documenting (journaling) your creation process is an excellent way to show judges how much of your costume was your own design and creation. Documentation (in the form of a single multi-page PDF or MS Word document set to 8.5 x 11 paper so judges may print them) must be submitted online no later than August 20, 2020 at 11:59pm. In your document you may include notes, photos, drawings, graphs, etc. so long as they are consolidated into a single document. You may also bring fabric samples with you to the event but make sure it is swatches that you are willing to part with.
2020 update: You don’t need to submit formal documentation this year; rather, a form will be included in your documentation and video instructions email. (Any formal documentation submitted prior to August 4 will be accepted.)
No. By the very nature of experience, some people will require more time than others to achieve the look of their costume. Therefore, time alone is not a factor. The FNCC focuses on final results vs. effort expended.
Yes: August 20th, 2020 at 11:59p.
2020 update: Don't worry. We will email you with documentation instructions that are specific to 2020.
back to top


2020 update: pre-judging is done video submission this year so please ignore this entire set of FAQs this year in favor of the instructions we will email you.
Not applicable for the 2020 virtual contest. Please also be aware that the judges reserve the right to make changes if they feel that your skills are better suited for a different skill level than the one for which you have registered.
Not applicable for the 2020 virtual contest.
Not applicable for the 2020 virtual contest.
Not applicable for the 2020 virtual contest.
Not applicable for the 2020 virtual contest.
back to top


This year's presentation is by video submission. We will email further instructions by August 12.
Not applicable for the 2020 virtual contest.
back to top


There is no at-con registration. We used to provide at-con registration whenever there we had leftover openings. However, we have not had any leftover openings for this contest in over 5 years. All contestants should pre-register online at the bottom of this web page. The documentation required to enter can be found in the "Documentation" section of this FAQ.
Early pre-registration is strongly advised. There is a limit on the number of entries for the contests and entry is first-come first-served. Besides, by pre-registering early you'll be able to focus on getting ready for the contest rather than sitting on a waitlist in the hopes that a position becomes available. Also know that we tend to reach capacity weeks prior to con. You may pre-register at the bottom of this web page.
Yes. Please keep in mind that due to the overwhelming popularity of this contest, we simply cannot accept incomplete registration forms or promissory emails. Thank you for your cooperation.
Each year, we accept online pre-registration from June 1 until August 20 (or until all openings are filled.)
2020 update: We will include special 2020 instructions for this in the forthcoming email.
2020 update: This does not apply to the virtual version of the contest.
2020 update: Yes. We are sending confirmation by Aug 12. If you have not received it by then please email us at:
back to top

Contestant Disclaimer and Registration Form

By submitting the registration form below, you are acknowledging that you have read the above FAQs and agree to abide by any rules and stipulations outlined therein. Dragon Con reserves the right to make changes and substitutions including, but not limited to: time, location, awards, emcees, judges, etc. Upon completion of the below form you are acknowledging that you will be required to submit construction documentation and a 3 minute presentation video for which instructions will be emailed to you by August 12.
back to top

FNCC Registration

Registration for FNCC 2020 is now closed. Documentation submission is due 08.20.20

back to top