Supanova Ultimate Guide
Australia has only a few big fan conventions on its calendar – and Supanova is one of the biggest. Bringing in fan communities from around the country and talented guests from overseas, its importance as a national hub for geek culture and fandom activity cannot be overstated. If you enjoy conventions and you’re visiting Australia there’s no better way to connect with your people than to make a stop at Supanova – read on for our guide to these events so you can pick up some sweet memories and souvenirs!
Supanova has been the mainstay of the Australian convention scene since 2002, but it’s roots go even further – before it was known as Supanova, Aussie pop culture fans knew it as Comicfest! Entertainment Expo. Establishing itself as an annual event in Sydney before expanding out to hold events in other major cities. Supanova has grown year on year into a powerhouse of live entertainment for fans of all types. As a reflection of the crowds who attend and their shifting interests, over the years Supanova has moved from comics and TV fandom to focus on anime, video games, and internet media as well. All of these areas of interest are reflected in its legendary Artists’ Alley, where row upon row of fan creators produce high-quality work celebrating their favourite titles.
Supanova now runs its events in six of Australia’s biggest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Bringing in over 200,000 fans through it’s 2019 tours, Supanova has a scale and level of production on par with some of the best expos around the world.
Supanova has also hosted fun satellite events like film screenings, art masterclasses, and even partnered with Legit Nerds (yes, us!) for an exclusive experience with Arrow star Stephen Amell.
In 2017 Supanova changed it’s name from Supanova Pop Culture Expo to Supanova Comic Con & Gaming, doubling down on video games as a key part of it’s experience.
Go if You Like…
Supanova is unmatched across Australia and indeed all of Oceania in its reach and reputation for getting great celebrity guests. Each of the events on their calendar offers a chance to meet and interact with not only stars of geek TV & film, but also comics creators, youtubers, novelists, cosplayers, propmakers, comedians, voice actors and more! Supanova’s size allows it to cater to the whole melting pot of overlapping interests you’d find among con-goers, and so it’s very likely if you’re reading this, there will be something at an event for you!
Supanova is also proud of its reputation as an all-ages event, with a festival atmosphere perfect for a family holiday or weekend out. If you’re looking for a way to introduce your kids to the world of sci-fi imagination and wonder, or you think they’d get a blast out of getting their photo taken with Iron Man, then Supanova is an unbeatable destination.
Choose Your City!
In recent years the number of Supanova events has expanded up to six, with dates spread out across the year in three “tours” of shows running back to back. This creates the opportunity to visit just one Supanova convention, follow a tour between cities as a single coherent trip, or even make your way to each of them across the year on a grand tour of pop culture and Australia itself!
Still, for most guests one show or tour is enough each year. In this case we would recommend following the Supanova website and Twitter to check in for guest announcements, as guest lists do vary between events and nobody wants to miss out on their favourites. Tickets go on sale a month or two before each tour, with guest announcements beginning slightly earlier. All tickets are available through Moshtix.
Supanova’s first tour each year encompasses Melbourne and the Gold Coast, with shows being held in March or April. The next tour of the year is held in mid-to-late June, featuring the OG Supanova expo in Sydney before going across the country to Perth. Sydney’s event always has a little extra punch that puts it over the top, so be ready for the talent announcements for this one!
Each year’s final tour will show off Supanova’s best in picturesque Adelaide and conclude in Brisbane, taking place in November. Brisbane is the largest of the expansion shows and a renowned party town, so this tour is a fantastic way to cap off your year with a celebration of your favourite fandoms!
Every current Supanova city has at least one international airport serving it nearby, so the route for most travellers should be pretty straightforward! Air travel is also highly recommended for those traveling from interstate or between legs of a tour – traveling through Australia’s infamous Red Heart by car or bus is a trip worth planning by itself, although options exist for the intrepid among us!
Once you arrive at the airport, options for travel vary. Assuming you’re staying somewhere in the city proper, Melbourne and Gold Coast Airports offer regular SkyBus servies to take you from terminal to the city proper. These services require no booking and leave regularly, making them a hassle-free option if your Supanova is in those cities.
For Sydney Supanova fans, by far the cheapest and most convenient option is the train, which runs direct from the station itself into the rest of Sydney’s metro rail network. Reaching the CBD in under 15 minutes and being accessible with the same ticketing system as the surrounding public transport makes it a no-brainer for this leg of your trip. Typically staged in Olympic Park, Supanova is located next to some great accommodation, including the new Meriton Suites on Carter Street. Nearby Quest apartments are a great balance between comfort and budget, and the Novotel is an Olympic Park insititution.
Perth Airport also offers a range of public transport options on their city-wide ticketing system, notably several bus routes which combine to ferry you to most destinations in the city. Those with considerable luggage may want to pinpoint Bus Route 380, which is fitted with dedicated luggage racks and runs an express service from the airport to Perth’s major train stations.
Adelaide Airport has a similar extension of its metro bus network to service different regions of the suburbs, as well as the double-decker JetExpress services direct to the city. There’s also a $10 per head shuttle bus option which can deliver you direct to your hotel, should you want the comfort.
Brisbane airport, like Sydney, benefits from a dedicated train station, with services running to the city every 15 minutes (30 during off-peak hours) and taking 20 minutes to complete the journey. You can also get a train the other way to reach the Gold Coast, depending on your accommodation or desire to see that famous holiday spot. The two cities share a public transport ticketing system, so you can move easily between them for a more colourful trip!
While ridesharing apps and car hire services are available in all Supanova cities, we recommend public transport options to get to your accommodation because you will then already have the tools to get from your accommodation to the event, or anywhere else you care to visit.
All host cities have very similar prepaid travel-card ticketing systems (Myki for Melbourne, Opal for Sydney, Go Card for Brisbane/Gold Coast, metroCARD for Adelaide, and SmartRider for Perth) which are generally the cheapest and easiest ways to use train, tram and bus services. You can purchase these cards and top them up at stations and convenience stores, and since they’re pay-as-you-go you can avoid having to memorise fares and ticket types.
WHERE TO STAY
With many options available between this booking service and roomshare apps (although beware of high prices on AirBnB in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne) the bigger question for a Supanova traveller might be which host city offers a good cultural fit! A three-day Supanova works best as the centrepiece of a broader travel experience, so the tourist attractions and city life available to you outside the convention can end up being make-or-break for your holiday.
Melbourne is Australia’s most urbane and culturally daring city, with often dour weather and an aesthetic to match. Besides having been voted the best coffee city in the world(!) with more cafes per capita than anywhere else, Melbourne also has a renowned scene for live music and a strong variety of restaurants.
Sydney is the postcard of Australia, offering awesome views of sea and skyline and iconic man-made landmarks like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. A rich and well-outfitted world city, there’s shopping, museums, sports and a range of adventurous side activities available to distract you in your time away from the convention.
Brisbane and the Gold Coast are further up the coast and have access to world-famous recreational beaches. Any surfer or swimmer will love it here, as well as party animals who can party on after Supanova and learn some of why Australians call the city “Bris-Vegas”!
Perth is the opposite in temperament while offering many of the same geographic highlights, lauded for its relaxed and welcoming atmosphere as well as its sun-dappled beaches. You can enjoy the pub music scene over dinner, or connect with the natural and historical side of Australia. Perth maintains strong connections with its traditional Aboriginal owners, and is home to the expansive, beautiful Kings Park – 400+ hectares of native gardens and bushland.
Adelaide is the august old city of Australia, a famous City of Churches where visitors are surrounded by museums, galleries and beautiful colonial architecture. The city abuts one of Australia’s internationally prized wine regions, with a day tour offering a tastebud-tempting extension to any Supanova trip.
Australia is a country with many identities, and by visiting each of its major cities with Supanova you can sample the best of what it has to offer. Combined with the rotating list of celebrity guests the convention offers, you have the opportunity to pick out your personal ideal combo of destination and attractions – it doesn’t get any better for convention-goers.
THINGS TO DO AT SUPANOVA!
The list of international guests is second to none for conventions outside the US scene, bringing in all manner of beloved creators and celebrities for fans to meet and take photos with. The convention’s planning team often go above and beyond to recruit guests who have worked together on projects or who share an industry connection, giving even experienced con-goers an irresistable lineup with great panel interactions.
For their part, that audience gives back to Supanova and eachother in a big way. The local fandom scene is bursting with talented artists, game designers, writers, cosplayers and video producers, for whom Supanova arriving in their city marks one of their biggest opportunities to celebrate and share their work. The convention is prized for The Alley, their expanded and refined version of a typical fan-artist section, which creates separate specialized spaces for all those sorts of creators just mentioned as well as tech vendors, app developers and other small traders whose products cater to the engaged geek crowd. The Alley is a big part of Supanova both in physical space and as an attraction, and the different cities are so far apart that there’s a nearly unique array of things to marvel at for each expo!
Gold Nova 2021 Floor Plan
AN EXPLOSION OF EXCELLENCE
As we mentioned, Supanova is one of the biggest days out for the dedicated and creative fan communities it visits across Australia. This isn’t just because of the convention’s singular scale and hype – for many, it’s a chance to compete and have their talents recognized, even outside their country! The Supanova Cosplay Odyssey is the ultimate challenge for top cosplayers in the Land Down Under, serving as a national championship circuit as heats are held at each event on the Supanova calendar. The ultimate winner from among these champions earns a huge suite of prizes, including travel to Dragon Con in the US and entry into the world-class cosplay competition there! It’s a massive goal for many cosplayers around Australia, and just by watching a Supanova cosplay contest you can see how much it means to them.
No less fiercely anticipated are the gaming and esports events which have become an increasingly high-profile part of Supanova in recent years. The convention actually rebranded to “Supanova Comic Con & Gaming” as its official title, and that significant commitment to the gaming world has been realised through advance demos of upcoming games and partnerships with high-end hardware suppliers. While the specific lineup of esports content and competitions varies between Supanovas, visiting gamers can feel confident that there’ll always be something exciting taking place centre stage at the convention.
NOVA A DULL MOMENT!
Supanova is the model of a successful fan convention, combining a great ability to bring in compelling guest cards with a dedicated, visible fan community on display through intense contests and the creator’s showcase of The Alley. The Australian community brings out their best for the Supanova expo in every city, and following the tour gives you a fantastic taste of not just the local geek culture, but what the country itself has to offer.
After some time off for Covid, Supanova is getting back to full swing (thank you pop culture gods).
The currently announced schedule looks like this:
- Melbourne 22-23rd May
- Sydney 19-20th June
- Perth 26-27th June
- Brisbane 6-7th November
- Adelaide 13-14th November
And in even more bodacious news, Gold Coast has been announced for April 2022.
With international travel restricted due to Covie, Supanova has worked to bring Aussie guests to their panels – and it’s paying off. With superstars like Miranda Otto and David Wenham set to appear, there’s plenty of epic content to consume and autographs to snap up!