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A Star Trek fan in cosplay outside of Comic-Con International on Saturday, July 22, 2023.
A Star Trek fan in cosplay outside of Comic-Con International on Saturday, July 22, 2023.

Comic-Con 2024: Top offsite events that don't require a badge

San Diego Comic-Con returns July 25-28. While not everyone managed to get a badge this year, there's still plenty to enjoy.

KPBS has put together a list of top events and activities in different categories to help you dive into the pop culture celebration — without a Comic-Con badge. There's cosplay, comics, gaming, music, art, food, drink, fandom gatherings and more.

Studios and celebrities are due to return to Comic-Con 2024 — and so is the fandom we all know and love. Read stories, watch videos and check out events from the world's largest pop culture convention.

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Cosplay and pop culture

San Diego Central Library Cosplay Repair Station

Sewing machines, 3D printers, soldering irons, adhesive and other materials to meet all your cosplay quick-fix and repair needs will be available for free at the San Diego Central Library's fourth floor Central IDEA Lab. This year, they're also offering comic-themed "makes," or small creative DIY projects.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, July 25-27, and 1-4 p.m. Sunday, July 28. San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd. Free.

Her Universe Fashion Show

Her Universe, the fandom fashion line by actress Ashley Eckstein, celebrates its 10th anniversary at San Diego Comic-Con with a runway show presented by Mattel at the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel. Watch this year's applicants compete in this "geek couture" fashion competition, where two winners will earn the opportunity to create a fashion collection with Her Universe.

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6 p.m. Thursday, July 25, Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel in the Harbor Ballroom, 1 Market Place, San Diego. Admission TBD.

Gaming

A Day with Matt Forbeck, sponsored by MAVERiC Studio

Dungeons & Dragons fans can join game master Matt Forbeck, co-writer Marty Forbeck and other D&D legends on stage at UC San Diego Park & Market, part of their free Comic-Con events series. It's in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons.

12-9 p.m. Thursday, July 25. UC San Diego Park & Market, 1100 Market St. Free.

Comic-Con Special: Bloomburrow Sealed Deck Prerelease

Visitors are welcome to join the Bloomburrow world at Bards & Cards Game Shop. Participants will receive a pre-release pack to construct their decks.

6-10 p.m. Friday, July 26. Bards & Cards Game Shop. 936 Fifth Ave., San Diego.

Bob’s Burgers Trivia

Fans of "Bob's Burgers" can join a themed trivia event at the Marriott Marquis & Marina in San Diego. Hosted by Tinapocalypse and From North to Wharf, the event offers a fun way for fans to connect and test their knowledge.

8 p.m. Thursday, July 25. Marriott Marquis and Marina, 333 W Harbor Drive, San Diego.

Movies/entertainment

Paramount+'s The Lodge Pop-up

The Paramount+ activation outside Comic-Con this year will feature Nickelodeon and Paramount+ new releases and favorites, including "Spongebob Squarepants," "Yellowjackets" and "Star Trek: Discovery." A standby line is offered if tickets are sold out.

6-10 p.m. Wednesday; 12-10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 24-28. Happy Does Bar, 340 Fifth Ave.

Peanuts 'Animated' Pop-Up Shop

Snoopy is celebrating 75 years this year, and in addition to the pup's panels and special events inside Comic-Con, there's also an activation outside, with giant-wall screenings of Apple TV+'s "Camp Snoopy" episodes and "A Charlie Brown Christmas." A shop will also sell cute Peanuts merch, like dancing Peanuts character magnets; banners with iconic phrases like "Everything I touch gets ruined"; soundtracks on vinyl and more.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. 200 J. St., Ste. 105. Free.

Star Trek (2009) with San Diego Symphony

The San Diego Symphony is performing the score of Star Trek (2009) live, synchronized with the film. Experience the epic adventure of the USS Enterprise crew as the symphony's rendition of Michael Giacchino’s music brings the film to life.

7:30 p.m.; gates open at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday July 24, Epstein Family Amphitheater, 9480 Innovation Lane, La Jolla. $30-$120.

Batman (1989) in Concert

Join Bat-fans for an electrifying evening as a live symphony performs the score of "Batman" live, synchronized with the film. Experience Gotham City like never before, with the orchestra's powerful music enhancing the movie's dramatic and action-packed scenes.

8- 10 p.m., Friday, July 26, Civic Theatre,1100 Third Ave., San Diego. Tickets prices vary.

Immersive Space at #FXSDCC

FX has something special for Comic-Con goers with a series of pop-ups. Experience "The Bear" restaurant for exclusive merch, ride the spine-chilling FX Fearless Hellevator through "American Horror Story" moments, pose at Paddy’s Pub from "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia," and visit the Vampire Residence from "What We Do in the Shadows."

11 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursday, July 25- Saturday, July 27; 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, July 28, Hilton Bayfront Lawn, 1 Park Blvd., San Diego.

Petco Park Interactive Zone

Just down the street from the Convention Center, Petco Park will host a number of activities and activations. Fans of Nintendo, Star Trek, Hello Kitty, "GHOSTS" and Netflix's "Exploding Kittens" will all have immersive experiences to visit.

Opens at 10 a.m., Sunday, July 21-Wednesday, July 24. "Exploding Kittens" activation July 25-28. Park Blvd & Imperial Ave., San Diego. Free.

Panels and workshops

San Diego Public Library Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians

A free series of off-site panels and discussions for educators, librarians, parents, readers and anyone interested in the intersection of comics and learning. Comic-Con badges are not required and the public can reserve a seat online in advance.

Wednesday July 24: 4-6 p.m. Teaching with Comics Workshop

Thursday, July 25: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.: Library Group Panels

Friday, July 26: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.: Publisher Panels

Saturday, July 27: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.: Educator Panels

Sunday, July 28: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Higher Ed Panels

UC San Diego Park & Market Presents XR Games Masterclass: The Climate Games

The first installment of a free, two-day masterclass on game creation skill building, this event helps participants build a multiplayer VR game involving swords, using UE5 and Quest3 technology.

10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, July 26. UC San Diego Park & Market, 1100 Market St., Free.

The greatest Anime Pioneer in Japan you never heard of: Osamu Tezuka Story

UC San Diego academic and "Sea Strike 2041" executive producer Rachel Costello will detail the life and work of prolific manga artist, animator and cartoonist Osamu Tezuka, sometimes referred to as "the Godfather of Manga." Part of UC San Diego Park & Market's free Comic-Con series.

2:20-4:30 p.m. Friday, July 26. UC San Diego Park & Market, 1100 Market St. Free.

Art

'Spare Parts' - An Art Toys Exhibition by Gomez Customs

At the Chicano Park Museum in Barrio Logan (a stop down the Blue Line trolley from the Convention Center), a new exhibit features custom-made art toys and action figures. Local artist Marino Gomez has made his own obscure characters, Padres players, accessories like a landscaping truck and more. Gomez draws on a practice called "kitbashing," where artists take apart existing toys and make something different — in some cases entirely new inventions, or bootlegging a character or item that doesn't otherwise exist in toy form.

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Chicano Park Museum, 1960 National Ave., Barrio Logan. $3 for Barrio Logan residents; $8 general admission. 18 and under are free.

Comic-Con art show

The Comic-Con Art Show showcases a diverse array of original artwork, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, and jewelry from professional and amateur artists. Visitors can view and purchase pieces through silent auctions or quick sales, with highlights including nominated works for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.

11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Thursday, July 25; 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. Friday, July 26; 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday July 27 - July 28. Manchester Grand Hyatt, 1 Market Place, San Diego. Free

Food and drink

The BoxLunch

BoxLunch is bringing back their “Treats Truck” to San Diego Comic-Con, offering fans sweets, swag and grab bags filled with fandom accessories. On July 27, they will host a special “FiGPiN Day” event featuring rare artist proof pins and more surprises.

10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. July 25-27, 2024 (Thursday to Saturday); 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. July 28 (Sunday), Southeast corner of First St. & J St., San Diego.

Freddy’s Funtastic Voyage

Dive into an unforgettable evening of food, games, and entertainment, with each attendee receiving an exclusive "Box of Fun."

Doors open at 6:00 p.m., entertainment starts at 8:00 p.m., Friday, July 26 and Sat., July 27, Manchester Grand Hyatt steps, 1 Market Place, San Diego.

Superhero Tea

Costumed superheroes and comic book fans can enjoy the finer things in life at this high tea feast at the Westgate Hotel's Grand Lobby. Expect fancy sandwiches and cakes, gourmet teas, a photo backdrop and a live harpist. Parking in the hotel's garage is $16, and reservations for the high tea are $59 for adults and $35 for children aged 2-12, plus tax. Dietary restrictions can be accommodated.

1-5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, July 24-28. The Westgate Hotel, 1055 Second Ave., $35-$59.

Lumpia Deep Fried Universe Comic-Book Release

Kid Heroes Productions is back at San Diego Comic-Con 2024 with exclusive content and events. Enjoy three evenings of pop-ups, exclusive releases and mixers hosted at the Gaslamp Lumpia Factory. They are currently holding a Kickstarter for their first non-Lumpia comic book though, titled "The Ones and Twos."

Thursday-Sunday, July 25-27, Gaslamp Lumpia Factory, 423 F St. Free.

Music

Mosh Eisley

The Star Wars-inspired emo and punk rock celebration is back for San Diego Comic-Con, promising another year of galactic fun. Attendees can enjoy live music, creative costumes and an immersive atmosphere at the Music Box San Diego.

9 p.m., doors open at 8:00 p.m., Friday, July 26, Music Box, 1337 India St. $66.63.

Matrix Themed EDM Night

Red pill or blue pill? Step into a Matrix-inspired realm at this electrifying EDM night, where futuristic beats and immersive visuals create an unforgettable rave experience.

8 p.m., Wednesday, July 24, Day N Nite SD, 716 Sixth Ave. Free.

Shrek Rave

Get ready to dance the night away at the Shrek Rave, a whimsical celebration inspired by the beloved ogre.

9 p.m., Friday, July 26, House of Blues, 1055 Fifth Ave. $17-$70.

Ready Party One: Legends Of Fantasy

Saddle up the unicorns and get ready to immerse yourself in a fantastical celebration at Ready Party One: Legends Of Fantasy, where enchanting music and vibrant costumes bring beloved fantasy worlds to life in a classic ‘80s fantasy style. Join fellow fans for a night of unforgettable entertainment and magical experiences.

8 p.m., Wednesday, July 24, Parq Nightclub, 615 Broadway. $35+.

Map of all events

Updated: July 2, 2024 at 3:24 PM PDT
Editor's note: This story will be updated with new information and changes as Comic-Con approaches.
I respect writing as an art of expression. It's my job to execute well-written stories that reflect artistic expression and mirror my core values, which are to clearly and succinctly convey, educate, and entertain my readers with breaking local news and worldly affairs.
Julia Dixon Evans writes the KPBS Arts newsletter, produces and edits the KPBS/Arts Calendar and works with the KPBS team to cover San Diego's diverse arts scene. Previously, Julia wrote the weekly Culture Report for Voice of San Diego and has reported on arts, culture, books, music, television, dining, the outdoors and more for The A.V. Club, Literary Hub and San Diego CityBeat. She studied literature at UCSD (where she was an oboist in the La Jolla Symphony), and is a published novelist and short fiction writer. She is the founder of Last Exit, a local reading series and literary journal, and she won the 2019 National Magazine Award for Fiction. Julia lives with her family in North Park and loves trail running, vegan tacos and live music.
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Studios and celebrities are due to return to Comic-Con 2024 — and so is the fandom we all know and love. Read stories, watch videos and check out events from the world's largest pop culture convention.