Functions & Events

Balticon Functions and Events

In addition to the panels, presentations and workshops you can find described on the Programs page, Balticon offers a variety of dedicated function rooms, cross-track functions and special events.

Index to Balticon Functions and Events

Back to Index ANIME ROOM Back to Top

The Balticon 50 Anime Room, located in Gibson (6th Floor), is open from 6:00 PM Friday through the end of the last feature on Monday, with a one hour break each morning for hotel housekeeping service. The Anime Room shows feature length anime films as well as consecutive episodes of Anime Series films. Between 8 AM and 10 AM (when children’s program opens) we schedule material that is appropriate for all age groups. In general, Anime screenings between 9:00 pm at night and 11:00 pm will not be appropriate for young people under age 13. Screenings between 11:00 pm and 6:00 in the morning should be considered not approprate for children at all, and not appropriate for teens who are not accompanied by a parent or guardian. Screenings before Noon are geared to general audiences. Every effort is made to schedule content between 10 AM and 9 PM which has age appropriateness equivalent to PG or PG-13. See this What Anime Ratings Mean document for more information.


Back to Index ART SHOW Back to Top

The Balticon 50 Art Show is proud to feature the work of Artist Guest of Honor John Picacio. We are also pleased to offer the work of many other artists, including returning GoH Alumni Phil and Kaja Foglio, in a wide variety of media, such as original works in pen and ink, charcoal, pastels, watercolor and oils, sculpture, and handmade crafts and jewelry, as well as limited edition prints.

Visit one of the biggest and best regional art shows on the East Coast featuring SF and fantasy original art and prints, located in Maryland Salons E and F. Most of the works and prints are available for sale, although you will see some works marked “Not for sale – For Exhibit Only”. Artists must pre-register to be included in the art show. For more information or special requests, send a request to artshow AT balticon DOT org

or write to:
Balticon 50 Art Show
905 W. 7th Street, #199
Frederick, MD 21701

Artists, please go to the Art Show web page for more information and registration forms.

Back to Index ARTISTS ALLEY Back to Top

The Balticon Artists Alley, located in the fifth floor hallways outside the Baltimore and Maryland ballrooms brings you live artists along with offerings of their work for sale. Many artists will be working on projects at their tables. Check back frequently to see how their projects are progressing! Tables are curated so that we can offer you a wide range of talented artist’s offerings.

Check here in April for a list of Artists Alley exhibitors.

Artists, please go to the Artists Alley web page for more information.

Back to Index AUTOGRAPHING Back to Top

Balticon provides any scheduled program participant who wishes it with one hour of shared table space for signing autographs. Autograph sessions at Balticon are always no-fee signings. We encourage participants to purchase authors’ and artists’ works at Balticon (the Dealers Room is in and around the Baltimore Ballroom) and have them autographed!

This year we are trying a different approach to autographing. Each day there will be an autograph session in one of the larger function rooms with up to 35 professionals signing for over an hour. You can follow the path through the room and get a lot of autographs in a short period of time. There will still be a smaller autograph location at the conversation corner between the Dealers Roomn and Art Show for those whose schedules won’t mesh with the big sessions.

There will be some signings in the Dealers Room. Check with each dealer for schedules.

There are, of course, rules. You may bring 2 pieces for each autographer to sign. To expedite traffic flow, we ask that you follow the designated route through the room. You may bring a small wheeled tote with you that will cover no more than a 15″x15″ floor area when at rest. We do not have a place for you to store additional items and suggest that you either leave them with a friend/family member or plan to go back to your room for them.

Artist Guest of Honor John Picacio will be signing at his Artist Alley table and will have his signing schedule posted there.

Guest of Honor George R. R. Martin’s autograph sessions on Saturday and Sunday are ticketed. A Balticon member may get ONE ticket to ONE of Mr. Martin’s autograph sessions and may have ONE item autographed. We will provide volunteers to help you take photographs. Tickets to the Saturday session will be available on Friday evening at the Reg Packet desk across from Registration. Tickets to the Sunday session will be available on Saturday evening at the same location. Your badge number and name will be recorded when you get your ticket.

If you are not able to get a ticket to one of Mr. Martin’s autograph sessions, please note that a small quantity of the Balticon 50 limited edition novella “In the House of the Worm,” by George R. R. Martin (with cover and internal illustrations by Artist Guest of Honor John Picacio) will be available at the Balticon sales desk in the Art Show. In addition, there will be a limited quantity of signed copies of the George R. R. Martin edition of Galaxy’s Edge magazine at the publisher’s dealer table in the Dealers Annex area of the Baltimore Ballroom foyer.

See the Schedules page for the dates and times authors, artists, podcasters and others will sit for autograph signings at Balticon 50.

Back to Index BSFS Books for Kids Back to Top

For the 18th year in a row, a charity auction will be held at Balticon. There will be SF&F collectibles, memorabilia and other exotic items put on the block.

BSFS Books for Kids gifts funds raised to the PTA of the selected school for the purchase of books ordered by students for personal recreational reading. The books will become the personal property of the students. In additon, BSFS Books for Kids collects book donations for local school libraries, as requested by their resident librarians.

The Bobby Gear Memorial Charity Auction at Balticon 50will be raising money so that BSFS Books for Kids can provide book purchase funding for the students of one or more selected Baltimore City schools.

Items for the auction are donated by both individuals and companies and generally have a SF or fantasy theme. Author- and artist-signed books, art work, games, and SF collectables are very popular donated items, as are one of a kind jewelry pieces. Please remember that this auction provides books to children to encourage them (and their families) to read. Bid generously!

Friday, approximately 10:00 PM The Bobby Gear Memorial Charity Auction at Balticon Maryland Ballroom
Salons C and D
Sunday, approximately 3:00 PM The Bobby Gear Memorial Charity Auction at Balticon, Part II Guilford Room

The auction at Balticon is held during the masquerade half-time while the judges deliberate and the audience waits to hear the winners. Part II of the auction is held on Sunday following the art auction. Items available for auction are displayed in the Art Show. To donate items for the auction throughout the year, or for other details about the auction in any given year, please contact BooksForKids AT Balticon DOT org.

If you have something to donate to the auction, you can send it to us now or bring it to Balticon, where donations can be dropped off at the Convention Operations desk at the end of the hallway on the lower level just past the Art Show. Contact Auction Coordinator Kelly Shannon Pierce at BooksForKids AT Balticon DOT org to make arrangements to send your donation or have us pick it up.

BSFS Books for Kids is currently collecting new and used book donations for the libraries of seveal schools in Baltimore City. They are in need of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance and Poetry books, as well as less challenging books like Goosebumps, Sweet Valley High, etc. for reading competency levels from grade 3 on (ages 8 and up).

You may drop-off book donations for the schools at the Info desk, the Volunteers Desk and at Convention Operations.

Thank you for supporting youth literacy in Maryland!

Back to Index CONCERTS Back to Top

The Music/Filk Program at Balticon offers many hours of musical entertainment.

THE BALTICON 50 CONCERT SCHEDULE will be posted soon.
Back to Index CON SUITE Back to Top

Balticon offers its members a traditional convention hospitality suite with soda and snack foods in a congenial atmosphere designed to promote casual conversation. In addition, look for special events like late night concerts and book launches in the Con Suite!

Back to Index CONTESTS and AWARDS Back to Top

Compton Crook Award
honors the best first novel of the year written by an individual author (collaborations are not eligible) in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genre. Compton Crook, who used the nom de plume Stephen Tall, died in 1981. He was a long time Baltimore resident, Towson University professor, and, of course, a science fiction author. Since its inception, this award conferred by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society has been presented at Balticon. Balticon hosts the author of the winning novel as a Compton Crook Guest at Balticon for two years — the first year to receive the award (and the nice check that accompanies it), and the second year to give that year’s award to the incoming winning author. For more information, visit the Compton Crook Award website.

BSFS Amateur Writing Contest

promotes the creation of quality genre literature in the state of Maryland. Winners are announced at Capclave in the fall and invited to be introduced and read from their work at Balticon the following spring and the winning stories are included in the BSFan. We encourage entry by any amateur writer 18 or over, who is currently a Maryland residents or a student at a MD two or four year college. Entrants cannot be a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America nor can they have been published in a professional science fiction/fantasy magazine.For complete information, see the Amateur Writing Contest web page.

BSFS Poetry Contest

awards three prizes for poems up to 50 lines in length which address the themes of science fiction/fantasy/horror/science. For more information, see the BSFS Poetry web page.

BSFS Amateur Writing Contest

The 2016 BSFS Amateur Writing Contest will open April 1 and run until June 17 at 11:59 p.m. Good luck to everyone who enters this year! See rules and entry detailes at BSFS Amateur Writing Contest

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society holds its annual Amateur Writing Contest to promote the creation of quality genre literature in the state of Maryland. Anything that falls into the “speculative fiction” genre–science fiction and fantasy in all their forms–is welcome. Urban fantasy, hard science fiction, dark fantasy, it all counts as long as the work has a speculative element.

“Before I placed in the contest, I didn’t really take myself seriously as a writer; writing was one of those things that I enjoyed and did when I got around to it, but I never went out of my way to make time for it and I didn’t really think of myself as a writer. Placing in the contest, attending Capclave, and participating at Balticon changed all that. I take my writing much more seriously now. I think I’ve written as much in the past 18 months than in the preceding 5 years or so. I’m even about 40,000 words into the rough draft of a novel, which I don’t think ever would have happened without getting the extra push for BSFS. You mentioned in the page for the original contest that you wanted to help amateurs reach the next level, and you absolutely did that for me.” – Rachel Kolar, 2013’s second place winner

BSFS Robert A. Heinlein Award

BSFS has been involved with the Robert A. Heinlein Award since its inception in 2003. The award is conferred “…for outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings to inspire the human exploration of space”. The Award is presented at Balticon. For more information, visit the BSFS Heinlein Award web page. This years Robert A. Heinlein award recipient, Kim Stanley Robinson, will be with us to receive the award and celebrate our 50th anniversary with us.

Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest

sponsored by BSFS, honors young writers between the ages of 14 and 18. Contest submissions must be in the field of science fiction or fantasy. Contestants must reside in or attend school in Maryland, and be no older than 18 years of age as of the date of Balticon. Submissions must be no more than 2500 words in length. The first, second and third place winners are invited to and announced at Balticon. Please see the BSFS Young Writer’s contest rules web page for the full rules or contact BSFS for a hard copy.

Back to Index DANCE Back to Top

Balticon has worked hard to establish a tradition of offering dance and other music and movement events. At our new venue in 2016 we have a dedicated Dance Hall! Watch these pages for events such as Susan de Guardiola’s Steampunk Ball, ballroom dance classes with Dance Master Alex Jacobs, Swing Dance with Iver Cooper, hula-hooping to music with Patches and Maugorn, period dances, and other music and movement events. Check the Schedules page for the Dance Events Schedule.

Back to Index DEALERS ROOM Back to Top

The Balticon DEALER’S ROOM features tables with everything a Fan might want, from hard-to-find books to ancient weapons, costumes, collectibles, models and more. This year, the room will be open late Sunday and until 2 pm Monday. See the Dealers Room page for a list of vendors (COMING SOON) and for information about becoming a vendor at Balticon. Because we have less space at our new venue, we will extend the Dealers Room to include an Authors Alley in the Baltimore Ballroom Foyer.


For the 14th consecutive year, BSFS sponsors The Balticon Short Film Festival. Formerly held on Sunday night, the Short Film Festival is expanding  it’s hours, screening about six hours of entries in approximately 2-hour increments on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Balticon 50. The Film Festival presents animated and live action science fiction, fantasy, and horror films from independent filmmakers all over the world. The focus of the Balticon Short Film Festival (BSFF) is on independently produced science fact, science fiction, fantasy and horror live action and animation projects under 52 minutes run time, which have been completed no earlier than in the two years prior to the festival year. This is a competitive festival with winners in three categories (Animated, Live Action, and Music) determined by audience rating. Award ribbons and/or certificates are given for audience favorite animated, live action and specialty films (science fact, music videos). For entry guidelines and forms, or for more information about the Balticon Film Festival, go to the Film Festival page.

In addition, the BSFF seeks to support the work of independent filmmakers by premiering an independently produced feature-length film on Friday night and we are open to considering a family-friendly premiere for Saturday afternoon. We hope to bring you other independent feature-length and short films as time and space allow.

We accept proposals for film premieres and other feature films as well as film festival submissions year-round.

Friday, 9 – 11:30 PM Doors open for seating for Balticon 50 Short Film Festival New Garden Room
(MD Salon B)
Saturday, 4 – 5:30 PMX Balticon 50 Short Film Festival New Garden Room
(MD Salon B)
Sunday, 3:45 – 5:30 PM Balticon 50 Short Film Festival New Garden Room
(MD Salon B)

Make your opinion count! Doors open 10-20 minutes before screenings. Please note that films shown after 9:00 pm may not be appropriate for children under 13 without an accompanying adult. Please make sure you pick up a ballot on your way into the screening room.

After May 15, 2016, see this year’s screening schedule on the Schedules page.


Bring your own game or play one of ours — we’ll be open from 4:00 pm until 2 am Friday, from 9:00 am through 2 am on Saturday and Sunday nights and from 9:00 am until close of con on Monday. If you have a miniatures or other games you would like to schedule during the 2:00 am to 8:00 overnight, write to Donna to negotiate arrangements.

Join us for a Munchkin Tournament on Saturday night at 9PM, and for the nightly game of Social Class, the official game of BSFS.


While you are enjoying Balticon dressed to the nines, stop by to have your photo taken for the Hall Costume Contest. Then tell everyone you see to go vote for you! The winners get prizes! The Hall Costume Contest has traditionally been open Saturday and Sunday. For Balticon’s Golden Anniversary, Brian is back with an expanded contest in the Baltimore Ballroom Foyer — right outside the Dealers Room. He will be open Friday from 4 to 9 PM, Saturday from 10 AM to 8 PM, and Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM. Costumes entered in the Saturday Masquerade are not eligible to compete in the Hall Costume Contest. If you want a copy of your posted contest photo, let Brian know and he will be happy to print one for you. If you want a larger copy of the photo, please offer him a few dollars to offset the cost of ink and paper. Balticon does not reimburse his expenses.

Back to Index KAFFEEKLATSCHES Back to Top

Kaffeeklatsches offer an opportunity to chat with Guests in a more intimate setting. Sign-up sheets are located at the Information Desk near New Garden, across from Registration. See the Schedules page for the Kaffeeklatsche schedule.

Back to Index LARP (Live Action Role Playing) Back to Top

Join us at Balticon 50 for the LARP’s seventh year on Saturday and Sunday. LARP will have a dedicated location at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel for Balticon 50. (No applause, please. Just throw money.) Opening Ceremonies are on Saturday, 11:00 am-12:30 pm in the James Room on the 6th floor. The Game starts 1:00 pm Saturday in the James Room. The James Room will be open for LARP until 9:50 pm Saturday and Sunday nights (at 10 pm the room is turned over for Open Filk). Closing Ceremonies will be held in the James Room on Monday from 10:00 am – 11:00 am.

The LARP schedule will be on the Schedules page.

Back to Index MASQUERADE Back to Top

On Saturday night Balticon hosts one of the oldest masquerades on the East Coast. Marvel at the participants crafting of fabric and other materials into imaginative and extraordinary costumes. The Masquerade is not just for experienced costumers either — Hall Costumes and first-timers are encouraged to get up on stage and share their work. The masquerade competition will be judged on the experience skills division system to give beginners a chance to go home winners. Info: e-mail or check “Masquerade” on the registration form. Check the Baltimore Science Fiction Society website for the Masquerade rules.

Back to Index MINIATURES GAMING Back to Top


Bring your favorite game to Miniatures Gaming Parlor 10029. Reserve a table to play, or come up and play one we already have set up and ready to roll. See the Schedules page for the pre-con Miniatures Games schedule. See the flipboard in the parlor for reserved table information.

Back to Index PARTIES Back to Top


NOTE:  ALL parties, including PRIVATE parties, MUST be registered with the Balticon Party Czar.

Let’s keep the fun going into the night! If you are interested in throwing a room party at Balticon 50, to support your convention, your Worldcon bid, or just because you want to invite people in to have some fun, we’d love to have you. Please email for details.

Open parties will be registered and grouped in one area easily accessible to everyone. Registering your open party will ensure that you are covered by Balticon’s corkage agreement (allowing you to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks), and that your neighbors don’t mind the noise generated. Parties will be open until 2:00 am. Alcohol is not permitted at open room parties.

There is a $50.00 for the weekend party cleaning fee that the hotel will add to your bill for hosting open room parties. This one time fee is $50.00 for one, two or three nights of hosting an open party. NOTE:  If your party causes damage to hotel property, the hotel WILL charge you for the damage, so we recommend that you manage your party with your long-range budget picture in mind.

If you plan on holding a private party, let us know at party{at}balticon{dot}org; we will put you with the other parties so you can stay up all night talking and laughing without worrying about potential noise complaints. If your room is in the party area, but you are not throwing an open party, you will not be charged the additional cleaning fee. Open party rooms must be confirmed with hotel before April 24, 2016, or the hotel may reject the request for such a room. Please check the box on the registration form if you would like to receive the open-party information packet or send mail to Following these rules means we can continue holding open room parties at Balticon.

Back to Index RPG GAMING Back to Top


Located in Watertable Salon A, the RPG Gaming Salon will be offering both open table reservations and hosted games. See the flipboard on the center table to reserve a table or see what upcoming games have open seats. See the Schedules page for the pre-con RPG Games schedule.

Back to Index VIDEO ROOM Back to Top

Balticon 50 again offers an expanded Video Room schedule. In addition to the regular video schedule, Video will continue to offer movies from midnight through early morning. The video room is located in Parlor 11059 on the eleventh floor.

See the Schedule posted outside Video Room.


Balticon is an all-volunteer managed and staffed convention and we can always use more help. Show your SF community spirit by volunteering a few hours at the con. Volunteers who work more than 10 hours receive our exclusive volunteer T-shirt. Work more than 20 hours and next year’s Balticon membership is comped. Sign up via email, at the convention or check the Volunteering box on the registration form. And if you decide not to volunteer, take a moment to say thank you to those who do! This convention wouldn’t exist without them.

Back to Index WORKSHOPS Back to Top

Balticon brings you a variety of workshops in the Anime, Art, Children’s, Costuming, Gaming, Literary:Writing, and Filmmaking program tracks. See the Schedules page for the Workshops Schedule.

Poetry Workshop

The annual Balticon Poetry Workshop is facilitated by award-winning poets and poetry editors! Work with these instructors and other poets to develop technique and learn to critique your own work.

Writers’ Workshop

For those who want to improve your writing skills in the areas of science fiction and fantasy, the workshop is a place and time to discuss ideas, debate styles and comment on each others’ work. From year to year, we look at various aspects of writing:

Opening lines
Character development
Story structure

In addition, we also discuss and debate those things that make SF&F different from ‘mainsteam’ literature: story ideas ranging from the dawn of time through the future, parallel worlds, civilizations human and non-human, technology advancing and threatening; settings near and far, on this planet and others, running across dimensions, travelling through the past and future; characters that are human, non-human, organic, inorgranic, physical and spiritual; settings ranging from worlds the size of a microbe to civilizations spanning galaxies. Yet all these connecting to us as people.

Having trouble with your short stories? We can work with you. Not sure how to write a novel? Talk to others who have done one or two. Wondering how to approach an editor, or how to write a cover letter? Let us help you. We don’t guarantee story sales, but we do what we can to help you. If you have questions, write to writersworkshop AT bsfs DOT org. Coordinator Steve Lubbs looks forward to hearing from you.

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