From the Game of Thrones-esque medieval festival to an entire neighborhood that assiduously celebrates the glory of Harry Potter every year, this list is the ultimate geekfest guidebook.

It’s a popular hypothesis that nerds/geeks (we still don’t know the difference) will someday take over the world. So if you’re planning to join forces with the dark side, at least do it while cosplaying. The Sherp found some pretty incredible and undeniably nerdgasmic conventions and festivals that every Sci Fi/anime/superhero/fantasy fan must go to to before they die in the forthcoming Apocalypse. (May the odds be ever in your favour.)

1. Abbey Medieval Festival

When: July 11-12, 2015

Where: Queensland, Australia

Why: Nerd Central for fantasy fanatics.

Recognized as a keen and hearty combination of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, this festival is the perfect break from real life. Enter the world of fantasy fiction with jousts, falconry, breaking bread with fellow courtiers and enjoying the good ol’ meat and mead – and maybe some spiced summer wine at the banquet feast. If that doesn’t sound tempting enough, Abbey’s Medieval Museum will light up with puppet shows, gypsy dancing, full-fledged cosplaying and rustic medieval music.

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2. WonderCon

When: March 25-27, 2016

Where: San Francisco

Why: The kickass cosplay. (Need we say more?)

WonderCon Anaheim is a nonprofit organization launched by Comic Con International for people who love and appreciate the world of fiction for what it is. One of the best things about WonderCon is “Artists Alley” featuring mainly comic book artists selling artwork, signing books, and doing sketches – also encouraging fledgling artists to publicize their work by giving them a vast platform. This convention also includes other uber-awesome activities like masquerade contests, comic book sales and more you can check out here.

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3. New York/San Diego Comic Con

When: NY (October 8-11, 2015), SD (July 9-12, 2015)

Where: New York City/San Diego

Why: The absolutely spot-on GoT cosplayers. (See: cover image.)

In the last few years, GoT cosplayers have grown in numbers and in aesthetic grandeur. Some of these costumes are absolutely impeccable, no kidding. But New York as well as San Diego Comic Con both have established themselves as the benchmark for successful geek conventions and hold some other splendid aspects as well. Such as Q&A panels with some of the best names in the industry, autograph signings and exclusive TV show premiere screenings. This is one of those things you just have to experience at least once. Click here to check out some of the best costumes at San Diego CC over the years.

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4. Wizard World Fan Fest

When: January 8-10, 2016

Where: New Orleans

Why: Fans of all kinds.

If you’re even a little bit into nerd culture, you know that there are fandoms that coexist in peace while there are others that’ve been waging a ceaseless cold war since the beginning of time (hold your tongues, Whovians, it’s just an expression). We’re talking about the good old HP vs LOTR and Marvel vs DC kind of conflicts, and that’s where Wizard World Fan Fest comes in. The thing we loved about this festival is that it brings together nerds/geeks/fanpeople of all kinds together. Be it Potterheads, Whovians, Sherlockians, Trekkies and whatever Vampire Diaries fans are called. It’s a great place to meet new people and make some nerdtastic friends.

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5. GeekGirlCon

When: October 10-11, 2015

Where: Seattle, Washington

Why: It’s a celebration of geeky women worldwide! What’s not to love?

GeekGirlCon is a idiosyncratic and heavily woman-oriented (by that we mean in support of women in geek culture media) comic convention that’s held in Seattle annually. It celebrates the legacy and contribution of women to comic books, movies, fantastical fictional worlds and the arts and literature in general. Couple that with major geekiness and some insane costumes and you have a wonderful two-day geekfest with inspiring panel discussions and an environment that can be enjoyed by anyone who supports women in geek culture, be it women themselves, men, children or even a goddamn sexually ambiguous robot. (Ahem, C3PO.)

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6. Space Coast Nerdfest

When: April 16-17, 2016

Where: Melbourne, Florida

Why: Eclecticism at its nerdiest.

SCNF is Florida’s “staple as the only celebration of multi cultures and fandoms” as their website states. They have taken it upon themselves to define the paradigm of being a nerd, which fundamentally means that there is no paradigm as long as you embrace nerd culture and are very, very passionate about something. You can express this passion through creative cosplays and nerding-out (aka fangirling) in public. The third edition of SCNF will be here in early 2016, so stay tuned.

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7. Gallifrey One

When: Febuary 12-14, 2016 (Tickets sold out.)

Where: Los Angeles, California

Why: Because, “trust me, I’m the Doctor”.

Apart from the fact that this is every Doctor Who fan, or Whovian‘s paradise – with actual TV show cast on the panels – this Sci Fi/steampunk festival is one of a kind. It’s a chance to let your inner science fiction nerd out. (I mean, who doesn’t want to time travel?) Gallifrey One’s tickets are already sold out for 2016, but we’re positive it will be back for another edition. Also, some of these costumes, especially the Rose Tyler one, are borderline phenomenal.

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8. Ottawa Geek Market

When: October 3-4, 2015

Where: Ottawa

Why: An well-rounded, cover-all-basis, sort of festival.

Ottawa Geek Market is a simplistic way of bringing together people who have like minded interests (again, aka fangirling). This festival celebrates the attendees “favourite geeky fandoms though shopping, entertainment, video and board gaming, and cosplay. With a focus on sci-fi, fantasy, comics, anime, steampunk, horror and gaming, there’s bound to be something for every geek in your life when you attend a Geek Market event.” If you’re plannin gto nerd-out with one too many friends, then OGM is your place; it has something for everyone.

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9. Anime Expo

When: July 2-5, 2015

Where: Los Angeles, California

Why: The ultimate outlet for anime fans.

This is a place for those of you who appreciate the peculiar beauty and warped but staggeringly real undertones of anime. There’s more to this animation than just well-endowed school girls/warrior princesses/bikini-clad assassins, even though there is some amount of that. Anime Expo is one of the biggest and boldest (in terms of events, cosplay, panels) anime conventions all over the world. It’s definitely a must-visit.

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10. Chestnut Hill’s Harry Potter Festival

When: October 16-17, 2015 (2016 TBA)

Where: Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia

Why: Because this is probably the next best thing after Orlando’s Wizarding World of HP.

Chestnut Hill celebrates a weekend full of Harry Potter annually and with splendour. Featuring some of the famous landmarks of the wizarding world, a Danielle Radcliffe doppelganger, a few hundred Potterheads and the merry Hogsameade-esque vibe that is solely Harry Potter, this festival is everything a nostalgic Potter fan can ask for. Inclusive of Quidditch tournaments, a Horcrux hunt, Defense Against The Dark Arts lessons and other Hogwartz elements that’ll have you going “whoaa!” every few minutes.

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