Halifax’s first fan convention was held on March 17, 1977 at Dalhousie University. The festival was originally named HalyCon. In 1978, a group of enthusiasts launched the Halcon Science Fiction Society and renamed the convention to Halcon. The event continued to be held annually until 1987. After that, Halifax and all of Atlantic Canada were left without a geek convention.
The Halcon convention was revived in 2010 by an entirely new group of organizers under the name Hal-Con. Hal-Con’s organizing committee pursues the same aim as the original team, to bring pop culture fans together for fun, but uses modern convention practices. Unlike many other fan conventions, Hal-Con is not owned by a large entertainment company. It is a not-for-profit event run by volunteers.
The first “new” Hal-Con was held from October 29–31, 2010 at the Lord Nelson Hotel. It attracted about 1500 attendees, which was more than the organizers had expected. The convention featured appearances by celebrity guests including actors Walter Koenig (Star Trek: The Original Series) and Denise Crosby (Star Trek: The New Generation) as well as writers, comic book authors and television personalities.
The convention’s attendance has grown over the years, reaching 8,000 visitors in 2015. Hal-Con moved to the World Trade and Convention Center and the adjacent Scotiabank Center to accommodate its growing attendance. In 2016, the organizers announced that the event would move to the new Halifax Convention Center scheduled to open in 2017.
Hal-Con’s program is similar to that of other fan convention. It features panels, Q&A sessions, autograph sessions and photo-ops with celebrity guests, lectures, readings, film and anime screenings, Artists Alley, charity auction, masquerade, costume contest, gaming tournaments, live theater, instructional workshops and seminars, debates, and more. Profits from the charity auction go to Kids Help Phone and the IWK Children’s Hospital.
Hal-Con has an official mascot named Nelson. Nelson, originally named Nee, is a small purple alien from the Planet Teebius that lives inside a robot shaped like the Halifax Town Clock. Nelson appears at each convention and at every community event possible.