What is Otafest?

Otafest was born in 1999 when the University of Calgary’s Dedicated Otaku Anime Club decided to have a 1 day film festival showing Japanese Animation (anime) to the public.

Over the next decade, Otafest has grown to become a three day festival with approximately 8,000 attendees annually. The festival is run by a non-profit organization (Otafest Film and Cultural Festival Planning Committee), and while we still showcase anime, it is just a part of the festival experience.

Otafest is an annual conference for anime enthusiasts. We act as a creative outlet for fans, an occasion where they can show their passion and appreciation of the hobby. We are an event where fans can show off the costumes they have made, the music videos they have created, and the art they have painted and drawn. Otafest is a forum for discussion and education. We host educational panels introducing others to the basics of the Japanese language and tips on how to use computer programs to enhance music videos and CG art. In the past, we have hosted guests who explained the process of donning a kimono, demonstrated the intricacies of tea ceremonies, and Iaido (the art of drawing a sword from a scabbard). We have also invited individuals involved in the voice acting and animation industries to speak of their experiences.

Otafest is a marketplace. We gather dozens of vendors together from all over Western Canada to facilitate the best bargain hunting in town. And, of course, we haven’t forgotten our roots: Otafest is an anime festival.

We bring the latest shows and videos, as well as the fondest classics, and provide an opportunity for fans to see anime on the big screen as well as a chance for the curious to see what it’s all about. We provide a chance for fans to get together and celebrate their hobby, and to share their passions with each other.

Each year, we host charity events and fundraisers during the festival to be donated to that year’s selected charity. Dedicated rooms such as the Maid Cafe donate their proceeds to the charity as well.

Otafest takes patron safety seriously. Our Policy Enforcement, Emergency Management, and Internal Operations teams work to proactively create safety procedures and a safe environment for everybody at the festival. We have trained medical responders on staff and our teams are able to respond to any situation in which they are required.

We hope to see you this year!

Justin Lo



Otafest is a Calgary based non-profit organization expressing the values of charity, quality, and transparency. The body of our activity pertains to the promotion of Japanese art, culture, and media in the Canadian community, and our organization rests firmly on the spirit of community collaboration and volunteerism.

Otafest Aurora

Otafest Aurora is a one day festival held at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology). It is the successor to Otafest Lite, a festival held from 2009 to 2011.

Otafest Aurora was created in response to feedback from our attendees who wanted a better winter festival. Our team was challenged to provide new experiences that would be exclusive to Aurora while expanding the events that our attendees are familiar with and love. Otafest Aurora will feature many vendors, a larger artists alley, cosplay, as well as panels and showings. New to our winter festival is a gala dinner and dance, a formal event that is sure to add a level of class never seen before.

Creating Otafest Aurora gave us an opportunity to add a new face to represent our team. Persephone’s best friend, Aurora will work to promote the winter festival. While Seph represents the history and traditions of Otafest, Aurora represents the energy, creativity, and enthusiasm of Otafest and all of it’s participants.

Attendance & Charitable Efforts

Otafest Attendees have made charitable donations to various causes through various fundraising drives and activities. These have included the great “head-shaving” initiative of 2010, and the infamous “let’s-put-the-chairman-in-a-dress” fundraising drive of 2011. We are very proud of our community for coming together and donating to great causes!

FestivalDatesAttendanceFunds RaisedDonated To
Otafest 1999Jul 3 – 4, 1999Approx. 700
Otafest 2000Jun 17 – 18, 2000Approx. 900
Otafest 2001Sep 15 – 16, 2001Approx. 700
Otafest 2002May 24 – 26, 2002(not tracked)
Otafest 2003May 24 – 25, 2003(not tracked)
Otafest 2004May 15 – 16, 2004(not tracked)
Otafest 2005May 21 – 22, 2005(not tracked)
Otafest 2006May 21 – 22, 2006(not tracked)
Otafest 2007May 19 – 20, 20072,709
Otafest 2008May 16 – 18, 20084,278
Otafest 2009May 15 – 17, 20094,361$ 1,735Alberta Children’s Hospital
Otafest Lite 2009Nov 14, 2009Approx. 900$ 5,000Mustard Seed
Otafest 2010May 21 – 23, 20103,697$ 5,300Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Otafest Lite 2010Nov 13, 2010Approx. 800$ 2,000Children’s Cottage Society
Otafest 2011May 20 – 22, 20114,135$10,398Japan Red Cross
Otafest Lite 2011Nov 12, 2011Approx. 700$ 1,000Autism Aspergers Friendship Society of Calgary
Otafest 2012May 18 – 20, 20124,938$11,000Calgary Humane Society
Otafest Aurora 2012Dec 15, 2012843
Otafest 2013May 17 – 19, 20134,947$ 12,474Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary Branch
Otafest Aurora 2013Nov 30, 20131,716$ 2,300Seniors Secret Service
Otafest 2014May 16 – 18, 20147,787$13,500Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society
Otafest Aurora 2014Nov 29, 20142,040$ 1,500Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary
Otafest 2015May 15 – 17, 20158,990$10,100Distress Centre Calgary
Otafest Aurora 2015Nov 13 – 14, 20152,542$ 1,500Children’s Cottage Society
Otafest 2016Jul 1 – 3, 20167,995$10,000United Way of Calgary