Manifest (Melbourne Anime Festival) is a three-day festival celebrating anime, video games, manga and Japanese culture. From its humble beginnings back in 1998 as an anime screenings festival, Manifest has now grown to epic proportions - a place for thousands of fans to meet and have fun.
What should I do at Manifest?
Each day there will be screenings, panels, competitions and other events. It's a good idea to get to Manifest as close to the start time as possible, as there is plenty to do and see, and the lines for panels, in particular, can be horrendous. Rock up, grab your tickets, and check the day's schedule to see what's on - some events will require you bring tickets (don't worry - there are no extra fees for seeing panels or events, these tickets are just used to make sure the first people to turn up get seats).
Don't head straight to the traders' hall. As one of the big draws of Manifest, it will be absolutely packed with people trying to buy merchandise. However, if you wait until late Saturday or Sunday to start purchasing things you might find that vendors have lowered their prices, or are more open to haggling.
It's beneficial to pre-order tickets, as they are slightly cheaper than buying them on the day. Tickets can be bought here. Prices vary greatly depending on the level of access, whether you are an adult or a child, and whether or not you want a day pass or a weekend pass. However, generally it will be around $30 for a day ticket and $60 for a weekend ticket. As I said, there's a heap to do each day so even if you think you might only be able to pop in two days it's a good idea to save money and buy the weekend ticket.
Is there enough to do for three days?
Ideally you should go in every day of the festival to make the most of your experience, unless you can't due to work. The screenings and panels are different every day, and some vendors do not set up stalls the entire weekend, instead preferring to just open on Saturday and Sunday. However, it is a lot quieter on Friday so if you are able to go in I'd recommend it, as the lines for events are not too bad.
How do I get there?
The Manifest website has some great ideas for travel arrangements. However, I have found the easiest way to get there is by catching a train. If you can get to Flinders Street, they will be running a special train to Melbourne Showgrounds. You'll know which train it is because it will be filled by cosplayers.