Tuesday, December 21, 2021

HolMat 2021: We Went To The Christmas Con! And I Have PEEKTURES

Note: Today's post has some PG-13 content in the form of a few risque cosplay photos & some NSFW candy, ha. Enjoy/avoid as you see fit.

It's been 4 years since John and I've been to Holiday Matsuri, aka the Christmas con. Every year we hope to go, but then December happens, we get behind, and poor HolMat gets cut from the schedule.


This year I was determined, dangit, so we crammed a few hours into our over-stuffed schedule and actually made it to Holiday Matsuri last weekend for the first time since 2017. WOOT WOOT! We were only able to stay a few hours, but ohhh, what a few hours. This little holiday con has grown up, y'all. I was so overwhelmed (in a good way) that I couldn't start taking photos for a good 30 minutes; I just staggered around taking it all in.

(Catbus by Allison Chase)

HolMat takes place in an enormous hotel/convention center here in Orlando, and Saturday was slam-packed. Nearly everyone dresses up at this con, which is amazing, and most regulars tend to stay all weekend at the hotel, too, so it has a distinct Dragon Con vibe to it - if Dragon Con was a lot younger and into anime.

Here's that same Hocus Pocus group with flash:

If you're a geek who loves Christmas then this is your con, even if you're not into anime. Most cosplayers add some holiday flair, ranging everywhere from adding a Santa hat to fully re-imagining their character in Christmas colors and fabrics.

It's amazing.

Not only has the con grown in numbers (and WOW has it), the vibe feels older, too. The HolMat regulars are growing up, and there are far more 18+ events now. I think Saturday night had an 18+ cosplay contest, which would explain a few of the costumes you'll see in a bit, haha.

My own outfit for the day:

We brought a couple friends along, who were kind enough to tag along while I chased costumes. (If you know me IRL, then you know going anywhere with me is mostly spent watching me take photos.)

I tried to focus on mostly Christmas mash-ups, since those are my favorite, but really I chased anything that caught my eye:

A STUNNING gender-swapped original Pennywise. Love how the colors glow under flash.

Don't get used to me knowing character names, though. Most of these are a festive mystery to me, so feel free to tell me character names in the comments.

That red stone is suspended in the middle of her staff with clear line, a really neat effect. Also note the Christmas ornaments hanging from her shoulder pauldrons.

[Edited to add: Character is Sally Whitemane from World of Warcraft. Thx, commenters!]

I get the feeling cosplayers also gravitate towards characters who already wear holiday colors for this con:

The Phaaaaaaantom of the Opera is there... besides your Christmas tree.

This entire costume was jaw-dropping. I'm using mostly close-ups this post, but I'll have some full-body shots over in my Flickr at the end.

Beetlejuice and Lydia make a surprisingly festive pair:

I like the extra shreds of iridescent fabric on BJ, and Lydia's little Santa hat.

Even better: she was dragging her giant sword behind her while she walked through the crowd.

AND, that's a bunch of mistletoe hanging from the edge of the helmet:


I promise I didn't take both phone & flash photos of everyone, I just find it interesting to compare the two.

I'm also mixing in some of my Story photos, so you won't get too bored with the black-out portraits.

This pair is practically perfect in every way.

I think this next one must be a cosplay celeb, because right after my photo he was surrounded by shrieking fans:

[ETA: Character is Zagreus from the game Hades.]



This shot came out so well, I barely had to edit it. I love how she looks like she's standing in a spotlight.

(strayosama & devioushime)

LOOK AT THESE WINGS! Wow wow wow. And it was so sweet when I asked for a photo, how they stopped and held hands for me in that classic prom pose.

Another awesome pair of wings here, if you watch my Stories then you saw these in action:

She's laughing because of all the noise I'm making, bahaha. When I asked for a photo the wings were folded down, and I had no idea they were motorized and could do THIS. So I'm shrieking behind the camera.

I've described myself as a "professional fangirl" before, and days like this, it fits. It's also the best "job" in the world. I could almost be an extrovert if it involved telling people they're amazing all day. Almost.

I complimented Harley on her double Santa hats, and she confided she'd just cut the one in half:

Super cute with the two pony tails, right?

We were about to get on the escalator going up, so let's just say I caused a notable traffic disturbance.


This reminds me of The Book of Life, but I don't think that's the right source material. Anyone know?

I also don't know how she's holding all that up, she must have neck muscles for days.

[ETA: Oh hey, I was close! This is La Noche, the sister of La Muerte, who was designed for a hypothetical sequel to Book of Life.]

This gal was so sweet and funny. I'm guessing she's Dionysus, the god of wine?


Her Instagram is full of NSFW sexy Waluigi from Mario, the most cursed cosplay I think I've ever seen, ha. Also I didn't notice 'til John said something that her boob is out in this photo. :D

I think this may be a festive take on the eye of Sauron?

The tights really tie the whole look together.

Edalyn from the animated show The Owl House:

Her wig is SO GOOD - and that carved staff! Heart eyes.

Princess Peach in a royal red:

And another impressive headpiece:

Although this one has them all beat for size:

Look how close that is to the ceiling. Do you think he measured last year? (Yes, he was actually walking around with it on! )

[ETA: This is Gon from Hunter x Hunter in his “power up” mode. Thx, commenters!]

Tink in a sparkly silver instead of her usual green:

One of my favorite shots of the day:

The colors!

This Bebop's bat was so heavy she had to kick it up over her shoulder. She's also VERY tall:

The pig snout mask is so. cool.

I asked her to look down for a better angle - since I'm short - and without moving her arms she did this cool little head bop so her shades dropped down:

That's when I realized she's Bebop from Ninja Turtles. Those shades are iconic, right?

Happily we stumbled across a Critical Role meetup, and there were sooooo many good cosplays, omigoodness. It was overwhelming! I'll just show you a couple, though:

Caleb and Nott - even Frumpkin the cat on his shoulder gets a Santa hat.

I love a good fandom in-joke, and there's a new one among Critters that one of the Campaign 3 characters is so old his pockets are probably full of Werther's Original candies. So there were a few cosplayers at this meetup giving out Werther's, and it made me cackle when I got one.

One more camera vs flash shot - on the off chance any of you find this as fascinating as I do:

You can appreciate the face paint and details so much better with flash.

Here's one I bet you'll all recognize:

"Sisters!!" I yelled, and even with the masks you could tell they were all smiles. (They're from the movie White Christmas.) After I took this one said to the other, "People actually know who we are here!" and it made me happy.

Lots of cosplayers were giving out treats this year: one lady dressed as Cookie Monster had two giant tins of individually wrapped cookies she was distributing, and then this Christmas Blues Link had a sack full of multi-colored candy canes:

He had the neck of the bag tied so you couldn't see in, and when I pulled out a green one he and his friend said, "Green for courage! Yayyy!" Which was so dang sweet, I can't even tell you. I've gotta be twice his age, but that moment I felt like a little kid again.

Then on the opposite end of the sweetness spectrum, there's this, my favorite interaction of the day:

So our group LIT UP at the sight of these two, yelling and laughing, and you could tell they were living for it. They were hamming it up, dancing around, and then:

Those censor dots are for real, there was a (mercifully) fake looking ding-a-ling in box #1... with a Christmas bow on it.


(If you're lost, this is from this SNL skit.)

I was laughing so hard I even took the "treat" from box #2:

Narrator: "She did NOT eat it."

Whew, we need a moment to recover after that. Fortunately we have Emma in her newly be-sparkled Raven cosplay to help us collect ourselves:


And finally, I'll leave you with a hilariously re-imagined holiday Black Widow:

Complete with candy cane batons!

Santa should hire her, I bet the naughty kids would straighten RIGHT up.

You can see the rest of my HolMat photos in my Flickr gallery here. Cosplayers, as always, feel free to download & re-post my photos of you! And please comment with your social media so I can tag you.

K, that's it for me, gang, I hope you had fun! I also hope you're maintaining a sense of sanity and balance this week, and getting lots of rest. My own schedule is finally slowing down, so I'm looking forward to finally having a few days with no place to be and much less to do, ahhhh.


Random side note: if you're looking for a good Christmas movie for the family this week, the new original on Netflix, "A Boy Called Christmas" is whimsical and wonderful.

You're going to love Maggie Smith in it especially, but it's a great cast all round and a super charming Santa origin story. (Netflix is really delivering on those; "Klaus" from 2019 is *also* an incredible Santa origin story. Watch that, too, if you haven't yet!)


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  1. The one under the genderswapped original Pennywise is Sally Whitemane from World of Warcraft. And I'm in utter awe of how many gorgeous photos you took! So much pretty!

  2. I don't know the cosplayer, but the character in the one you theorize is a "cosplay celeb" is Zagreus, from the Supergiant game Hades.

  3. Fun pictures! And great costumes. The one you thought might be a cosplay celebrity was dressed us as Zagreus from the video game Hades, and doing a fine job of it! The Dionysus might be from the same game, but I am not sure.

  4. I don't know who the cosplayer is, but the guy with the mob (below Mary Poppins) was cosplaying Zagreus from the game Hades, the big red wing cosplay beneath Howl and Sophie was Hawks from My Hero Academia, and I *think* the girl in the blue cloak above Tinkerbelle is a Dark Magician Girl from Yugioh all wintered up: https://product-images.tcgplayer.com/fit-in/400x558/206967.jpg

    Also, they are all so gorgeous and I love all of them.

  5. 7th picture, "That red stone is suspended in the middle of her staff...", could be High Inquisitor Whitemane from World of Warcraft.

  6. I gotta get to Holmat one of these days, these photos are phenomenal and I recognize so many cosplayers!!

    The Brandy version of Cinderella is sailormoonturtle, Howl and Sophie are strayosama and devioushime respectively (I know her personally, such a sweetheart!)

  7. AHH! I was at HolMat, it's as close to seeing an internet personality as I've come, haha. Your pics are spectacular! I saw a few of these awesome people wandering around

  8. I like your Christmas casual witch look, Jen! Thanks for these (and all!) your fun pics. Merry Christmas to you and John!

    I dare the guy with the gigantic pointy hat to try to walk through that nearby doorway!

  9. The character who reminds you of The Book of Life is La Noche, the sister of La Muerte, who was designed for a hypothetical sequel to that movie.

  10. Hello all,
    Jen, John, & all those who attended the convention, please note that as of approximately 6 hours ago from the time of this writing, at least one person there has tested Covid-positive (source: https://twitter.com/fvrrons/status/1473419512548577285), so I would highly encourage testing ASAP.
    Hoping everyone stays healthy and safe this holiday season.

  11. The one with the very tall hair is Gon from Hunter X Hunter when he ages up.

  12. The guy with the tall hair is cosplaying Gon from Hunter x Hunter, in his “power up” mode. If you haven’t watched you should it’s a great anime! Parts may be too dark for your taste but at least check out the Greed Island arc! Biscuit will make your bad-a** girly self happy!

  13. I recognise very few of the characters. All I can see is that they're all living works of art. WOW!

  14. Your photos just get better and better! It took me a minute to realize that you weren’t shooting in front of a backdrop!

  15. Can't speak for anyone else, but I feel fairly confident that I, at least, with never get bored with "just" the flash shots. They are so stunning, and the setup you've managed to rig to get shots like that in the middle of a con is really amazing. All that said, it is also cool to see the "regular" photos alongside them, too — almost makes the flash ones even more impressive because of that reminder of the conditions under which they were actually taken!

  16. This is incredibly niche, but the blond with the red bikini & red+green ribbons all over her arms (under "And another impressive headpiece") is Quetzalcoatl Samba/Santa variant from Fate/Grand Order mobile game

  17. Wow, this sounds like 1,000% my kind of con! Christmas AND cosplay? CHRiSTMAS-THEMED cosplay?! Too bad I live on the other side of the country and the con is set during time when I'm normally visiting family in the Midwest for Christmas. Maybe some year I can convince the fam to go on a pre-Christmas side quest with me.

    For now, thank you for allowing us to visit the con vicariously through you! You've got some awesome photography skills, and those are some jaw-dropping cosplays! The wingspan on the Hawks from My Hero Academia is so impressive, holy cow! And the Bebop cosplayer is on point!
    Thanks for giving my convention-deprived heart something to tide me over until I'm comfortable enough to go to an event in-person again (It hasn't QUITE been 84 years, but it sure feels like it!)


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