I’ve always enjoyed reading people’s reports from furry conventions, so it’s only fair that I try to do the same for my own first con, Eurofurence 27 in the Congress Center Hamburg, from September 3rd to 7th. Just be warned, it’s going to be a bit long.
So what’s it like to visit a furry convention? If I had to sum up the experience, it’s an overwhelming feeling of shared identity, like one big family. The vibes were amazing and everyone was so kind and helpful, both con staff and attendees, even though I was quite anxious during the first few days. I felt safe there. And when you’re sitting in a hall with a few thousand other people and someone on stage makes an obscure furry joke and everyone gets it, that’s not something you ever experience outside a furry con.
Was it a perfect experience? Nah. There were plenty of things I or the con could have handled better, but for a first time experience, it went far better than I could have hoped.
Day 1 – Sunday
The train ride from Augsburg to Hamburg was mostly uneventful—my train was almost perfectly on time. I remember walking down the stairs from the train platform in Hamburg Dammtor, and immediately ending up in front of the giant towering Radisson Blu Hotel, with a fursuiter casually walking past me. I should mention here that this wasn’t just my first furry con, but also my first real-life furry gathering of any kind. With one very brief exception here in Augsburg, I had never seen a fursuiter in real life. And dang are they big! And beautiful. Sorry if I stared too much.
I first met up with my friend Valynxia, my con-mate for EF, who also had a room at the same hotel, Lindner Park-Hotel Hagenbeck. That was about 15 minutes away by car—not too bad right? Except our car GPS kept sending us in circles. I tried Google Maps on my phone instead, which for some reason promptly led us into the CCH parking lot. Turned out that getting out of there wasn’t so easy, and required us to pay for a parking ticket even though we just wanted to pass through.
Already very late at the hotel, I was anxious I’d miss the opening ceremony so I left most of my stuff at the hotel, including my backpack and tail, and so I felt a bit “naked” when arriving at the CCH. First impression: What a huge place, very open and bright. Walking up the stairs from the parking lot, I immediately heard loud music, and then saw people dancing in front of an open stage in the middle of the lobby.
We quickly got our badges and con book (no queue since we were so late) and rushed to the hall for the opening ceremony, only to get sent back because it was full. Hmm, not the best start. So for a while we just walked around the lobby, taking everything in, chatting with a furry from Sweden I had met earlier in front of the train station, and eventually went to explore the CCH a bit. I had read something about rooftop gardens that sounded like a great place for fursuit pictures, but sadly the higher levels were blocked off.
I eventually worked up the courage to ask some fursuiters for short video clips—a lot scarier than I thought at first, but they were very kind and sweet. One thing I learned: when asking for still pictures, fursuiters usually had a cool pose ready, but when asking for a video they often wanted some idea what they should do.
I think at this point we tried some of the food trucks outside, and the pizza was delicious, if a little pricey. Eventually I got contacted by my friend Switch, who asked if we’d like to visit the water fountain light show in the nearby Planten un Blomen park, so we met up and went there together. It was pretty dark already and the park was not well lit, so I was a little worried about walking right into one of the many ponds—but we made it to the show safely and the light show was pretty cool!
After the show, we headed back to the CCH and since I had not slept much the previous night, and wanted to be rested for the Fediverse panel, we decided to drive back to the hotel for the day. As I said, not a perfect start, but considering how anxious I was at the beginning I felt pretty good.
Day 2 – Monday
The big day for me. Before the Fediverse panel, I wanted to meet up with my friends Finn and Dalite, who offered to help with the fursuiting part of my presentation, but that didn’t work out for timing reasons. Instead I attended Uncle Kage’s “Your First Furry Con” panel—extremely crowded—where luckily I met Finn and we watched the panel together. I had already seen that panel online from last year’s EF and there wasn’t much new for me, but it was still very entertaining. After that, Finn had to suit up quickly, and I made my way to the room CHICAGO next door for our Fediverse panel.
At that point I was so nervous that I almost felt okay again—it was that “whatever happens, happens” feeling. The previous panel was just ending, so I waited in front of our room, and slowly people for our panel began to show up. My memories of that part are a bit hazy because I was so anxious, but I remember seeing Dalite, Finn, and also NigelDragon in their beautiful fursuits for the first time, there were hugs, and everyone was friendly and supportive. Gallen even brought some stroopwafels!
The actual presentation went much smoother than I expected. I was worried I might stumble over my words all the time, but the audience was wonderful and after just a few moments I already felt comfortable. We did our fursuit skits with Dalite, Finn, and NigelDragon acting as “Mastodon instances” and passing a little black panther plushie between each other as a “post”, and it went great—all without having rehearsed it in advance.
After the event was over, quite a few people came to me with questions and it was awesome to see so much interest. Eventually I had to scramble a bit to make room for the next panel, so I hastily packed my stuff and left the room.
My biggest regret is that our time was up pretty much when I finished my presentation, so we never really got to the meet-up part. I still wanted to chat more with people and especially take a group picture with everyone, but after 90 minutes of presentation I was also very exhausted and it completely slipped my mind in that moment. I still hope that people had the opportunity to connect a little during the presentation, and hopefully we can do a real meet-up next year!
I needed a bit of alone time afterwards so I went down to the lobby, got a drink and ate a Snickers, and just sat there for a while, listening to the music from the open stage and watching people dancing and have fun. I’ve never felt comfortable at any big gathering before, and even here I always felt my rather limited social batteries, but still—in that moment I truly felt at home. With the anxiety about the panel off my shoulders and having had such a nice experience there, this was probably one of my happiest moments at the con.
That was until I realized I had apparently lost both of my sticker bags while packing my stuff at the panel. All of my Fediverse stickers, my personal stickers, and those I got from people earlier. I emptied my backpack, I went back to the panel room, though I couldn’t look inside since there was another panel going on. I checked with lost & found. I emptied my backpack again. Nothing.
A little bummed, there wasn’t much I could do, so I decided to leave my backpack at the storage locker—a service that came in super handy multiple times during the con—and queued for the Dealer’s Den instead. While waiting there I met up again with Valynxia and we explored the DD together. I bought some nose-boop pins from Zita, EF cat stickers from Pan Hesekiel Shiroi, and also picked up art prints from Vader-San for a friend who couldn’t attend EF. I also wanted to pick up my EF sponsor package, but quickly learned that there was another queue inside the DD just for the con store, and it looked very long, so I decided to try again later.
Afterwards I went back to the panel room, and while I waited for the other panel to end I checked my backpack for the third time and finally realized I had put both sticker bags into the compartment with my laptop—the only one I didn’t check because it was rather tight, I clearly saw the laptop, and I usually don’t put other stuff in there. So… yeah. With that problem out of the way too, Valynxia and I were ready to get some noms at one of the food trucks.
I don’t quite remember, but I think we spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out around the CCH lobby and forecourt. I didn’t need anything more exciting that day, so I just enjoyed the time, chatted, and took pictures and videos of fursuiters. There were DJs playing music next to the food trucks, people were dancing, and the vibes were just wonderful.
In the evening Valynxia and I spent some time to cool down in the Artist’s Lounge, and I got to watch Valynxia draw in their sketchbook. Eventually my friend Snow Foxx joined us—we had first met at the Fediverse panel, and had known each other from Mastodon before—and we had a super interesting chat about fursuit making and all the work that goes into it.
Day 3 – Tuesday
On Tuesday, Valynxia and I met up with our friend Mad Kakerlaken who had recently moved to Hamburg. She’s not a furry (but an awesome artist!) and wanted to see the fursuit parade with us, and before that we showed her the convention center too. She even drew a little sketch of my jaguar fursona while we were waiting!
The fursuit parade was amazing, and it was so sweet to see the interactions between fursuiters and local people, especially a group of younger kids who had come to watch the event. I tried to walk around the parade to record videos from different angles—all in all, I got almost half an hour of footage, and all the fursuiters were incredibly fun and energetic, despite the 30 °C temperatures. Luckily it seemed like the EF team took good care of them, cooling them down with air blowers and water carriers. Should have tried that with my phone, because it actually showed me an “overheating” warning at some point while I was recording in the sun.
After the parade, we explored the nearby Planten un Blomen park—a really beautiful place that reminded me of the botanical gardens here in Augsburg—and ate first a pizza and then a sorely needed ice cream to cool down. Eventually our friend had to head back home, and we needed to get to the next event—the big group picture. That one took place in front of the CCH entrance and luckily took only a few minutes to set up, because the sun was getting really intense by that time.
Shortly after that we queued up for Paws on Fire, the big dance battle and the number one event I wanted to see at Eurofurence. However, the queues were extremely long and confusing—there were two, not just one, except one of them wasn’t moving at all, and of course that was the one we were standing in. After about half an hour and seeing the size of the other queue, we eventually gave up. I was rather disappointed, having missed another big event after the opening ceremonies, but we decided to get in line for Furry Tails Theater and their show Demonormicon instead, and I am so glad we did. (Also, big thanks to TheFuzzyFloof for saving us from getting stuck in the wrong queue a second time.)
I had no idea what I was getting into—I had only seen the vague posters around the CCH, and not having seen any of the other stage events yet, I think I expected a simple amateur-level theater show? Instead it was a full-blown, professional stage production with a wonderful fursuiting cast and multiple dance parts. It was incredibly fun and entertaining, and probably the highlight of my entire EF experience.
With the day saved after my failed Paws on Fire attempt, and my friend getting a bit sleepy after the show, we decided to head back to the hotel for the day.
Day 4 – Wednesday
When I arrived at the CCH that morning, I noticed that much of the furniture in the lobby was gone. The info desk told me there was a medical conference happening that day on the second level—must have been a very memorable conference—and the lobby had to be cleared so there was enough room in case of an emergency. It was a bit sad because the lobby suddenly felt a lot less cozy, but oh well.
I was already quite exhausted from the previous days and didn’t really feel like attending any panels, so instead I took some time to take more pictures and record videos around the CCH—something I had neglected a bit due to all the excitement. One highlight was the fursuit group picture in the afternoon, with so many fursuiters all in one place. There was a howl!
While Valynxia and I were having lunch in the Planten un Blomen park, my friend Switch contacted me and told me somewhat ominously to come immediately because there was something important to see. Turns out his friend Phil had spontaneously bought a fursuit head and tail at the DD and they were awesome—especially that waggy tail!
After that I went to watch the Fons The Bun & Friends concert on the open stage, but sadly couldn’t stay long because it was almost time for the Closing Ceremony and the Pawpet Show, and with my terrible queuing experiences so far I didn’t want to take any chances this time. Luckily we got in!
Watching the closing ceremony was very bittersweet—I think we all agreed that it had been an awesome con and the new venue was better than anyone could have hoped for. Even the CCH team was happy with us and called us a “very unconventional convention”. There was a very moving video call with a representative for this year’s charity, UAnimals, where it was revealed that the con had raised over 23,000 EUR (later updated to 40,004.88 EUR) in their support. But also, slowly the feeling was sinking in that that was it—the con was pretty much over for me, and soon I’d have to leave it all behind. I wasn’t ready for that.
The Pawpet Show afterwards was amazing. Both the level of craftsmanship, and also the political message it had, but I think given my exhaustion on that day and that slowly creeping feeling of dread, I would have enjoyed it more had I seen it at an earlier time during the convention, not after closing. Originally we had planned to return to the hotel as usual after this event—my train would be leaving at 9:14 in the morning, I still had to pack all my stuff and check out of the hotel, and staying up late would be very stupid and irresponsible.
So during the Pawpet Show I sent a message to Snow Foxx and asked him if he was staying longer and would like to meet up, and I ended up staying until almost 1 in the morning. I had a wonderful time, got to take pictures and videos of his beautiful fursuit, and we even visited the dead dog dance together. I had never been to any disco or dance party before in my life, so that was a bit intimidating, but the atmosphere was amazing! I’ll never forget being led by a fox hand-in-paw through a crowd of dancing fursuiters.
When I did have to leave eventually, I no longer felt that close to tears. People were still hanging out in front of the CCH, but everything was more quiet now. I took off my tail and badges, and went to get a taxi back to my hotel. It was a good ending to an unforgettable week, and I can’t wait to go back next year.
Thank you to everyone who made this possible.
A few random observations from my first furry con visit:
- There are so many ways to enjoy a furry convention. Mine probably wasn’t even typical—I know some people go there mostly for the drinks, dances, and room parties, and I had pretty much none of that—but it was still an awesome time.
- Connect and make plans with people in advance. It’s not impossible to find new people spontaneously at a con, but if you struggle with social anxiety (like I do) this can be hard, on top of an already overwhelming experience.
- If you want to get the full experience, find a hotel close to the con so it’s not such a problem to get back late at night.
- The queues—they are horrible, and incredibly long. If you want to see a big event, be there at least half an hour early. If there’s a seating period before the event, be there half an hour before that.
- Of the famous “621 rule” (six hours of sleep, two meals, and one shower per day), the 6 was definitely the hardest for me. There is just so much happening, and not enough time.
- Speaking of showers, bring more than one shirt per day, at least in the summer. I did shower every day but being active almost the entire time, I wish I could have changed more often.
- Bring a large water bottle. You can buy something to drink at the convention, but just for staying hydrated it’s ridiculously expensive.
- If you’re likely to be outside in the summer, bring sunscreen. I did not, and I got burned pretty badly during the fursuit parade.
- Above all, be kind and forgiving. You’re probably not the only person who’s a bit anxious.