How I Decide Which Lolita Event to Attend?

Recently I seem to find a new interesting lolita event at least once every few months. Sometimes they are more like bigger meetups that are open to everyone, while other times they are genuinely large ticketed events with all kinds of extra fanciness thrown in. Having remembered times when Tea Party Club’s anniversary, Street Fashion Europe, Hellocon and the Angelic Pretty Tea Party in Paris were the only international lolita events in Europe, constantly seeing new ones pop up is both exciting and overwhelming. I started a thread in my comm’s Facebook group and as of July there were 9 events there already, all between September 2019 and May 2020, and I fully anticipate for more to appear for later in 2020. For all my best intentions, I physically can’t attend every single one – I don’t have enough funds or enough annual leave to use, plus until recently my nearest airport only offered direct routes to a limited number of destinations. How to decide then? Here’s how I do it.

When and where?

While travel within Europe is cheaper than to other continents, there are still places and times that are cheaper than others. Especially when having limited annual leave to take (and when unpaid leave may not always be a viable option), this is the first and often biggest hurdle to overcome. As we all know, time is money, so it’s about the cost of getting to the location as much as it is about the time it takes to get there. How much luggage can I take and will I fit in that? What time will my flight land? Can I safely get from the airport to my accommodation at that time and at what cost? What accommodation options are available? How near are they to the event venue? If they’re far, how much should I budget for public transport and how reliable is public transport there? Is the event during peak or off-peak times for that destination? Do I have any important commitments at that time (family, work, other)? All of these and more can make or break a potential trip before even looking at anything else. This is also when timing is of the essence, as the earlier you know about the event, the better your chances of finding a good deal on travel and accommodation, as well as planning the rest of your life around that trip. All of this is assumptions for a solo traveller (which I often am). If driving and car share are an option for you, this may also swing your decision.

Just because the world is more connected than ever doesn't mean that you
will be able to go everywhere at any time.

What is the event?

Before we even get to the cost of the event itself, a lot rests on what it actually is. To me this means primarily: a) what is the theme; b) who is organising it; and c) who are the guests in attendance. Let’s break this down further.

The theme

As much as I may like everything else about the event, if the theme is not to my liking, I probably won’t go. Not because the event won’t be good, not because I wouldn’t enjoy myself, but because at this stage, with so much choice, I would rather prioritise an event that is 100% to my interests. A good example is the upcoming Museum of Oddities event in November/December in Madrid. I thoroughly enjoyed myself in Madrid last year: I enjoyed the city, made some great friends and the team behind the event are guaranteed to put on something enjoyable. However, the theme seems better suited to gothic lolitas, which is not my primary style. So given that there are plenty of other events happening, I would rather save some money and attend something else, instead of trying to come up with a darker coordinate to match the event theme and to look at things (fashion show, shops etc.) that are not my primary interest. I know that it will still be a good event – it is simply not quite for me.

This theme, on the other hand, I am very much in love with!
Banner for the Lolita of Green Gables event, taken from the event Facebook page,
by Carolina Grinn.

The organisers

This is insanely crucial. Ultimately, how well the event runs depends solely on the people putting it on. Of course, there are always unpredictable hiccups happening, but how the organisers handle those is also vital to ensuring that everyone is satisfied. You are trusting these people with your money to deliver the experienced they advertised, so you want to have confidence that they will handle it well. Is this the first time these people/that team is organising an event? Can you find any reviews of the past ones or can you talk to any past attendees who can shed some light on this? Is this a big team (e.g. Street Fashion Europe) or a smaller one (e.g. Amor Barrocco)? If it’s the first event by that person or team, how long have they been members of the lolita community? Do they have any experience of international events or of organising large meetups such as ILD? Are they respected in their local comm and/or internationally? Have you heard of any drama surrounding them? You’d be surprised how often people who don’t have a good record in their own comm try to do something bigger for the wider community (look out for people saying “I’m in the same comm as X, the event is in my hometown and I am not going”, then ask yourself why is that). Finding this out may be hard if you’re very new to the lolita fashion community, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. Check if someone else in your comm knows anything. If the event page lists organisers as some sort of public page, instead of specific names, ask if the organisers could introduce themselves. Once you’ve been around for a while, even if you haven’t attended anything, it will become easier to find out whose events you can have confidence in and whose might need prodding a little bit more before you give them a chance. This isn’t to say that people who are organising an event for the first time or who may not be widely respected in their community can’t put on a good event. This means that it is up to you to decide whether you’re confident in giving them that chance, even after your stalking and questioning, as well as whether you’re willing to risk it considering the cost of the event (more on which further on).

I trust Amor Barrocco to do a great event, they are a solid team!
Picture from the Amor Barrocco Facebook page, taken by Zazi White.

The guests

Once you’ve been to a few events, there will have been some guests whom you’ve seen multiple times and some you’ve never met, maybe even never heard of. If the main guest is someone new to you, then do you feel excited enough to meet them? If you have attended an event with them already, then would you like to do so again based on the vibe and their interactions with the attendees last time, and your support for them/their brand? It’s also worth checking whether the main guest is someone who attends a lot of events or someone who doesn’t or who’s never done one before. A guest like Triple Fortune seems to have a continuous worldwide tournée – if you aren’t feeling the theme of this particular event, you may still see them at another one. On the other hand, if the guest is someone coming for the first time (e.g. Emily Temple Cute at Traumerei) or someone who hasn’t attended much lately (e.g. Yumi Fujihara from Innocent World), then it may be better to jump at the opportunity while it’s there, since you’re already considering it. There are also some guests who interact much more with the attendees than others. While Mana-sama’s appeal is that he is distant and mysterious, I know people who have gotten a slightly standoff-ish vibe from Angelic Pretty’s Maki and Asuka at Dream Masquerade Carnival, as they only got to meet them at the end of that very long and tiring day (and this will likely be vastly different from someone who met them that morning, both of those people’s impressions are equally valid, so do your research). On the other side, guests like Triple Fortune or Haenuli make very active effort to talk to everyone and to interact. And then you get those in-between ones, e.g. Fumiko-san from Enchantlic Enchantilly who wants to interact, but finds herself stopped a little by the language barrier and innate Japanese shyness. Also, how much guest interaction you get will depend on how big the event is (the more intimate the event, the easier that is), as well as often on ticket tier. Consider how much you want to meet the guest, how likely you might be to meet them again and how much interaction you could reasonably expect to get as an attendee (and how much of it you personally want) when making your decision. And this applies to all guests, both main headliners and other ones, including direct vendors where you might also get to meet an indie designer. Just because someone is not an event headliner doesn’t mean that you might not want to meet them, especially if their brand is based on another continent as you are.

This is still one of my most precious mementos!

What is the total cost?

The more things you can anticipate and calculate, the more informed your decision will be on whether you can attend or not. For starters, you need to take into account the event ticket of your choice, accommodation and transport to/from the place (including transport to/from the airport and the venue, where applicable). To be more specific in your budgeting you could consider things such as food, your shopping allowance (leave some room for flexibility, as many announcements of vendors etc. are made later and currency exchange rates fluctuate), any pieces you expect to buy for your coordinate (including cost of crafting materials where appropriate), any additional attractions you might want to see/do or even any presents/souvenirs you anticipate buying. Some of these costs, namely accommodation and meals, you might be able to split with friends. Other costs, like ticket or transport, you may have options between cheaper and pricier options to suit your needs. Knowing what the whole thing could cost you will help you determine whether you can afford it or not. Or how much you might need to save up for it. Oftentimes it’s not necessarily that the event is expensive, but that we’re not budgeting for it properly. Anticipating to need, let’s say, £600 total for all of the above will help you put away a chunk each month or remind you not to impulse buy when you have the event coming up. And again, the earlier in advance you know, the easier it will be to save up, as well as evaluate your priorities (e.g. do you want lots of money to shop or not) and get good deals on things that you can get for less.

Sometimes events don't work out even despite our best intentions and efforts. Stay positive and
focus on other events you could attend instead of dwelling on the one that slipped away.

Who else is going?

It may sound mean to put this last, however, on a personal level it is much less of a priority than the other ones. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to events and sharing rooms/apartments with friends. The spirit of getting ready together and being hype together is simply wonderful. Yet ultimately, with so many events happening, a time comes when an event that my friends aren’t interested in, which I still wouldn’t want to miss out on. This one is incredibly subjective – some people would not go to an international event on their own, whereas others are happy to give making new friends a go. It might also be that an event that you couldn’t afford on your own becomes much more manageable when attended with friends. Havind said this, remember your online friends. In such a niche community like lolita it’s common to meet a friend via social media and being able to meet them in person at an event is just as special as travelling with a group. Knowing who else is going will potentially affect your financial ability to attend, as well as could improve your emotional wellbeing during by providing you with a support network. Figure out which type you are and if in doubt, ask yourself which one would you regret more: going on your own or not going at all. Again, this may be harder to figure out if you’re new to the lolita fashion community – how could you know when you’ve not experienced much yet? – but on the flipside, doesn’t that mean you have more to gain and less to lose? Only you can answer that question and then weigh it against the other factors.

Whether you travel together or meet there, friends can vastly
improve an event!

What to wear?

This isn’t actually a big factor in deciding whether to attend an event or not, plus it’s more linked with event theme. But if something comes up and you can instantly visualise exactly the outfit that you’d wear, then isn’t this a sign to at least try to make it happen? This is one way the lolita universe can tell you to buckle up, do some savings or take some overtime to go to a particular event and have some fun.
(On a serious note though, don’t base your entire decision purely on that, check the finances first!)

Apologies if this has been less helpful to my non-European audience. I realise that not everywhere is as spoilt for choice with various lolita fashion exclusive tea parties happening and that many of you might be in a place where you’re lucky to have one. If that’s you, I hope that you’ve nonetheless found this useful in terms of general deciding whether to attend a meet or not (since all of this is transferable stuff) and maybe found some interesting nuggets here and there.

So speaking of events, are there any that you are planning on going this year or next? I will definitely be at Strike a Pose in the Netherlands this September, I’ve already bought tickets for Imperial Garden in Belgium next year and am going to move Heaven and Earth to make sure that I attend the 10th Gothic Lolita Festival event in Russia in April next year! And whatever else I might manage in the meantime (which may not be that much more, but I’ll do my best).

* Thumb image by Bradley P. Johnson.


  1. This is a great, thoughtful look at how to objectively make a decision that doesn't seem all that objective at the first glance.

    But yes. This Aussie is super jelly right now of all the epic meets you Europeans have access too! The Sydney community is great and there are some good events but nowhere near this scope!

    1. It definitely doesn't seem a very objective decision at first. I feel that at local community level people often do these without realising that they're checking for that stuff? For example, if there is someone in the community who you know always flops as a meet organiser, you just know not to go - or if the meetup happens just that little bit further away than usual, you might double check the cost of getting there plus the meetup itself before saying yes or no. But as soon as 'meet' is replaced with 'tea party' or 'international event', many people often almost switch to that impulse buying, treat yo'self mode they can have when purchasing lolita dresses, and the realisation that this is not a smart decision only comes after. It's a good habit to have, since it will mean that whether you're trying to save up for a dream dress (so fewer costly meets) or trying to attend an event (so fewer dress purchases), you are making conscious financial decisions and having a clear priority (experiences vs objects).

      It is such a shame how there isn't more happening in Australia. Just from looking online, there are plenty of lolitas around the country and some events have started to happen (like that tea party with RinRin or the one you went to last December, or the Peppermint Fox tea party from this or last month?), so like the demand is there. Hopefully all of those are signs that things are picking up and people are gathering their energy to do something.


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