It’s that time again when wizards, wookies and anime lookalikes walk the streets of Bogotá: the annual dose of geekery and nerdism known as SOFA 2017 has arrived!
Having started as a rather modest event nine years ago, SOFA has expanded to now occupy the whole of Bogotá’s Corferias convention centre for five days when leisure and variety are the order of the day.
And the idea of variety is central to SOFA: many of the activities here would otherwise be considered as fringe, but here they find a home. It’s this sense of inclusion that makes SOFA 2017 more than a simple Comic Con event and gives it its unique atmosphere, as skaters rub shoulders with gamers, and they all ask if they can have a quick photo with a passing cosplayer.
SOFA has long been represented by a dragon on its logo, and this year, there’s not only a truly massive dragon statue to greet visitors, but they can also interact with the event’s virtual host, Drabot. This electronic entity lets SOFA visitors interact with the fair in a new way, as they exchange messages and receive information and quests via codes posted around the fair. Will you manage to keep Drabot happy with your efforts?
As usual, a large part of Corferias is dedicated to vendors selling everything from high tech to specialised cosplay gear. However, there are plenty of wares on offer for the more casual shopper to pick up, whether they’re looking for comics (including many available in English), an Avengers baseball cap, or their very own Totoro. One thing that many people enjoy at SOFA is also the chance for more personalised souvenirs such as a caricature courtesy of the gallery of comic artists, or their name written out in Japanese or Elvish.
Visitors to SOFA are also encouraged to get involved with many of the activities. There are extensive gaming areas where you can indulge your every whim, whether that’s to try out a new tabletop game or slip into the helmet and gloves of virtual reality. If you just want to have a friendly (or not so friendly!) kick-about in FIFA, there are plenty of consoles where you can get yourself connected.
For the more competitive, there are also a lot of tournaments to join in with. Whether you’re an expert in robotics, a pro or potential pro-cosplayer, or a Pokémon master, there are competitions dotted throughout SOFA which are often as exciting for the audience as for the participants.
Of course though, you can also take in SOFA in a much more relaxed way, by ambling around and admiring the numerous exhibitions of artwork. One quite literally small thing to look out for is the exhibition of mini works of art by Colombian artist Flor Carvajal Mendoza. Here, you can see extremely small sculptures of such figures as Pink & the Brain and Hello Kitty, each of which is sculpted so small that it fits onto the head of a pin. Luckily, magnifying glasses are available to take a closer look at this teeny tiny artistry!
With so much going on, large crowds are expected at 2017: about 170,000 people over the event’s five-day duration. With that in mind, and especially if you’re planning on going on Saturday or Sunday (usually the best days to take in the bulk of the cosplay and event action), expect Corferias to be bursting at the seams, and get your ticket in advance.
As SOFA reaches its ten-year anniversary, it’s great to see this dragon soaring in Bogotá. The event continues to grow and attract more and more people, and even bigger things are expected for next year when it hits the ten-year mark. In the case of this event, it’s definitely a case of SOFA, so good!