DisCon III Moves to December 2021 at the Omni Shoreham

DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, will take place as an in-person convention from December 15-19, 2021, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.

The DisCon III committee chose these dates after nearly two-thirds of respondents to their public survey said they would prefer an in-person December convention over a virtual convention in August. The committee’s public opinion survey launched December 3 asked respondents to pick between “shifting DC III to December 15-19, 2021, with a high probability to be an in-person Worldcon, or keeping with our existing August 25-29, 2021, which would be mostly virtual with the potential for limited in-person activities.” The survey’s full results can be found on DisCon III’s website.

This marks the first time since 1948 (Torcon I) that a Worldcon will not be taking place in either August or September, and the first time Worldcon will be held in December.

“It has been a long and dark year; hopefully, with this news, we can have a December to remember,” said DisCon III Chair Bill Lawhorn. “This team has been working hard through some significant challenges but has continued to push forward even as challenges mounted. Getting past our major roadblock is just the thing we need. I need to thank everyone for their support and understanding.”

The Omni Shoreham Hotel, located across the street from DisCon III’s previous hotel, features 834 guest rooms and over 100,000 square feet (9,290.3 square meters) of meeting space. The convention expects to open up the sleeping room block for reservations very soon.

Omni Shoreham Hotel

Additionally, DisCon III will be providing a Virtual Membership for those who wish to participate in Worldcon but will not be able to travel to Washington, DC, this December. The Virtual Membership price will start at US$75 and will be available for purchase shortly. DisCon III Supporting Members will be allowed to upgrade their membership for the price difference. Attending Members who cannot physically attend will be allowed to convert their membership to a Virtual Membership and either receive the difference as a refund or contribute the difference to the Capitalize! Fan Fund.

Regarding the Hugo Awards, science fiction’s most prestigious awards, the change in DisCon III’s dates will mean a shift to the Hugo voting timeline. More information will be forthcoming on April 13, 2021, when DisCon III releases the Hugo finalists.

Finally, as Worldcon site selection filing has already closed, DisCon III will not reopen and shift the 2023 Worldcon filing deadline.

Update: The survey results are posted in “New Dates, New Hotel | DisCon III”.

[Based on a press release.]

58 thoughts on “DisCon III Moves to December 2021 at the Omni Shoreham

  1. I’m impressed that I got the File770 notice of this two minutes before I got the DisCon email…

    I’m starting to feel hopeful about having an inperson convention in 2021.

    P.S. More time to read the nominees!

  2. I am not convinced they will have an in-person convention in December, either, buti tend toward the cynical and pessimistic on this.

    I’m glad they’ll be offering virtual memberships, though, hopefully with a decent amount of virtually-accessible programming.

  3. How many ordinary working people will be able to get time off in mid-late December, with this short notice? I’m sure I’m not alone in knowing that those are the premium days to get off, and that many employers require them to be applied for as early as January!

  4. This is very good news.

    One question Filers might have is about the weather. Prepare for weather in the upper 40s for a high and maybe 35 for a low. I’d say there will be less than a 20 percent probability of snow, because snowfall in Washington has declined as a result of climate change (we had no snow in 2020 and six inches in 2021).

  5. I admit I am an Uninvolved Bystander, but I’ve been thinking for a while now that, with so much controversy with the Hugo awards overshadowing the rest of the convention, year after year, and the desire for a large, diverse world con in the flesh, maybe take this opportunity to separate the awards from the con. Is the awards ceremony that much of the draw of the convention? I gather the programming, the masquerade, the filling, the screenings, the parties, the meet and greets and elbow rubbing are more compelling reasons for people to attend.

    It seems a shame for all the controversy to get in the way of a convention which is probably already pretty expensive, a frightening investment of time and effort, to risk on the bad aftertaste of an awards banquet that leaves hurt feelings.

  6. The week before Christmas.
    And the 2023 winning bid loses 4 months of time. Ouch.
    Will the Virtual members get voting rights for Hugo and site selection?

  7. @ Micheal Lowery. These days are prior to school break, it’s the following week which will be a problem.

  8. Mid December in DC is going to be cold and wet. It’ll bring me back to the days of growing up in NYC, for sure.

    Not sure I want to drive cross country to it but that or flying. Ennnh. We’ll see which way I decide. (also assuming I get the PTO)

  9. I admit I am an Uninvolved Bystander, but I’ve been thinking for a while now that, with so much controversy with the Hugo awards overshadowing the rest of the convention, year after year, and the desire for a large, diverse world con in the flesh, maybe take this opportunity to separate the awards from the con.

    So that’s not possible. The WSFS Constitution details the (very) few things all Worldcons are required to do at the convention: have a Business Meeting to deal with amending the constitution and other business, select the Worldcon location two years ahead of time, and announce the winners of the Hugo Awards. Everything else outside of those items is not required – even the Masquerade could be jettisoned if chosen to, albeit the ramifications of that decision would be…less than ideal.

    Now where you’re correct is the Hugo Ceremony – by the rules of the WSFS Constitution, a Worldcon could print off a piece of paper with the names of the winners and tack it up somewhere thus fulfilling the requirement and negating the need for “A Ceremony”. But the winners can’t be announced outside of Worldcon.

  10. The Hugo Awards ceremony is one of the biggest attractions of Worldcon. The nominating and voting periods attract media attention and spur people to join the convention — including some people who just want to support it and have no opportunity to attend. I can’t imagine there’s any support for the idea of separating the Hugos from the event because of controversies.

  11. @Michael J. Lowery – Worldcons have generally, to be frank, priced very much out of the price range for “working class” attendees and younger working class attendees in particular, especially by comparison to, for example, anime conventions. To use an example for a high-profile Anime convention in DC – Otakon charges $100 for a weekend pass at the door (with a discount for advance memberships), while DisCon III is charging $200 for a full pass.

    Now, DisCon is longer, but Otakon has a bigger venue, so maybe that’s a wash.

    I can’t speak to attendance numbers.

  12. Their artwork for this shows a robot surrounded by a bunch of scribbled spiky 8-armed things with circle at the ends of the arms. I really hope that those are meant to represent the coronavirus that forced the change of dates, and not, say, associating December with winter and winter with snowflakes. If they wanted snowflakes, they should have drawn six arms….

  13. So that’s not possible. The WSFS Constitution details the (very) few things all Worldcons are required to do at the convention: have a Business Meeting to deal with amending the constitution and other business, select the Worldcon location two years ahead of time, and announce the winners of the Hugo Awards.

    Unless I’m missing something in the WSFS constitution, Worldcons are not required to announce the Hugo award results at the convention. They are required to administer the Hugo awards, and to publish the full voting numbers within 90 days of the convention.

  14. Mike Scott: There’s no fooling you.

    Social media seems to give rise to a lot of discussions like the trial in “A Few Good Men” where it comes out in questioning that not everything people know is in the Manual.

  15. Unless Discon III is planning to officially open in September and then adjourn for three months, I don’t think its decision to not re-open the filing of bids for 2023 is legal. The WSFS constitution says “4.6.3: For a bid to be allowed on the printed ballot, the bidding committee must file the documents specified above no later than 180 days prior to the official opening of the administering convention.”, which means that barring some kind of administrative trickery the deadline is now some time in June and cannot be changed by Discon III.

  16. Mike Scott: I don’t think its decision to not re-open the filing of bids for 2023 is legal.

    I think you’re right about that one. If another bid emerges and wants to get on the mail ballot there would be an issue.

  17. @both-mikes) That might be true, but in that case who would be ruling on it? Wouldn’t it need the business meeting to convene, since the MPC doesn’t have any authority there (I think?).

  18. Martin might be confident in predicting the weather but we’ve had both snow up to my knees in that week and also days where the temperature hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Every Worldcon bid I’ve worked on for this area had people coming up to the bid table and complaining about the August/September heat and humidity in the DC area. Well, hey, folks, we listened and did something about it. You’re welcome!

  19. How many ordinary working people will be able to get time off in mid-late December, with this short notice? I’m sure I’m not alone in knowing that those are the premium days to get off, and that many employers require them to be applied for as early as January!

    Not to mention that plane and train ticket prices are skyhigh that close to the holidays. Also, a lot of people simply don’t have time that close to the various major holidays around the winter solstice. I’m already knee deep in holiday prep by the fourth advent weekend and have no time to travel halfway across the world and I strongly suspect that many others are in the same position.

    Remember the uproar when SDCC scheduled an in-person event for Thanksgiving weekend? And Thanksgiving is only a thing in the US. The various holidays around the winter solstice affected billions of people around the globe. And even if you don’t celebrate, you’ll be affected by high ticket prices and crowded planes/train, neither of which are a good idea during a pandemic.

    Finally, keeping Hugo finalists in the lurch for seven months is not nice either. As is denying the 2023 Worldcon (and unlike previous years, site selection results are not a foregone conclusion this year) almost four months of prep time.

    I understand that no one is really keen on a second all-virtual Worldcon and that Discon was in a shitty situation due to losing their venue, etc… but this is a bad decision that excludes a lot of people from our community.

  20. Chris R. @both-mikes) That might be true, but in that case who would be ruling on it?

    The current Worldcon committee.

    To save people having to look them up, these are the rules that address various aspects of what’s being discussed.

    Section 1.6: Authority. Authority and responsibility for all matters concerning the Worldcon, except those reserved herein to WSFS, shall rest with the Worldcon Committee, which shall act in its own name and not in that of WSFS.

    Section 2.1: Duties. Each Worldcon Committee shall, in accordance with this Constitution, provide for
    (1) administering the Hugo Awards,
    (2) administering any future Worldcon or NASFIC site selection required, and
    (3) holding a WSFS Business Meeting.

    Section 4.1.3: The current Worldcon Committee shall administer the voting, collect the advance membership fees, and turn over those funds to the winning Committee before the end of the current Worldcon.

    Section 4.6.3: For a bid to be allowed on the printed ballot, the bidding committee must file the documents specified above no later than 180 days prior to the official opening of the administering convention.

  21. @Steven K Tait:
    Since Virtuel Members are an update to suporting members and suporting members allready have those rights, obvious the answer is yes.
    I am not happy about it, sorry. But to all the members have fun.

  22. @Brown Robin

    A bunch of interesting panelists come to Worldcon because of the Hugo Awards Ceremony (for instance, because they are Finalists, or their friends are). Removing the Hugo Awards from Worldcon would diminish the specialness of this specific convention. I know there are many long-time fans who think that the Hugos are the tail that wag the dog – as someone whose been involved in communicating with panelists as Programme Staff for Worldcon, especially of a “younger” generation, The Hugo Awards are what is keeping Worldcon relevant to a significant swath of the SFF community.

  23. I absolutely understand how incredibly disappointing it is for people to spend years of effort and money putting a Worldcon together and having to do a virtual convention instead. But this is a poor decision, and it’s unfair to pretty much everyone except the committee.

    A vast number of Worldcon members will have not seen their loved ones for 2 years or more, and they will need to use their money and vacation time to do so in December — and that’s assuming that global herd immunity will have been achieved by December, which I think is highly unlikely. Traveling on planes and through airports, and attending large gatherings of people from widely disparate geographic locations, are still not going to be safe by December.

    Because the convention will have to be putting on in-person Programming, the Virtual Programming is going to get short shrift. Will they be streaming all of the panels from all of the Programming rooms? I doubt it; that would be incredibly expensive to arrange, especially on a smaller-than-usual Membership fee income. And how will they be able to arrange panels with part in-person, part virtual participants? They won’t. At least for an all-virtual con, panels could have full participation by people with the relevant expertise regardless of geographic location.

    Holding the Hugo Awards Ceremony 2 weeks before Christmas is incredibly unfair to the finalists — many of whom will not be able to attend because of the above reasons. Not only will they have to spend 8 months on tenterhooks about the outcome, when the final announcement is made their recognition thunder, which they should rightly be able to enjoy, will be lost in the holiday hubbub. And most of them will not be able to be there to enjoy the celebration in person.

    An unanswered question is: When will the final Hugo voting deadline be scheduled? November? I am absolutely cringing at the thought of everyone being subjected to 8 months, instead of 4, of the aggressive Hugo vote campaigning on social media. And will everyone who would normally switch from 2020 reading to 2021 reading in August still do so, or will they lose 4 months of current year reading for the 2022 Hugos, thus reducing the participation of Hugo nominators in 2022?

    The attraction of DC as a Worldcon site is the tourism opportunities. How much fun is it going to be to try to see the sights in crap weather less than 50°F (< 10°C), especially when it gets dark at 4:45pm?

    And then there’s the horrible consequence of delaying Site Selection for 4 more months. The bid committees have already been greatly adversely affected by the pandemic in their planning and recruiting. How incredibly unfair it is to them, to take 4 months out of their 24-month preparation timeline after being seated.

    I’m really sad to see this decision. While I have a lot of compassion for the double-whammy that the committee members have been dealt, through no fault of their own by the pandemic and the hotel bankruptcy, I think this decision is selfish, short-sighted, and unfair to the rest of the Worldcon members and the Hugo finalists.

  24. I think half a Worldcon is better than none. Anyway, I don’t see that they had a choice.

  25. DisCon had a choice. They could have gone mostly virtual with limited in-person activities.

    And yes, I understand that no one really wants another virtual Worldcon. But a virtual Worldcon is still better than one which many members from outside the US (and even US members from other parts of the country) cannot attend.

  26. @Cora Buhlert

    Not to mention that plane and train ticket prices are skyhigh that close to the holidays.

    I just checked at Expedia and compared a round trip flight from here (HSV) to DC National (DCA) for 8/24/21 – 8/30/21 vs. 12/14/21 – 12/20/21. It was the same for either time — $305.

    Historical weather data for Washington DC
    12/2020
    12/2019
    12/2018
    8/2020
    8/2019
    8/2018

  27. bill: Historical weather data for Washington DC

    Thanks for providing links to back up my comments about the weather.

  28. @JJ – If you read the detailed post from Discon III, note that they had a contract with the Omni with a $400k cancellation clause. So if they had decided to have a virtual convention in August, they might well be on the hook for that, as I bet you that DC will not have restrictions in place that would activate Force Majeuere (and certainly not in a timeline thant would allow them to cancel and plan a virtual con). There was no possible good outcome in this scenario, and they are doing what they can in a really bad situation. And yes – fewer people will come than would otherwise – that’s good, because their facility would not hold a regular size DC Worldcon’s worth of people.

  29. While the new date will be difficult for some, a large majority of people voted for December. It’s what the community as a whole wanted, not just the decision of the committee.

  30. I figure the high cost of canceling due to the hotel contract is why they’re just rescheduling for December. I suspect they saw no way to have a WorldCon at all, if they had to pay the cancelation fee.

    Unfortunately, I also think this is going to be really bad for attending members, virtual members, program participants, Hugo finalists, bid committees…

  31. @bookworm1398
    Which to me means that the majority of the membership does not care about members from outside the US and whether they can attend the con or indeed about anybody who might want to celebrate the holidays with their families. That doesn’t make me feel very welcome.

  32. @JJ

    Thanks for providing links to back up my comments about the weather.

    You’re welcome. Data is always good.

  33. @JJ Continued (after edit window)
    But as far as tourism, there is so much to see indoors in DC that if you want to combine sightseeing with the convention, you can still have a heck of a trip despite the season. In fact, given that August is a prime tourist month, many of the attractions are less crowded and more accessible in December.

    I’ve been to DC and the Mall many times (during both times of year), and I could easily spend a day each at the National Gallery, the Library of Congress, the Air & Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of American History (and I’ve been through all of them already).

    (and August heat with high humidity is its own kind of “crap weather” — remember, DC was built in a swamp).

  34. @Cora the choice was between an August convention that would almost certainly have been online and a convention in December that probably be able to be live. People can still celebrate Christmas; as that is a week later and there will be online memberships for those who cannot attend in person. Obviously with the pandemic having a live convention in August would not have been possible and would still have the problem of limited international travel.

  35. The humidity in August is torture. DC in December is just cold. Even the cold is mitigated by the approximately four-minute walk from the hotel to the nearest Metro station, which goes directly to many places you might want to visit without hardly having to go outside.

  36. @Sam Lubell
    Taking travel times and time zone differences into account, I probably wouldn’t be back until December 21. And since December 24 is the main event in Germany, that would leave me two days for shopping and meal prep.

  37. So the vast conspiracy to make me engage with the Best Series Hugo Award takes yet another step – this time attempting to cut off my excuse that I don’t have enough reading time.

  38. I know this is quite an unpopular opinion, but here goes:
    I think it’s quite irresponsible for any organisation to be running large in person events, but particularly in winter and particularly events which bring together people from all over the country and all over the world during a global pandemic.
    yes, there is hope that the vaccine will be able to tamp down some of the worst excesses of the virus but anyone who thinks that it won’t be a problem is unfortunately deluding themselves, and during winter when other diseases are circulating as well and when most analysts predict a resurgence of the coronavirus also.
    Added to this, there is the uncertainty of travel rules being changed in a moments notice, to the point where some attendees could find themselves stuck in the US unable to leave.
    I think in-person events should not be considered until the middle of 2022, if at all.

  39. If many virtual memberships are bought, the con will adjust its plans to provide more support to virtual attendees, even though hybrid events are fraught with problems. But for them to do that, the memberships need to be bought early. If everyone waits to the week before, as is common, they might get a thin package.

    As talks are about the easiest thing to virtualise, I hope they plan dedicated rooms for talks with the recording equipment in place. 5 days * 10 hours of talks would keep me busy over Christmas.

  40. There was never any prospect of my attending a US convention this year. Not in the summer or at Christmastime. I hope some people get to enjoy it, but I hope the ConCom isn’t doing their calculations on the assumption of 8000 attendees.

    Wonders when the Hugo voting packet (assuming it is a thing) will be available. If at the ‘normal’ mid-May kind of point then I might actually read everything this year.

  41. @ Cora Buhlert:

    Back on Dec 21st, most of 22nd lost due to jet-lag, giving you the 23rd to do ALL THE PREP.

    On the plus side, December may genuinely be long enough for US policies to shift so that I would consider entering the country.

    On the minus side, I am not entirely sure I want to travel internationally (more than I absolutely have to) in 2021..

  42. I do absolutely not agree that a virtual con would have been the better alternative. That is because virtual cons have no value for me. I didn’t go to CONZealand, because I had no interest in it.

    Cons are social events for me and to go to them means visiting friends, the city, having meetups, bumping into people. I seldom go to more than three panels in a day, because my ADHD make me to restless.

    So for me, DisCon3 made the right choice. Any in presence Con, however rottenly organized, however badly placed or timed, is better than a Virtual Con.

  43. I am conflicted.

    An in person Con in the abstract is definitely better than a virtual one. The realpolitik of trying to have an in person con and the reasons to do so and to not do so complicate matters.

    I think a virtual con in the end would have been far more fair to those members of Worldcon outside the US–can international travelers even GET here in December? That is where I worry about the rubber hitting the road. A Worldcon where only Americans can go, and only a fraction of the usual number at that–that’s a heavy lift.

    And yeah, 8 months of a Hugo award season–faugh.

  44. It sounds like the choice was between no in-person convention at all and possibly a massive cancellation fee, or moving the date to an inconvenient date in December. On that basis there was no choice.

    I do think it is harsh to people who can’t do those dates, but since the in-person convention wasn’t going ahead in August anyway, it sounds like there wasn’t much choice (i.e. if they’d said no to December, it meant saying no to the convention and nobody at all could go). It does raise complications for the following year, and in particular I can’t believe they’re going to give the 2023 convention four months less of prep time. We know it’s almost certainly going to be Memphis (short of vast numbers of memberships being bought up by people in China for block-voting purposes), but until they 100% know for certain, that’s going to cause them issues.

  45. This discussion really makes me wonder about the discussion(s) regarding what to do with Worldcon just prior to WWII.

    I wonder if there were fans writing in the lettercols that they completely disagreed with the decision to hold off on an in-person convention for the duration of the war.

    -No one knows when the war will end. It could be decades before we have another worldcon!
    -What if we lost the war? Do you think the Nazis or the Emperor are going to let us hold an event? There might never be another one!
    -Well, I’m glad they cancelled them since I’ll be overseas and wouldn’t be able to get leave to attend anyway
    -I think they should hold it anyway, we don’t have to print progress reports
    -We’re letting the Nazis dictate our events!

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