On the 28th of November 2010 the Grand International Cosplay Ball returned for its third year at the Clapham Grand.  Since the announcement of the Ball back in August there have been swathes of announcements from the theme (Arabian Nights) to the performances on the night.  This has all helped to keep the public interested in the event.  The tickets themselves were available to buy not only on the website but also at a variety of different events such as Amecon and Hyper Japan.  They were also available nearer to the time from the TokyoToys shop in the centre of London.  The ticket prices were £18 for standard entry and there were also boxes available for either six or eight people.

The night itself promised to provide entertainment from 7pm to 1am.  However, when Animetion arrived at around 7.20pm there were still a large queue of cosplayers waiting to enter the venue.  Unfortunately, due to the time of year and the particularly bad weather experienced during that weekend it was a cold wait for those queuing outside.

Once inside we were greeted by the Clapham Grand's theatrical interior.  As mentioned in our previous features on the ball, the Grand is a former theatre which has been converted into a night club.  Its décor though is particularly fitting for a ball.  There were several bars where you could grab drinks from and we were pleased to see that draught beers were available to buy again.  The drinks prices were around what you would expect to pay in London around £3.50 a pint.

In the venue there were a couple of stores you could visit from the portrait and manga art stall on the ground floor to a Gothic Lolita accessories stall on the top floor. 

As always at the Cosplay Ball there were plenty of opportunities to have your photo taken.  For a start there was Cosplay Portrait available to take photos, which you were able to purchase at a later date.  Cosplay Fever were also present along with a number of other photographers.  In previous years the amount of photography being taken was intrusive as you tried to navigate between the different areas of the ball.  This year though this was much less of an issue.  There were however, still a few issues around the entry to the main area of the ball.

Last year the Ball was criticised for the lack of Ballroom music.  This year though it was obvious that the organisers have listened to the feedback of its attendees as there was plenty of ball music to dance to.  In between the music there were a number of performances throughout the evening.  Highlights for Animetion were the performances from the Sword and Belly Dancers.  This is one of the advantages the Ball has by selecting a theme for its event, as it is able to choose performances which you would not be able to see at any other anime or cosplay event in the UK.  There were also a number of skit performances throughout the evening following an Aladdin theme.  These people also interviewed the two Cosplay Ball guests this year - YaYa Han and Jenni Kallberg.  Unfortunately, though the sound system this year was not very clear which left the audience unsure what was being said on stage even when near to the front.  This issue also affected the musical sound performances from the band and Cosplay Ball Talent Search winner Katharine Kourbeti.

Overall, the event was really enjoyable even with some of issues experienced on the night.  As it is one of the last anime event of the year, it is a great social event which allows you to catch up with friends both new and old.  The event though is guilty of trying to pack too much into one evening though.  While in one way this can be viewed as commendable, as it offers good value for money for the standard entry, it also makes the event feel disjointed at times and not flow as well as it could.  This years attendance to the ball was down on past years although this may have more to do with the extreme weather experienced over the weekend rather than current economic climate.  One great asset the ball has is its a ability to tackle criticisms and overcoming them as past comments have been mostly overcome at the following ball.  Also with the event organisers promising to revamp the way the Grand International Cosplay Ball is run next year, Animetion is looking forward to see how the event will run in 2011.