Nightmare Nights Dallas was founded in 2013 and has been running successfully ever since. This will be our fifth year as a convention and we’re excited to put on another fantastic event for you, our attendees.

So far we’ve helped raise over $40,000 for our charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and hope to add a lot more to that tally this year.

Cosplay Rules



Anyone who has purchased a three-day-pass to Nightmare Nights may enter the Nightmare Nights Cosplay Contest event.

Entrants 13 and under must have their parents’ permission to enroll, and MUST be accompanied by a legal guardian or relative of age at the show.

Special Note for children entering the Nightmare Nights Cosplay Contest: Every child Entrant for the Nightmare Nights Cosplay Contest is given a special participation award at the end of the show (this award is usually a ribbon or small prize donated by the sponsors. Please try to stay until the judging is completed, so the children’s awards can be handed out).


Pre-registration signup for the Nightmare Nights Cosplay Contest will begin on Tuesday, October 18, 2017.

To sign up, the entrant (or group leader for group entrants) will be required to fill out the Cosplay Sign Up form. The deadline for pre-reg entry forms to be received will be October 24th, 2017

Signups will also be taken at the convention itself on Friday and Saturday until 4pm Saturday.

Forms will be available at Registration and can be turned in to Registration. 


All entries are taken on a first come, first served basis, to be determined by email time stamp.


Costumes should be related to the MLP universe in a reasonably meaningful way. For example, a pony version of Dr. Who (Dr. Whooves) would be acceptable, but Dr. Who who wandered into the MLP universe would not unless as part of skit where the majority of other characters belonged to the MLP universe.

a.) No costume is NO COSTUME.

While many pony gijinka and OCs wear what could be termed “street clothes”, a single character in regular, everyday clothing isn’t very engaging and is thus disqualified. However, if this character is a part of a group performance or elaborate props, wigs or cutie marks are involved, then the entry will not be disqualified.

b.) Body Coverage:

Nightmare Nights is a family-friendly environment and has to adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by Hasbro, the convention hotel and the City of Dallas. All costumes need to be tasteful and the barest minimum of coverage that will be allowed at the event will be that of a tank top and shorts. This means body paint, latex pasties, etc., are not considered adequate body coverage without additional full coverage clothing being worn over it. Thongs, bikini tops, lingerie and sheer clothing are not allowed. Parasprite bikinis are, unfortunately, out.

c.) Contest Guidelines:


The Cosplay should be considered a G-PG rated event at the most. All music and pre-recorded materials will be pre-screened and all violators of this rule will be disqualified. The judgement of what is acceptable is left to the sole discretion of the Cosplay Director and Cosplay Staff. Offensive language of any kind is not allowed (racial or sexual epithets, cursing, etc.). Sexual humor is absolutely not allowed. If your joke could not be performed at your workplace or in front of your grandmother, then you probably can’t perform it at Nightmare Nights. Note that if an awardee violates these rules during the award presentation, then that is considered grounds for removal of said award, with the award then going to the next awardee in line or potential runner-up. Be clever, not crass! If you have a question about your content, please feel free to ask the Cosplay Staff if it is allowable.

d.) Weapons Policy:


This means no prop or real guns, knives, swords, spears, shuriken, fist weapons, maces, whips, flails, gladiatorial nets, blow guns, poison darts, bombs, grenades, flamethrowers, claws, pasta, or garrotes are allowed in the Nightmare Nights Cosplay Contest. Staves, canes, walkers and wands are allowed if the character uses one in the show (Zecora, Granny Smith, Trixie, etc). If you have a question about a prop being allowed, please contact the Cosplay staff either at or directly at the convention and we will consult with Convention Security as to any conditions and allowability.

e.) Stage Rules:

All entries must be able to get on and off the stage safely. This means you must be able to negotiate at least a small, three-step set of stairs. This also means you must be able to see stage marks and Cosplay Staff. If you have visibility or stability issues in your costume, please bring a friend or relative to be your designated handler, so you do not go tumbling off the edge of the stage.

f.) Cast limit:

The maximum number of people per group entry is six (6).

g.) Props:

What goes on stage with you must come off stage with you. For safety reasons, things like confetti, fireworks, glitter, flash paper, rose petals, water and other small messy objects are strictly forbidden to be brought into the stage area. Also, no food, animals or remote control devices are allowed on stage. And no throwing items into the crowd. You’ll put someone’s eye out!

h.) Gymnastics:

One foot must remain on the floor at all times. This means no jumps, leaps or rolls. Climbing onto the stage or leaping off the edge of the stage are both prohibited and extremely dangerous (and will make our insurance premiums skyrocket)!

i.) Time Limits:

Each entry will have exactly one minute to walk across the stage, pose or do a small performance.

j.) Sound:

We will be allowing sound cues for your entry. Please pre-record your sound ahead of time if you have a specific piece in mind. Bear in mind, it must be exactly ONE MINUTE LONG, so some editing may be required on your part. MP3 files can be emailed to the Cosplay Staff ahead of time to You can also bring your MP3 file with you on a USB drive.

k.) Costume Credit:

All costumes must be made by the entrant(s) or credited to the appropriate creator(s) on the entrant’s entry form.

l.) Purchased Costumes:

Purchased costumes (either commissioned, store bought, or eBay costumes) may only make up 50% of the costumes in your group. All purchased costumes MUST be marked as such on your (or your group’s) entry form. Entries using only purchased costumes CANNOT win Best in Show, Second Place, Third Place, Best Prop or Best Craftsmanship awards.


In order to be considered for the Best Craftsmanship award in the Nightmare Nights Cosplay Contest, entrants MUST present themselves to the cosplay judges on Saturday afternoon at line-up time for Cosplay (6pm). THIS IS THE ONLY TIME BLOCK FOR CRAFTSMANSHIP JUDGING. No craftsmanship judging will be done at any other time during the convention. The craftsmanship judges will then inspect the costumes and make notes. Once they have looked your work over, you will be free to go. Judges will endeavor to conduct their inspections as efficiently as possible. Please bring any reference material you wish the judges to peruse at this time. If you choose not to show up on Saturday for the craftsmanship judging, then your costume(s) will NOT be judged for craftsmanship.

If you want to be judged for your craftsmanship, please try to make it during the appointed hours! Since Craftsmanship will be part of the contest line-up, you should be wearing your costume at that time.


The award categories for Nightmare Nights Cosplay Contest are as follows:

1) Best Pony

2) Second Place

3) Third Place

4) Best Craftsmanship

5) Best Prop

6) Most Humorous

7) The People’s Choice (basically, the hands down favorite of the audience, based on audience reaction)

8) Judge’s Awards (to be chosen at the sole discretion of the judges)


Legal Disclaimer: Nightmare Nights Cosplay Staff and Nightmare Nights reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone to the Cosplay Contest for any reason.