Animation festivals are prime spots to mingle with other animators and industry leaders, learn about and test cutting-edge animation technologies and be inspired by new animations. Many festivals even offer contests and competitions for animators to show off their skills and recognize their talent. Often for busy animators, finding the time to travel and go to them can be a challenge.

Each year, there are hundreds of art and animation festivals held around the world. But, these 7 animation festivals should be at the top of your list.

1. South by Southwest (SXSW)

One of the biggest and most well-known events is South by Southwest (SXSW). The film festival portion is held in Austin, Texas from March 10-19 and honors the winners of categories like animated shorts, documentaries and more. The deadline for the 2017 admission has passed but there are many more reasons to attend the festival than to compete or celebrate the winners. It is one of the most attended events for industry leaders and features some of the most innovative animation technologies.

2. Sundance Film Festival

Another well-known and prestigious event is the Sundance Film Festival. Top film directors, writers, animators, actors and other creators gather to view and honor the best in the industry.  One of the greatest benefits of attending one of the Sundance festivals is that tickets can give you access to early film premieres as well as exclusive parties and events with industry professionals.  

The festival is taking place from January 19-29, 2017, in Park City, Utah (United States). The submission period for 2017 has already passed, but Sundance has several other international events held at different locations and times throughout the year. An international festival will also be held in London in June 2017.

3. GLAS Animation Festival

A lesser-known, yet intimate event, GLAS Animation Festival is held in Berkeley, California from March 2-5, 2017. Although smaller, it is sponsored by some top animation companies and influencers such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Brew. Also, special guests like animation legend Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille) make it a can’t miss event.

GLAS Animation Festival 2016 Trailer from GLAS Animation on Vimeo.

4. Annecy International

The Annecy International Animated Film Festival takes place in Paris, France from June 12-17, 2017. The festival partners with Mifa, or the International Animation Film Market. It is a great event to make connections with networks and others that are interested in financing, selling or distributing animation content.

5. Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film

One of the top annual animation events in the world will be held in Stuttgart, Germany from May 1-7, 2017. The festival showcases film, video and computer game animation. During the event there are multiple film viewings as well as an award ceremony. You can submit an entry to the festival until January 15, 2017.

6. D23 Expo

If you are a Disney fan, which most animation enthusiasts are, D23 Expo is the place to be. Although more of a fan convention than a film festival, it showcases what is next for the world leader in animation. There are also special events with Disney filmmakers and celebrities as well as fun events like a Mousequerade costume contest. The convention will take place in Anaheim, California, from July 14-16, 2017, and tickets are on sale now.

7. VIEW Conference

The VIEW Conference will be hosted in Turin, Italy from October 23-27, 2017. The event will host some of the biggest names in animation. Here are just a few of the expected 2017 guests: Mike Mitchell (TROLLS Director), Conrad Vernon (Sausage Party Co-Director) and Byron Howard (Zootopia Director). Besides the amazing guest speakers, the conference holds animation workshops, recruitment events and a Games Bootcamp.