Fan Expo is returning to Toronto this weekend in the 17th annual celebration of all things geeky. The four-day event begins on August 25 with a schedule full of things sure to set geek hearts a flutter.

Visitors often attend in costume, whether it be anime, steampunk, or comic inspired. The 501st Legion, a group that dresses in Star Wars costumes, has a lot planned for guests this year, including activities for the little padawans, or Jedi masters. The costumes can be quite impressive, and while many won’t mind if you snap a photo, be sure to ask permission first.

Actors from beloved shows and movies — both classic and more recent — will make an appearance to meet and greet their enthusiastic fans. You can get autographs and pictures with these guests (for a fee, unfortunately). As well, many actors will be holding panels to answer questions from fans, and to share humourous stories of their experiences on set.

Star Trek fans can look forward to seeing William Shatner (the original Captain Kirk), who is scheduled to attend the screening of The Captains, a documentary that follows the actors who have played the role of captain throughout the movies and TV shows.

Special guests this year also include actors Marina Airtis, (Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO, Star Wars), Tom Felton (Draco, Harry Potter), Eliza Dushku (Echo, Dollhouse), and Barbara Eden (Jeannie, I Dream of Jeannie).

Actors are not the only big names making an appearance at Fan Expo. A whole slew of artists and writers will be there as well. Both Axel Alonso, the editor-in-chief of Marvel, and Dan DiDio, the co-publisher of DC are expected to attend, representing the two main players in the comic industry.

Artist Alley is a great place to wander through for original art, as well as drawings of old favourites. It’s also a good place for portfolio reviews, where visitors can show their work to industry experts and get feedback.

When fans aren’t busy waiting in line for face time with celebrities, Fan Expo also has a variety of activities to keep them busy. Teletoon will be screening the season four première of the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

But perhaps the best souvenirs come from the companies trying to promote their brands, leaving visitors with loads of freebies. With posters, comics, buttons, DVDs and t-shirts up for grabs, you just might think Christmas has come early. DC comics in particular has gained a reputation for giving away a good haul of treats.

What you can’t get for free of course you can certainly buy. Looking for some good comics? The perfect gift for your nephew? Or maybe you’d like to update your wardrobe so you look like the cast of the Big Bang Theory? Well this is the place to do it.

– Photo courtesy of CavinB