As the main cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is setting the trend for every crypto market growth cycle. However, after the first rally, where BTC drags along other cryptos, the situation usually reverses.

Historically, these other cryptos – also called altcoins – used to gain momentum after the Bitcoin halving event. These periods were marked by altcoins’ noteworthy price appreciation, which surpassed Bitcoin price significantly. Driven by new project launches, technological advancements, increasing utility, and often pure speculation, the market shifted its focus to altcoins, setting off the so-called altcoin season.

So far, this cycle seems to repeat the usual trend, and the halving scheduled for April 15th might trigger a similar chain of events as the previous ones did in 2020 and 2016. As we approach the halving and Bitcoin price wobbles, some analysts argue that altcoin season is close – which means it’s time to prepare ourselves to seize its opportunities.

History of altcoin seasons

The first altcoin season worthy of this name happened in late 2017. Bitcoin dominance started that year at 83% and plummeted to an all-time low of just 32% by January 2018. Helped by the ICO boom, $ETH witnessed an impressive surge (many ICOs were launched on Ethereum), together with the coins of Ripple, Litecoin, Cardano, and Stellar. During this period, the total crypto market cap grew from around $30 billion to over $600 billion.

The next altcoin season started in 2021, when Bitcoin dominance fell from 70% to 38% in several months. This period was marked by a massive boom in DeFi, NFTs, and memecoins. This also benefited Ethereum, but also its layer-2 Polygon, Binance’s newly launched BNB, Solana, and the infamous Terra, among others. $DOGE and $SHIB surged spectacularly, showing that even memecoins should be reckoned with. The total crypto market cap surged past $3 trillion for the first time.

The Bitcoin dominance chart depicts these events:

Source: Trading View

Will history repeat itself?

Currently, Bitcoin market cap is $1.3 trillion, and other coins, conveniently measured by the Cryptocap’s TOTAL2 index, amount to $1.1 trillion.

Comparing Bitcoin market cap to TOTAL2 starting from the depths of 2019’s bear market illustrates well the interplay between these types of assets. Historically, Bitcoin rallies a couple of months before the halving, then dips and/or trades sideways for several weeks, before resuming its ascent to new highs. At one moment during this ascent, altcoins surge.

Source: Trading View

If this cycle is to repeat the previous ones, the real altcoin season should kick in approximately a year from now. However, some analysts argue that it might come earlier this time, taking into account that BTC has already reached an all-time high last month, and the cycle might be shorter.

Top altcoin narratives in 2024

While the timing of the altcoin season is uncertain, its arrival is quite probable. This means that it could be useful to prepare a watchlist of the season’s key narratives and look out for the buying opportunities.

This list can include both old and new coins, with the latter naturally carrying more upside potential (and more risk).

Among the crypto veterans that have shown their relevance and resilience over time, Solana and Avax have emerged as the main competitors of Ethereum and BNB in the general blockchain category.

Among the more specialized blockchains catering to the crypto gaming narrative, Immutable X and Ronin are the current leaders. Coingecko is now evaluating this sector’s market capitalization at $17billion.

The AI-related coins are this season’s debutants, with AGIX,, and Ocean leading in this domain, now valued at $25 billion.

DePIN, or decentralized infrastructure, is not a new, but an increasingly sought-after sector, with Filecoin, Arweave, and Chainlink among the most popular protocols. This sector’s market capitalization is at $30 billion.

For the amateurs of memecoins, the new Solana-based coins like Dogwifhat are gaining momentum, offering a fun, albeit dangerous opportunity. The overall memecoins market cap of $61.5 billion, however, shows that the interest in these (seemingly) whimsical assets is very real.

In the decentralized social media domain (DeSoc), Telegram’s $TON is making waves. With a $17.5 billion market cap, it has become the 8th-biggest altcoin (excluding stablecoins).

Finally, the RWA, or tokenized real-world assets, is a popular trend in crypto finance and a larger fintech space. Ondo Finance and XDC are the biggest market caps in this category, but its overall market cap of $8 billion is relatively small.