If you have some young geeklings around, you may have considered finding a convention to attend as a family. Here’s the good news: the vast majority of the sci-fi, anime, and pop-culture cons in the Twin Cities welcome families, offering discounted and/or free admission for younger attendees and marking panels meant only for older audiences to prevent sudden surprises.
However, just because a convention touts itself as being family friendly and offers a lower rate for kids doesn’t always make it truly ideal for a family. Kids and young adults have different needs than adults. Most people need some downtime at conventions, for example; when there’s a space meant for smaller geeks, it makes it more pleasant for everyone (including fellow attendees). These rooms may have scheduled events, such as crafts, STEM activities, movies, or video-game tournaments, but they also usually include an open sandbox element. They may even also provide a place to take care of the younger geeks, offering a place for diaper changes, feedings, and naps or a place for expressing milk.
So, which cons are more truly kid friendly than others? The conventions on this list all have some element (beyond discounted admission) that is specifically focused at younger fans. As always, every kid is incredibly unique—your geekling may be perfectly happy attending panels for an entire weekend. Their favorite con may not be included on this list.
VGM Con (February 22–24, 2019)
Kid-friendly features: Strings Clinic designed for middle school youth (but open to all ages)
MarsCon (March 1–3, 2019)
Kid-friendly features: Youth room with youth-oriented programming
Minicon (April 19–21, 2019)
St. Louis Park, MN
Kid-friendly features: Youth room with youth-oriented programming, teen room
Teen Lit Con (April 27, 2019)
Mendota Heights, MN
Kid-friendly features: Teen-oriented convention
MCBA Spring ComiCon (May 18–19, 2019)
Kid-friendly features: Youth-oriented activities, children’s costume contest for kids under 12 on Saturday
MLP-MSP (June 14–16, 2019)
Kid-friendly features: Youth-oriented programming, convention designated family friendly until 8:00 p.m.
CONvergence (July 4–7, 2019)
Kid-friendly features: Teen room, parenting room
LionCon (September 21–22, 2019)
St. Cloud, MN
Kid-friendly features: Kids’ cosplay contest for 13 and under, youth-oriented activities
MCBA Fall ComiCon (TBA, generally early October)
Kid-friendly features: Youth-oriented activities
Anime Fusion (October 18th-20th)
Kid-friendly features: Family room
Galaxy Con (November 8-10)
Kid-friendly features: Kids’ cosplay contest for 13 and under