As anyone with a LEGO enthusiast in their home knows, LEGO bricks present nearly endless possibilities for play ranging from free-form building with loose bricks, to imaginative play with minifigures, to reenactments of favorite stories with licensed sets including Star Wars and the Hobbit. LEGO KidsFest is an enormous traveling expo that takes the magic of LEGO bricks to a select few cities each year. For the first time in its history, LEGO KidsFest is coming to a city within driving distance of D.C this year with a stop in Richmond, VA.
LEGO KidsFest will offer children the opportunity to play with LEGO bricks in ways they already love by offering the chance to play with LEGO bricks based upon classic and new product lines, including new Chima and LEGO Friends sets. But, LEGO KidsFest will also provide LEGO fans with the opportunity to play with LEGO bricks in ways they cannot experience at home. Nowhere else will you be able to jump into a 20 foot by 20 foot LEGO pit that goes three feet deep or be a part of filling in a basketball-court sized outline of the United States with your own LEGO creations.
LEGO Mike will also be on hand to lead teams of LEGO builders formed on-site in building exercises that teach engineering skills, such as constructing LEGO bridges that can support a large amount of weight and very high towers. KidsFest is also part traveling museum and is the only place you will be able to see life-sized models of Lighting McQueen, Harry Potter, and C3PO among others. Another highlight of LEGO KidsFest is the ability to ask questions of Master Builders who will be on-site. There are only seven Master Builders in the entire country so this is an extremely rare opportunity that is highlight of the trip for some LEGO fans.
Aaron Wartner is one of the Master Builders who is traveling with this year’s LEGO KidsFest. When I asked him what makes a trip to the expo worth a two hour ride from D.C., he said that he has heard more than one child tell their parents that going to LEGO KidsFest was the best day of their lives. Although that alone would make it worth it trip, Aaron also thinks KidsFest is a fantastic opportunity for multiple generations to play with one another as it is not unusual to see grandparents, parents, and children collaborate on a project or build side-by-side.
Aaron also shared that LEGO has gone to great lengths to ensure LEGO KidsFest is enjoyable for everyone from die-hard fans to those just developing an interest LEGO. Limited admission timed sessions mean that kids should never have to wait to play in any of the many building and play areas at the expo. LEGO also wants KidsFest to be accessible for families with children of different ages and interest levels in LEGO. To ensure this is the case, KidsFest incorporates features such as a designated area for smaller children to play with DUPLOS, a space dedicated to the pastel Friends line, and some non-LEGO activities where children can make crafts or meet a local sports personality. Aaron stressed that LEGO typically does not hold KidsFest in the same area multiple times so it may be years before the expo makes a stop so close to D.C. again. Aaron told me that it is not unusual for people to drive 10 or more hours to attend KidsFest, making Richmond seem like a trip around the corner from our area.
LEGO KidsFest will be in Richmond, VA from February 15 to 17, 2013. Tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for children and can be purchased at www.legokidsfest.com. Tickets are for timed sessions and Saturday and Sunday sessions are sold out. When planning your trip, keep in mind that DC Public Schools are closed on February 15th and that February 18th is Presidents day giving LEGO fans some additional flexibility in attending KidsFest.
If you cannot make it to Richmond for LEGO KidsFest but still want to build with LEGO bricks you can find one of the largest selections of LEGO bricks in the area at one of Barston’s Child’s Play’s five area locations. There is also a LEGO store located in Tyson’s Corner and Woodbridge that hosts monthly builds.
At Day at Lego KidsFest
February 16, 2013
It’s finally here! LEGO KidsFest is a vast expo filled with more activities than can be done in just a few hours. My family stayed for over three hours and didn’t come close to doing everything there was to do. The highlight for my kids was jumping and building in the a giant LEGO brick pile so wide and deep that scores of children could jump in and even cover themselves from neck to toe in LEGO bricks. My entire family was impressed with the detail of the many life-sized “museum pieces” made out of LEGO bricks. Building areas abound, some with the general “creator” theme, some featuring monochromatic bricks, and some tied to specific product lines, such as Heroes. My children liked having the opportunity to play with some lines that we don’t have at home and some of the brand-new sets such as the much-anticipated Chima line. We were also able to play a very fun LEGO brick board game, which we hadn’t known existed prior to attending LEGO KidsFest. There were so many exhibits that most didn’t have any wait at all at the wait times for the more popular exhibits were short.
Thousands of people enter at once. At the session we attended the majority of visitors clustered around the exhibits closest to the entrance while the exhibits towards the center and back were less crowded. If you go, it may be good strategy to start at the back of the room and work your way towards the front rather than the other way around. While there were several exhibits dedicated to specific LEGO brick lines, nearly all of the larger exhibits focused on LEGO-created lines, such as Ninjago, Chima, and Friends, while branded lines such as Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were less well represented.
No outside food or drink is allowed into LEGO KidsFest but there are several concession stands in the exhibit area selling a variety of food. There are also two Marketplaces. Once sells sets and the other sells LEGO brick-themed merchandise including t-shirts and books.
My family traveled two hours to attend this year’s LEGO KidsFest and I’m very glad we made the trip!
Hopefully Lego KidsFest will be back in the greater DC metro area in years to come. And if we can recommend one thing it would be to purchase your tickets early to ensure you are able to attend on your preferred day and time.