Phoenix Comic Fest (formerly Phoenix Comicon) is a massive gathering of comic book, video game, TV and movie enthusiasts that’s become an Arizona entertainment and tourism staple, drawing more than 100,000 fans, typically Memorial Day weekend.
While there are some kid- and family-friendly activities, Comic Fest is primarily for adults. (Think Vegas — while kids are mesmerized by the lights and spectacle of The Strip, not all the scenery is G-rated).
Comic Fest, May 24-27 at the Phoenix Convention Center, enthusiastically encourages cosplay — dressing up like characters from books, video games and movies. Convention-goers get to see, meet and take photos with their favorite superheroes and cartoon characters. Attendees also can meet or get autographs from comic book authors and actors and take in hundreds of exhibits and presentations.
This year’s convention features dozens of Hollywood actors — including Val Kilmer, William Shatner, “Guardians of the Galaxy’s” Michael Rooker and “Mulan’s” Ming-Na Wen — plus comic book writers and artists.
Families should note there are storytimes, kids arts-and-crafts areas and even astronomy and STEAM demonstrations to keep younger fans entertained. Older kids can learn to draw anime or play video and card games.
- Youth Art Room. Crafts, books, coloring and special activities throughout each day for kids and families.
- Disney Fashion Pageant. All Disney princesses, princes, villains, and sidekicks are invited to this magical fashion show.
- Lego Lounge. This room full of Legos boasts pre-built displays, superhero and popular movie themes. It also hosts Lego build competitions.
- Phoenix Saber Academy for Kids. Ages 6 and up can learn footwork, blocks and strikes with foam light sabers (provided).
- Actually, it IS Rocket Science. K-12 students can design, build and launch their own straw rockets.
- Superhero Sidekick Training. Experts from East Valley Krav Maga’s Young Warrior program teach kids superhero moves. Sidekicks will punch, kick and jump their way through superhero training.
- Harry Potter Astronomy. Crawl inside a traveling planetarium for a 30-minute show that includes references to favorite TV shows, books, comic characters and video games.
- KNTR Build-A-Book Program with Steven Riley. Children will create their own stories and illustrations. All Build-a-Book participants will receive a special-edition Arizona Coyotes goodie backpack filled with a new book, Highlights magazine and more.
Though Phoenix Comic Fest has a strict dress code, parents may want to watch for costumes that could make kids uncomfortable, such as too-scary characters. Also, families are encouraged to bring water and to leave oversized strollers at home.