The multi-convention experience that is Denver’s StarFest returns to the Denver Marriott Tech Center, 4900 South Syracuse, for a three-day extravaganza of all things geek, April 20 to 22. StarFest began in 1977, just as Star Wars mania was about to hit the world, and all things Trek were still king. Back then, it was mainly a sci-fi convention, but over the years StarFest has grown to be more of a collection of conventions under a single banner: horror, comics, games of all types, robot aficionados, Klingon groupies, and of course science and sci-fi fans all come together to socialize, shop, and celebrate the various hobbies and passions that tie the nerd communities together.
So it’s three days of nerdtastic awesome. But what are the highlights coming at you in 2018? What are those things worth planning around, waiting in line for, maybe even paying more to make sure you do? Here are five of the highlights to fill every nook and cranny of your ever-loving geeky hearts.
LeVar Burton is known for a number of important things, most of them having to do with his career as an actor. As the star of Roots (which aired in 1977, the same year StarFest began), he helped bring Alex Haley’s seminal book to the small screen and into living rooms across America. As Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Geordie La Forge, he was the “blind” pilot/chief engineer that kept the Enterprise running (except when plot lines demanded otherwise). But his most important role? As himself, hosting the humble and lovable Reading Rainbow, where for 23 years (1983 to 2006) he encouraged kids to read by reading to them. That right there makes the man a hero in my book.
The Federation Ball
Don’t let the name fool you: This isn’t just a Star Trek event. Everyone attending StarFest is invited to come out and shake whatever booty they might have, be it human, alien, robotic, aquatic, lupine, or some weird combo thereof. Who are we to judge? It’s all about family-friendly fun, and it goes on Saturday night from 9 p.m. to midnight. Cost is only $4 per person, and proceeds benefit the American Diabetes Association, the Denver Dumb Friends League, and OMEGAResponders. Costumes are welcome but not mandatory. But here’s the question: Will the proceedings include the song-stylings of William “Captain Kirk” Shatner? Only time — and Saturday night — will tell, kids.
Art Fest and ModelFest
If you’ve ever admired the cover of a favorite fantasy novel, read a comic book or spent the time, patience and glue required to put together a scale model…then you have an appreciation for what fellow artisans will put on display (and possibly up for sale) in both ArtFest and ModelFest. ArtFest includes paintings, prints, illustrations, pottery and sculptures; ModelFest focuses on the most amazing and intricate re-creations of your favorite vehicles and scenes, lovingly and painstakingly detailed. Both events are attractions well worth your time and attention…and maybe some of your spending money.
Tales From Avistrum
Are you like pretty much everyone else who grew up on the Harry Potter books, and have at one point or another imagined yourself at Hogwarts, or catching the Express on Platform 9¾, or downing a butterbeer in Hogsmeade or on Diagon Alley? Well, you’re in luck (and you don’t have to travel to Universal Studios parks, either). Tales From Avistrum is an interactive entertainment experience set in J.K Rowling’s fictional world of magic and muggles. Activities include a quidditch tournament, charms and divination classes, and even wizards' Jeopardy. Registration is required, but all events are free with your registration to the convention, and for all ages. Kids under twelve must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or Hagrid-sized equivalent.
All the Cosplay
StarFest is known for amazing cosplay, walking, talking fan art. Just remember: There are actual, you know, people under those costumes and that makeup, and it’s not just polite to treat them with respect, but required. Cosplay is not consent. But marveling at the artistry? Complimenting someone on what they clearly spent countless hours and significant money re-creating out of sheer devotion? Giving someone a thumbs-up, and recognizing their effort? All these things are happily free and encouraged, both at the Saturday night Werks3D Costume Contest and over all three geek-filled days.
StarFest, April 20 to 22, Denver Marriott Tech Center, 4900 South Syracuse Street, $25 to $150.