Toy Fair to Remain in New York City Amid Community Outcry

October 16, 2023

For the attendees and exhibitors of Toy Fair, North America’s largest trade show and conference for the $40 billion toy industry, there’s no place like its home in the Big Apple for more than a century. After The Toy Association announced on Oct. 1 that it was moving the Toy Fair from New York’s Javits Center to the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for three years starting in 2026, the association quickly reversed course when faced with overwhelming community outrage. The Toy Fair will stay in New York City in its traditional Q1 time frame, returning March 1-4, 2025, to the Javits Center.

“While we aimed to adapt to the perceived shifts in our industry, the announcement of that change was met with strong feelings of tradition and enduring memories of toy business conducted in New York,” said Toy Association’s Board Chairman and Crazy Aaron’s Founder Aaron Muderick. “We were swiftly reminded of our industry’s passionate bond to a place that no amount of research, conversation and learning had sufficiently surfaced. As a board, we have heard clearly that this change was the wrong choice for our members.”

Back story

According to Toy Association officials, the decision to move the massive industry event was made after numerous association members requested it be moved from February to mid-January to accommodate changing industry buying schedules. This year, the 118th edition of the Toy Fair was held Sept. 30-Oct. 3 – following a more than three-year pandemic-fueled hiatus ­– in response to attendee and exhibitor requests. 

“In 2022, in response to consistent decade-long industry feedback and further fueled by unique challenges posed during the pandemic, Toy Fair was shifted to the fall with a goal of aligning to evolving dynamics in the industry,” explained Muderick in an Oct. 13 letter to association members. “However, as it became clear that travel and business behavior was returning to more historical patterns, new feedback was received that would result in a trade show returning to the beginning of the year, ideally in January.” 


Because Javits couldn’t accommodate the show’s newly requested time frame, the association launched a comprehensive nationwide review of cities for a site that could host the show in January, he added.

While feedback from the recent Toy Fair was positive, the response about future January show timing and relocation of the show away from New York City was anything but. 

“It has become abundantly clear through the passionate reaction, that the place holds as much or more importance than the date, and that the industry’s desired location for the great industry-wide coming together remains New York City,” Muderick continued. “Thus, we have recommitted to New York and the Javits Center. We will return to the first available opening (March 1-4, 2025) and are working with Javits Center leadership to confirm dates in February for 2026 and beyond.”

He added, “While February may not be completely perfect for all, given that Toy Fair has been held during this time for nearly a century, we expect that it can be perfectly imperfect for the vast majority of members, exhibitors and buyers.” 

Muderick expressed his gratitude to the city of New Orleans, one of the few destinations in the country able to successfully host shows as large and complex as Toy Fair, he said.  

“Conversations with New Orleans & Company, as well as the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, were collaborative and exceeded our expectations,” he said. “Through speaking with multiple cities, we can wholeheartedly say they are an incredible team of meeting professionals.”

What’s next 

In addition to restoring Toy Fair’s position and timing in New York City, the association will host a pop-up Toy Fair Pavilion at the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market at Dallas Market Center Jan. 10-13, 2024, and is exploring the options of hosting additional gatherings in Los Angeles, which has emerged as a hub for early fall previews, starting in August/September 2024. 

“We are both energized and optimistic about the path ahead, although in retrospect, we recognize our shortcomings in the communication and decision-making process,” he said. “We’re committed to learning from these lessons and ensuring clearer, more inclusive dialogues in the future.”


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