Concerts with Kids: A Bonding Experience


I remember my first concert. It was the Summer Magic Tour for New Kids on the Block. My uncle won tickets off the radio and gave them to my mom to take me. We got dropped off at the venue and I remember thinking it was huge; I worried I would lose my mom in the crowd. I got a t-shirt, which was way too big for me, but I wore it as pajamas for years. It was an amazing experience, one that I’ve remembered my whole life. I’ve since gone to many concerts with my mom and I knew when I had children of my own it was going to be something I looked forward to experiencing with them, too.

Concerts with Kids: A Bonding Experience | Duluth Moms Blog

The First Time

When my oldest was nine, my friend and I decided we would surprise our daughters with tickets to see Katy Perry. We were excited about going, but when we surprised the girls with tickets, they didn’t get it. They had never had a concert experience and didn’t have a frame of reference to draw from. We thought we’d get a YouTube-worthy screaming and jumping reaction, but we got the opposite: blank stares and confusion. The night of the concert, the girls knew it was going to be fun, but they still weren’t totally there. Then Katy Perry came out on stage and my daughter understood what was in store for the evening. The look on her face was absolutely everything I had hoped it would be.

It reminded me of when we took her to Disney when she was three and Cinderella waved at my daughter. She turned to me with tears in her eyes and said, “She waved at ME, mom! She saw ME!” (That’s my quick plug about how much I love Disney). Watching my daughter see Katy Perry on stage and have her say, “Mom, that is ACTUALLY her! She’s FOR REAL on stage! Do you see her?!” was a magical parenting moment.

I took my son to his first concert this past summer, he saw Death Cab for Cutie. The two of us drove to Mankato, went to Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store, survived insane traffic at rush hour, stayed in a hotel, and went to a concert in a venue I had never been in. He also had no idea what to expect and while his reaction was much more low-key than my daughter’s had been, I know he had a really great time. We even got to stand next to the band’s tour bus and take his picture. On the drive home it dawned on me that it isn’t even the concert that’s the best part, it’s knowing we were creating one-on-one memories.

Concerts with Kids: A Bonding Experience | Duluth Moms Blog

Planned vs. Surprise

If you follow me on Facebook you have likely seen one of my quick videos of surprising my kids. I did it for the first time we went to Wisconsin Dells. hey had no idea until we pulled into the parking lot of Great Wolf Lodge and they were so excited. I’ve also taken to doing this with concerts. I frequently scan Ticketmaster for things coming to the area (within reasonable driving distance) because I like to go to concerts myself quite a bit. If I see something they would like, I think about the logistics of getting them there and back (is it a school night, can we afford it, can I figure out child care for the other kids, etc.), and if I can swing it I’ll buy tickets.

I might not even tell them.

On Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour I didn’t tell my daughter until we got in the car to go. I held those tickets for almost a year and didn’t tell her and it was SO HARD. It was her birthday present and we had run errands as a family that morning and when we came home I told her we had one more to do, and sent everyone else into the house. I took a video of her opening her ticket and it was so great. She bounced in the front seat the entire way to US Bank Stadium. She had the best time. We had nosebleeds but she didn’t care because she had so much fun.

This past summer I did the same thing but with Shawn Mendes tickets. I bought tickets for those the day before the concert because I saw there were a few left and this time I brought both of my older kids, told them in the car. That video had a little more reaction in it because they are in a big Shawn Mendes phase right now. It ended up being an amazing show for all three of us.

Concerts with Kids: A Bonding Experience

Just a few weeks ago I took my daughter and her friend to see 5 Seconds of Summer and The Chainsmokers. To be honest, I don’t know much about either of these so while this isn’t one I would have gone to for fun, they had a great time. They knew about this months in advance and it was kind of fun to watch them do a countdown leading up to it and get so excited, plan out outfits, etc.

I think deciding whether to tell them ahead of time or well in advance is up to you- it’s fun either way. I don’t really have a method to my madness, but there has always been something about seeing the surprise register on my face that makes me so happy.


While Duluth doesn’t have a whole ton of concerts come through, we’re lucky to have Amsoil Arena because it’s small, it’s easy to navigate, and we’re familiar with it. I would have no problem dropping a couple of teenagers off and doing my own thing.


I am a paranoid mom so I have never dropped my kids off at concerts. I don’t feel like there is a price that replaces peace of mind so I’m happy to buy a ticket and sit there. It’s always an experience to go to live events. Almost all of the time we find ourselves driving to the Twin Cities and just as I have done since I was 22, I drive down and back the same night. No hotel stays for me. While that gets to be a long night, it’s kind of become part of the experience. Loading up on snacks at midnight in Hinckley while getting gas is mandatory.

While there are a lot of venues in the Twin Cities area, I’m not familiar with navigating those two cities so I tend to stick with events at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. I’ve always found that there is a ton of parking, there are a couple of tween/teen friendly restaurants nearby, and the area is incredibly well lit for the walk back to your vehicle after the event.

Don’t balk at parking prices if there is an easy access to the highway. Not being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the way to a highway exit is worth everything, especially late at night and you have a long distance to drive home.


I am not the mom who insists their teenager wear a child leash but I do use concerts as opportunities to teach them about common sense personal safety. We talk about safety in numbers (especially as women), keeping your purse to your body and zipped shut, having a phone readily accessible in case of emergency. I always teach them to learn their surroundings before we go in (how do you get back to the car if we get separated, what street are we on, what door did we come in, etc.), make sure they have their ticket on them and know how to get to our seats. I usually make them figure out how we get to our seats because I want them to know how to navigate a large venue and figure out how to find help.

We talk about never going off with someone you don’t know and you never go alone, not even to the bathroom. Cover your drinks (because so many no longer let you have lids, caps, or straws), and how to handle being next to/around someone who is really drunk or annoying. Believe it or not, concerts and other live entertainment is an amazing place to learn a lot of life skills.

Dad teaches them how to fix things and how to figure technology things out; I am in charge of exposing them to tons of books and of course,  going to concerts. I want them to know there are different ways to meet people, entertain yourself, and learn things. There is a world beyond YouTube and Netflix and there will never be anything better than live music.