Ldoll Festival has become the most anticipated doll convention in Europe. This year the 2-day event, held in the beautiful French city of Lyon, is celebrating their 5th consecutive year of bringing together in one space both large BJD companies and emerging artists. This year the Guest of Honor is Soom.
Q: Could you tell me how Ldoll came about? Are many of the same people involved for the first event still involved with the current event?
A: Back in 2010, Cycy and Lelahel who were among the first collectors of BJDs in France, noticed that French collectors were more and more frustrated not to have a sizeable meet-up event. Small meet-ups were organized in various parts of France, but many expressed their wish for a bigger event.
Because most things related to BJD happen online (from buying the items, to the virtual community of BJD forums), they wanted to organize a special event where people could share their hobby face to face, and meet their favorite artists in real life. They also always had the hope to help make the hobby better known and show the public how talented doll collectors were.
When Cycy and Lelahel explained their project to their close friends, they all thought it was the most amazing idea and were excited to take part in it. The Ldoll association came to be. The girls dealt with organizing the event all year round in their free time, and they could rely on a crew of 15 friends and family members who all volunteered to help run the event on the day. They took a risk and booked an exhibition space of 1000m² in one of the most popular event hall of their hometown. Five years later, those 15 friends were joined by 4 more, and they still all proudly wear the Ldoll staff shirt at Ldoll Festival. One of them, Jaina, joined Cycy and Lelahel in 2012 as the third member of the organization team.
The number of exhibitors attending the event has exploded from the first edition to this fifth edition. On Ldoll’s first edition we had around 30 vendors, and we’ve reached a critical number of 119 this year!
Q: Why did you decide to hold the event in October?
A: The choice of having the event in October came from a close look at what other events were happening in France along the year, and consequently what was the best window of opportunity for us to have as many visitors and exhibitors as possible. It was also easier for us to have the event after the summer months which are usually a calmer period at our respective jobs and gives us more time to take care of all the final details and preparation of Ldoll Festival.
Q: What are some of the events you include every year? Is there anything new planned for this year?
A: From the start, we saw Ldoll Festival as having three main components: the market place, where visitors could meet artists and get all their BJD items; the meet-up area, where the community could gather and create bonds; and the contests, which would promote collectors’ talents and give a chance to everyone to win a beautiful prize.
Our photography contest, customization contest and raffle have been in place since the first edition. Last year we completed our event program with a cosplay contest and face-up challenge. Both events have been a hit, and we are definitely rescheduling them as a permanent feature. We are always on the lookout for new animation ideas that will please our visitors, and we are definitely ready to experiment.
This year though, we are focusing on improving our two new contests, and we are going to work hard on the atmosphere, so that everyone feels like they’re attending a fun birthday party on top of a doll convention.
Q: Other than in size, can you tell me how the event has changed over the 5 years it has run?
A: After five years of Ldoll, we are proud that our event has truly entered the realm of professional conventions. We have reached a level of service both for exhibitors and visitors that equals that of much bigger events, without losing its community spirit. It has not grown impersonal, on the contrary we are always striving to keep a fair level of entertainment and fun for everyone. I think for example the public feels the friendship between the staff members – we have fun together and that way they can have fun with us!
In terms of identity, Ldoll Festival has always kept a close eye on the trends of the BJD market and the interests of collectors. We have always had the intention to slowly open toward other types of dolls related to the world of BJD collectors, and thus we are now not only the biggest European resin BJD convention, but the biggest convention for Pullips and artist dolls as well.