If you’ve been to a Renaissance festival or a Renaissance fair, you know that they’re all about the show. The settings are often realistic recreations of 16th century European — particularly English — villages. Performers dressed in Renaissance costumes become colorful village characters, inviting you into scenes that often involve an appearance by Queen Elizabeth, who presides over jousting matches or proffers knighthood on worthy villagers.
These interactive, affordable events provide a lot of family entertainment value, and are worth working into your travel plans. While there can be adult content and attendees dressed in interesting costumes, many Renaissance fairs make a concerted effort to attract families with daytime, age-appropriate programs and activities. The following 10 long-standing Renaissance fairs are among the best for children.
Written by Traci L. Suppa
The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire - Irwindale, CA
A variety of entertainment takes place on 13 stages, along with a fully armored joust, music, dancing, parades, rides, games and food. Children can have their face painted or hair braided in the village marketplace, home to 125 artisans.
Everyone is encouraged to come in costume or rent one onsite, and children's sizes are available. Within Kids' Kingdom, children's activities include games, crafts, storytelling, songs, shows and character interaction. Popular programs include the Gnome Quest, Merlin's School of Magic and the children's Knighting Ceremony.
Saturdays and Sundays, Apr. 7 to May 20, 2018
Box office prices for daily admission are $29.95 for adults, $15 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children 4 and under. Discounts are available if purchased in advance online.
Find Pasadena Family Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: Hilton Pasadena
Scarborough Renaissance Festival - Waxahachie, TX
Offerings specifically geared toward children include attractions such as the Mermaid Lagoon, petting zoo and pony rides, plus Renaissance rides such as Jacob's Ladder, a joust ride and climbing tower. The Whimsey Stage is dedicated to kid-focused entertainment.
April 7 to May 28, 2018
Gate prices are $28 for adults and $13 for kids age 5 to 12. Parking is free as well.
Find Dallas Family Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: Omni Dallas Hotel at Park West
Georgia Renaissance Festival - Fairburn, GA
Children's entertainment includes several popular stage shows, including the "Cirque du Todd" juggling and balancing show; the "Barely Balanced" acrobats; and the birds of prey show. In addition to a petting farm and maze, there is a children's play area with rides and games.
Saturdays and Sundays, April 14 to June 3, 2018
General admission is $23.95 for adults ages 13 and up and $11.95 for children ages 6 to 12.
Find Atlanta Family Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation
Oklahoma Renaissance Festival - Muskogee, OK
Shows are continuously running on 15 stages, with performances including a children's knighting ceremony, magicians, jugglers, musicians, dancers, acrobats and jousters. The Children"s Realm is a dedicated area with games, hands-on demonstrations and activities, including the Queen's Quest. Kids are welcome at separately priced meal events, including the Queen's Tea, Royal Luncheon and Pirate's Feast.
April 28-29; May 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-28; June 2-3
Gate admission fees are $16.95 for adults, $7.95 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and under. Discounts are available if purchased online in advance.
Recommended Hotel: Hampton Inn Muskogee
Tennessee Renaissance Festival - Arrington, TN
In addition to tours of the castle, families will find other highlights including several stages of entertainment and roving musicians, camel rides, and more than 60 man-powered rides.
There are games and rides for children, as well as shows featuring birds of prey, jugglers, comedians, pirates and more. Kids' activities also include a children's knighting ceremony, costume contest, arts and crafts area, and a visit from Robin Hood and Maid Marian, who involve the kids in an interactive stage performance.
May 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27, 28
Ticket prices are $25 for adults, $10 for children age 6 to 12, and free for children ages 5 and under. Parking is free, as well.
Find Nashville Family Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: The Hermitage Hotel
Bristol Renaissance Faire - Kenosha, WI
Other kid-inspired experiences include more than 30 games and rides, magic shows, storytelling, tea parties, pike drills, toy ship sailing on Mouseboro Pond and Bristol's Kids Kingdom, a playground with a pirate ship, giant sandbox, crafts and its own theater. Queen Elizabeth shows up to dub all children lords and ladies.
Saturdays and Sundays, July 7 to Sept. 3, 2018 and Labor Day
Box office prices for daily admission are $25.95 for adults, $11.50 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children ages 4 and under. Discounts are available if purchased online in advance.
Recommended Hotel: BEST WESTERN Executive Inn
New York Renaissance Faire - Tuxedo Park, N.Y.
Your admission covers all of the day's live entertainment, in many genres that you can only enjoy at this type of event, such as jousting by knights on horses and living chess matches between Robin Hood's Merry Band and the Sheriff of Nottingham's crew. There are several stages and performance spaces for magicians, comedy troupes, storytellers, birds of prey demonstrations, rope-walkers, aerial acrobats and more.
Kids' programs include the day-long interactive adventure and the Enchanted Forest, where you'll encounter a faerie coven communicating with each other in their own language.
Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day, Aug. 4 to Sept. 30, 2018
Box office prices for daily admission are $29.95 for adults, $13 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children 4 and under. Discounts are available if purchased online in advance.
Find Hudson River Valley Family Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: Courtyard by Marriott Mahwah
Minnesota Renaissance Festival - Shakopee, MN
This festival is a bargain, especially for families, as it promises 50 free activities suited for kids. Several of these are fun crafts to create fairy wands or pirate hats. They can also learn how to be a juggling master, take combat training, go on a scavenger hunt or visit the reptile petting zoo. Wearing costumes is encouraged, and a costume contest takes place first thing each morning. The first prize is free festival admission that day.
Saturdays and Sundays, Aug. 18 to Sept. 30, 2018
At the gate, tickets are $24.95 for adults, $15.95 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children 4 and under. Families can get a discount if they purchase tickets online in advance of the event.
Find Minneapolis Family Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: BEST WESTERN PLUS Bloomington
Maryland Renaissance Festival - Annapolis, MD
The free entertainment includes acrobats and aerial arts, archery, comedy, juggling, knife throwing, sword swallowing, magic shows and more. A children's program lists the shows and activities geared toward pre-school and school-aged children. Festival fare includes plenty of kid-pleasing treats like hot apple dumplings, mac and cheese on a stick and Belgian waffles.
August 25, 26; September 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30; October 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21
Tickets prices at the gate vary, but are cheaper during the first seven days of the festival.
Find Annapolis Family Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: Loews Annapolis Hotel
Fishers Renaissance Faire - Fishers, IN
To promote the bond between Fishers and its sister city of Billericay, England, the two-day Faire recreates the shire of Billericay Village, circa 1579, on the day of a visit from Queen Elizabeth. In preparation for her arrival, the town celebrates with music, dancing, shows, parades, games, food and demonstrations from more than 50 artisans and vendors.
Reenactments of period events -- featuring hundreds of characters in period costumes -- include knighting and wedding ceremonies, as well as jousting and dance performances. Specifically for kids, there are free games, puppet shows, a cast parade and the Faerie Glade, where you can catch a show at the Faerie Tale Theatre, walk the Faerie Path or picnic with fairies in the Glen of the Faire Folk.
The event takes place over one weekend, Oct. 6 and 7, 2018.
Admission fees at the gate are $14 for adults, $5 for children age 5 to 12, and free for children 4 and under. Family Packs for two adults and up to three children are available for $35.
Find Indianapolis Family Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel at Keystone Crossing