Good morrow, traveler! Perchance thou art considering a trip to yon Renaissance festival? Well, prithee read on!
Later this spring we'll be taking the family down to visit the Georgia Renaissance Festival in Fairburn, GA. This will be the second Renaissance fair that we've attended, the first being one just outside of Nashville, TN nearly 10 years ago! I know this upcoming experience will likely be much the same yet also a bit different as this time we'll have two kiddos in tow, so I've been doing some new research and wanted to put together a helpful guide for first time fair-goers, especially those traveling with the wee folk.
What is a Renaissance Fair?
It's hard to describe a RenFaire with one succinct definition. A fair is comprised of a mishmash of many different things. It's a craft fair, it's a time warp, it's a showcase of the performing arts, it's geek and "olde world" culture, it's a costume party, and it's just an all-around fun time. Many fairs are garish and over-the-top, and that's part of what makes them so intriguing. You'll see festival workers milling about in Elizabethan garb speaking the language of the time and interacting with the guests. You'll see the town drunk giggling, hiccuping, and stumbling about as he waves his giant tankard of ale above his head. The musical sounds of lutes and ocarinas will float through the air as the aroma of classic fair food such as turkey legs and cheesy fried potatoes invades your nose.
Typically held on weekends during the spring and summer months, Ren Faires offer you a chance to step back into the Middle Ages and have a blinking good time!
Do you have to wear a costume to a Renaissance fair?
Though many fair goers will attend in full costume and consider dressing up part of the fun, don't feel pressure to do so. You won't be treated any differently by wearing contemporary clothing. Some people really get into the costume thing and you'll probably see some elaborate get-ups, which is part of the fun of attending a fair. While full-on costumes range from cheap-O to fairly expensive, you can easily throw together an appropriate outfit using pieces that you likely already have in your closet. Oversized or billowy linen or cotton shirts in natural colors, simple flat brown/tan/black leather shoes or boots. If you or your children have long hair, braiding it with ribbons is a great way to get into the spirit.
Or if you really want to dress up but are just looking for something affordable (but maybe not exactly top quality), Amazon has some great options that'll have you looking the part in no time.
Things to keep in mind:
Restrooms: Most Renaissance fairs do not have indoor facilities, so you'll be stuck with using port-a-potties for the day. Keep this in mind if you are going to wear a costume, as trying to navigate the tiny - and let's face it, disgusting - space in big billowy skirts and dresses could be tricky and result in more... contamination... than you may want.
Parking: Leaving your car in a big ole grassy (and sometimes muddy) field is the usual name-of-the-game when it comes to RenFaires. Expect the parking area to be a little messy if there's been rain in the forecast, and take note of landmarks around your car so you can more easily find it at the end of the day. Better yet, take a photo of your car and the surrounding areas to help you recognize things.
Weather: Come prepared for all types of weather. Pack a plastic stroller cover and ponchos for all members of your family in case of an unexpected rainstorm. Since most fairs are held during the warmer months, make sure to stay hydrated and bring sunglasses, hats, and plenty of sunscreen.
Cash: While most vendors will likely be able to accept credit/debit cards, on-site ATMs (if there are any) will come with a hefty fee, so go ahead and pack plenty of cash in small bills and keep it in a secured place on your body.
Shows: Seeing some of the shows and demonstrations is part of the fun of visiting a fair, so grab a show schedule as soon as you arrive (or better yet, see if a show schedule is available online) and plan your day around the shows you want to see.
Adult Content: Renaissance fairs usually have at least one non child-friendly show... usually the stand-up comedy shows, which can be full of raunchy humor. While these shows are hilarious, they may not be suitable for little ears, so watch out for posted content warnings on the shows you plan to attend.
Strollers & Wagons: If you're going to bring a stroller, make sure it has sturdy wheels and can handle bumpy sidewalks and dirt or gravel walkways. Smaller umbrella strollers may be more trouble than they are worth as they will often get stuck in loose gravel or tall grass, while larger strollers or wagons might be a lifesaver for having a place for the kids to rest, nap, or have shelter from the sun.
Baby Food & Snacks: Many fairs prohibit bringing in outside food but will make exceptions for food, drinks, and snacks for babies and toddlers. Call in advance to clarify what is allowed and pack a backpack of plenty of snack baggies for the little ones (this can help you save money on constantly buying fair food for constantly hungry kiddos all day, too!)
Weapons: Real weapons are usually prohibited for obvious reasons, but some fairs also have restrictions on fake weapons that are used as props as part of a costume. Please check the rules regarding the fair you plan on attending to avoid any problems when you arrive.
As I mentioned earlier, we will be attending the Georgia Renaissance Festival in Fairburn, GA next month and couldn't be more excited! If you're interested in attending this particular fair, it runs every weekend and Memorial Day from April 15th to June 4th, 2017.
The Georgia Renaissance Festival takes place in a 32-acre recreation of a 16th Century English Village where you'll find hundreds of costumed characters, the Queen and her Court, circus-style entertainment on 10 stages, shopping in over 130 artisan shoppes, plenty of food , games and rides for kids of all ages, and Jousting Knights on horseback.
Save Some Money: Get 25% off General Admission Adult (Age 13+) and 30% off General Admission Child (6-12) tickets by using promo code "castle" when purchasing discount tickets at www.garenfest.com. Tickets are good any day of the 2017 Season (Weekends and Memorial Day Apr 15-June 4). The discount is available online only and can't be combined with other offers. Tickets and discount are not accepted on Student Day, May 9th. Offer expires: June 4th, 2017
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