My husband and I have been making annual visits to the Maryland Renaissance Festival together for over 15 years now. However, this is only our second year bringing the kids along, and exploring the festival with children is an entirely different experience. We are starting to learn the fair from a totally different perspective. It’s definitely essential to go prepared for the day. For this reason, I’m writing this guide to help relieve stress and help navigate families through the festival to make the most of their time and money. The Maryland Renaissance Festival is an event that I look forward to all year long and hope that after reading this article, you will be convinced to give it try.
MARYLAND RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL INFORMATION
The festivities began in late August and will run every Saturday & Sunday 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM through October 22, 2017 in Crownsville, Maryland. Admission starts at $25 for adults, $21 for seniors, $10 for children ages 7-15, free for young ones ages 6 and under. Season passes and multi-day passes are available as well. For detailed information and to purchase tickets visit : Ticket Link
2017 special events include:
* August 26-27: Children’s Weekend – FREE admission for ages 15 and under with adult
* September 4: Senior’s Day – FREE admission for ages 62+
* September 9: ASL Interpretation Day
* September 16-17: Celtic Celebration
* September 23-24 – Shakespeare Weekend
* September 30 – October 1: Pirate Adventure Weekend
* October 8: ASL Interpretation Day
PREPARE FOR THE BIG DAY
As you prepare for your trip back in time, consider dressing up. Nothing is better than playing the part to make the experience twice the fun. By no means is it a requirement, just personal preference. If you decide to go dressed up, you don’t have to have a period accurate costume. It’s important to remember to dress for the weather and be comfortable. If you do decide to dress up you can either come dressed or rent an outfit. Here’s a tutorial for a knights tunic that is really easy and super cheap to make: DIY No Sew knights Costume Link. There is a great deal of walking at the fair so the biggest piece of advice for what to wear is comfortable shoes. Depending on the weather the ground is either muddy or dry and dusty, so wear closed toed shoes not sandals.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU GET THERE
If you have never been before, I’m sure you are wondering what to expect. Visiting the Renaissance Festival is like taking a step back in history. Enter the gates of Revel Grove and your passport to merriment begins. You will find plenty to keep you entered!!!
There are over 200 performers on 10 stages and theaters with shows that range from comedy acts to acrobatics and musicians to fortune tellers and Shakespearean plays to sword fighting. The entertaining goes beyond the stage, you are sure to find dancers, jugglers, stilt walkers and actors in character spread out around the village. One of my boys favorite forms of entertainment were the jousting tournaments. Plan out what shows you would like to see in advanced by using the Entertainment Schedule.
Another fun thing to do is walk around the shops with over 140 artisans in the quaint shops through out the village where you will find clothing, jewelry, weapons, artwork, spices and much more. Many of the vendors will offer live demonstrations on the process of making period items.
You wont want to miss out on trying out the food. Most of the foods are a lot of fun and don’t require utensils to eat them. Some of the popular items are meat pies, turkey legs, steak on a stake and pretty much anything and everything on a stick. There are lots of options, even healthy ones! In fact you can find fresh fruit for sale. We got three bananas for $2.
ENTERTAINING THE WEE ONES
You will want to make your way to the rear left corner of the village between the Royal Fox Theatre and Mary Dale Way. This is where you will find a lot of fun things for the kids to do. The first thing your wee ones are sure to get excited about is the “Giant Slide.” The giant slide is a huge wood carved slide that stretches from the top to the bottom of a large hill. There were height restrictions which I wouldn’t quote me on. My son who is 36 inches needed be accompanied by an adult. However my oldest son who’s 42 inches was able to go by himself. An attendant will lay out a felt mat to sit on and will assist in pushing riders down the slide. It costs $1 per person to ride.
There is an awesome playground called Wee Ones Play Area. Here you will find a large pirate ship playground complete with climbing ropes, slide and swings. Also in this area you will find the Juggling School and Climbing Wall. Next, make your way down Mary’s Dale Way and near the Black Friars Theatre and you will find pony rides, archery buttes and reptile exhibit. Don’t forget to step inside St. George’s chapel where you’ll find a display of royal crowns and swords.
I think my wee ones favorite part of the day was spending time at Kings Field cheering on their house knight at the jousting arena. They were also stoked about picking out a sword at Adventure Armoury.
- Bring cash & Set a budget: Most of the vendors accept credit cards; however, there are some that don’t. Also with using cash its easier to have visual for staying on budget. Be sure to budget for food, games and a souvenir. Another shopping tip is to bring along a reusable shopping. It’s nice having a place to store your loot.
- To stroll or not to stroll that is the question: Having a stroller in my opinion is not idea. This is because you are off-roading it at Ren Fest. If you do have wee ones who will need a stroller, I recommend one with all-terrain wheels. Most years I preferred using a carrier over a stroller.
- Have a plan: Be sure to go online and review the map and schedule the night before or pick one up at the gate so that you can plan your day. Also, if there is a show you really want to see; it’s a good idea to show up 5-10 minutes a head of time to get a good seat.
- Timing: The best time to visit the festival is actually at the beginning of the season when tickets are cheaper and it’s less crowded. It seems like mid-September is the busiest time of season. However, I have found that Sunday’s during football season can be less crowded. Avoid the theme weekends if you want to avoid the crowds, they are notoriously more packed.
- What to pack: I suggest bringing a backpack with a few snacks for the kids to munch on, unopened water bottles are good to have with all the walking and sometimes heat you will want everyone to stay well hydrated, hand sanitizer (there are only porter potties.)
- One thing that we have learned over the years is that despite that there’s lots to see and do, try to plan on leaving an hour or two before the festival closes. This will save you from traffic jams as the mass of people leave the park at the same time.