The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is the largest renaissance festival in the nation and has been held for over 40 years. The village is modeled on the 16th century and there are many characters dressed for the times. Characters include King Henry, Lady Elizabeth and their court of lords and ladies. Knights joust daily, minstrels entertain, games and rides are also available for additional fees. The fair is large and runs rain or shine with a different theme for each weekend. There are also additional entertainments for additional fees. This fair is an annual event many families enjoy over and over again.
Entertainment at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival
The Renaissance Festival is filled with entertainment throughout the day. There are stages where performers create magic, perform hypnosis, tell tales, juggle and perform shows that involve audience participation. There are eleven featured performers who have several shows each day on a specific stage. Some shows do have ratings such as PG or even R so be sure to check if you have young children. Many of the jokes in these shows involve innuendo but they can be very subtle and children may not even be aware of the joke. The Tortuga Twins actually have audience members come up on the stage as part of their show, as does Franko the Hypnotist and other entertainers. They do not necessarily choose from the front rows so beware you may get more involved in the entertainment than you planned.
On several stages the acts change and shows are given almost back to back so guests can simply sit for an hour or so and see several fun shows. This is great after walking around the fair grounds for hours at a time. There are also wandering entertainers who will play music or juggle at apparently random spots around the fair. All shows are free, though everyone asks for a voluntary donation after the show. This donation is how the performers earn their living and many do well as they are professional and provide great entertainment.
Another form of entertainment is watching the artisans. There are three different glass blowers who have an open area around their workshop so people can watch them create their artwork. Other artisans also will often be out front of their shops making their crafts so that everyone can see how it is done. This can be quite fascinating and is well worth seeing at least one artisan do their work.
Jousting at the Fair
One of the most popular entertainments is the joust. Three times a day knights joust and fight each other in a large arena near the center of the fair. The morning show is more of a practice and is not widely attended. The afternoon shows are very popular and many spectators gather to watch and cheer on their favorite knight. Before each of these afternoon jousts the kids have a chance to participate by running an obstacle course while riding a stick pony. This is great fun for the younger kids as their name is announced before they race and they get to name their ‘horse’ After each child runs the race a winner is announced and they all parade around the arena. This year the winners also get to sit with the royal family to watch the jousting. Little girls who like princesses may particularly enjoy this part.
Games and Rides
The Renaissance Festival also hosts many games and some rides for the family. There is no electricity so these rides are all people powered. The giant rocking horse is very popular with younger kids and the climbing wall is great for all ages. Each ride has its own fee, ranging from $3 to $5 dollars per person. There are also animals to ride; an elephant, camel and llama are available all day for rides.
Food and Treats
There is a wide variety of food available at the fair. Turkey drumsticks are very popular for many guests. There are hot foods such as soup available as well as sandwiches and drinks. The food vendors are scattered throughout the fair so it is easy to graze throughout the day. There is also bottled water, beer, wine and pop available. Prices vary from $2.50 for a Cashew Turtle (chocolate covered caramel with cashews) to $5 or more for drumsticks.
Tips and Tricks
1. Bring a lot of cash – there is not much electricity on site so many food and ride vendors can’t take credit cards
2. Bring a credit card – there are many artisans selling a wide variety of items from swords to glass to stained glass windows. Many of these artisans can take credit cards
3. Dress the part – dress up as a 16th century lady, a fairy, a knight, a knave or any other variation of medieval or fantasy dress. There are costumes for sale at the fair as well and the characters who walk around will be more likely to interact with you if you are dressed the part.
4. Bring your own bottled water or drink, particularly if it is hot out. The fair doesn’t allow outside food but a bottle of water will save $3 per person.
5. Wear comfortable shoes – there is a lot of walking and the ground is not paved or otherwise prepared, it is just dirt and grass ground.
6. Avoid going immediately after a rain if possible as the ground will be muddy.
7. Go early as many guest don’t arrive until lunch time.
8. Take your time and wander. The fair is large and there is a lot to see. Plan on spending the entire day and bring a stroller for younger kids to ride in.
The Renaissance Festival is a great way to spend a day together as a family. The wide variety of entertainments and shopping provide fun for all ages.