My favorite parent discoveries are new adventures you can share with your children. Opportunities to play, dream and discover with our kids should never be passed up! These are the things they remember and cherish for a lifetime and these are the moments you will laugh about with them for many years to come! So, if your kids have ever dreamed of pirates, knights, princesses or fairies…then you need to pack up these dreamers and take them to the place where these dreams are real! My family and I have found a magical place where these characters come to life and it’s right here in our own backyard for two months out of the year…at the Arizona Renaissance Festival! The Arizona Renaissance Festival is a medieval amusement park, a 13-stage theater, a 30-acre circus, an arts and crafts fair, a jousting tournament and a feast — all rolled into one non-stop, day-long family adventure! The Festival runs from 10am to 6pm (rain or shine) on Saturdays and Sundays from February 6 to March 27, including President’s Day on February 15th. To find it, you’ll need to travel about seven miles east of Apache Junction on US Highway 60.
The Renaissance Festival is a place where you and your family can experience over 200 handcrafted items, have sword fights with pirates, watch knights joust to the death, dance to the reed pipes of a fairy, laugh with the village fool or even gain audience with the King and his courtisans! Take a spin on the “man-powered” merry-go-round, ride a giant rocking horse, have a go at the crossbow or just have a seat on the lawn and catch the Bird of Prey show to see how traditional falconry was done! Even the booths are hand-crafted works of art. There are hair weavers, face painters, candle makers, pottery artists, leather and metal workers…the list goes on!
My family of 5 have been attending for several years and we wouldn’t miss it! There has been something for all of my ages to experience, learn from and participate in every year we have attended. We love mixing in with the villagers dressed in our renaissance finest and talking with the various artisans about their unique skills. I have brought my princesses, my fairies, my warlocks, my pirates, my knights and even my robin hood and we fit in perfectly in this fully immersive renaissance experience. Plan to spend the entire day! You definitely won’t starve as you wonder through the park munching on turkey legs, steaks on sticks or taste a bit of heaven as you pass by any of the amazing chocolate covered treasures to be found all over the faire.
Some of the entertainment can be quite a mixed bag of joyful and inappropriate (this is, after all, the renaissance!) and I have attended without concern with my children on a variety of days (just avoiding the shows with more adult-oriented humor). However, if you would rather avoid the potentially “bawdy” nature of a few of the shows, I highly recommend attending on one of their special “themed” days called “Student Days” which runs on March 1st and 3rd. This is a very special day when the more rambunctious crowd is toned down to make way for the likes of Galileo, Medicis, Shakespeare, Magellan and so much more! These two days cater especially to teachers and students to help bring to life the language, science, arts, engineering and overall ambiance of the 16th Century.
Tickets are $23 for adults and $11 for kids (ages 5-12). Discount tickets are available here or check their website for a coupon partner near you. You can also hook up with their facebook page and join in the 16th century fun to win one of their daily giveaways!
Want to come with your teacher and all your classroom friends?? Then you need to enter their “Renaissance in the Southwest 2016 Essay Contest”! Teachers, this is a spectacular way to help your kids get excited about history!
A couple of tips when attending the faire…
- Traffic can be a problem getting there…plan to leave at least an hour or two early if you can. But once you get there, parking is free and very well organized.
- They do not allow outside food and drink but when I have come with children under the age of 5, they have allowed me to bring small snacks, bottles and drinks specifically and only for these little ones. But I would try to pack light…they won’t let you bring coolers or any large items.
- It’s dusty! If you have allergies or are otherwise affected by the dust, be prepared.
- It can be very warm! Wear sunscreen…a hat…bring a fan…you will be much more comfortable! Bring water…you can refill at drinking fountains throughout the park.
- There are bathrooms throughout the faire but the lines can be long…try to get your little ones to go before you get there.
- Leave your pets at home…they will not be allowed into the park.
- Costumes are super fun and usually will win the attention of the street performers for an even more interactive and fun experience!
- There are 8 ATM’s located across the Festival grounds but I would recommend having cash on hand. The food can be a bit pricey but well worth the experience and you won’t want to miss out on some of the one-of-a-kind souvenirs from the day!