This is an annual event in my neighborhood and we tend to join in on the fun every year – and we did this past weekend. This Medieval festival a free fair sponsored by the City of New York Parks and Recreation and the Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation. It’s located at the northern end of NYC in the gorgeous park of Fort Tryon, which is home to the Cloisters – part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a NYC landmark specializing in European medieval architecture, sculpture and decorative arts.
We arrived at 11:30 just as the festival was beginning and caught the procession of vendors and performers march in like a parade. My daughter and her friend 4 and 5 years old, both dressed in purple princess gowns were really into it at this point – this may have been one of the highlights for them.
After the mini parade the crowds of attendees spread out like ants to explore the grounds which where transformed into a medieval village. The streets and grassy areas were filled with vendors, storytellers, musicians, knights in armor, jesters and free craft stations for kids. We also had a chance to see a real blacksmith work as well as other artisans demonstrate their craft. The performers and some attendees dressed up in Medieval costumes, so you really feel transported into another era…except since it’s my neighborhood it was more like seeing my neighborhood kids in costumes, which is really not all that uncommon :).
We also had a chance to eat Medieval food – giant turkey legs and meatballs on sticks. This didn’t go over so well with my 5 year old, but I saw lots of other kids enjoying the food. We had a chance to try out hula hoops and juggling sticks and browse many craft stalls. In the early afternoon we caught a show featuring medieval combat which was surprisingly violent (see video) – but was probably the second highlight of the day for the girls, they both loved it. We didn’t stay for this, but later in the day they had a jousting event between knights on horseback. It was a fun 1/2 day experience for us. When leaving the mobs of people really started arriving so we were happy we attended early. We’ll definitely go back next year, mostly because it’s part of our neighborhood!
- This event gets over crowded each year, with approximately 40,000 visitors. Avoid it if you don’t want to deal with the crowds.
- Attend the event early, upon opening if possible for the least crowded time.
- Strollers are allowed but it will take longer to walk through with one. Baby carriers are probably easier to navigate with.
- If your kids are in dress up clothes, bring a change of clothing, both of our girls wanted regular clothes midway through our experience.
- There are port-a-potties available for restrooms.
- The beauty of this event is it’s free, so you can leave whenever you’re done hearing people speak in old english in dress up clothes!
- It’s best to take public transportation, parking is a really tricky.
- We enjoyed the Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, NY more – but it’s a bit pricey. Click here to read that review.
To see our day watch our short video:
By subway: Take the “A” train uptown to the West 190th Street stop in Manhattan. Take the elevator up to the entrance to the Festival.