I have to admit I’m not one who normally gets excited when the annual Ren faire rolls through town. However, I try to introduce my daughter, Brooklyn, to many new experiences so this year at almost 5 years old it seemed appropriate. Brooklyn, her dad and I made the scenic 45 minute drive from upper NYC to Tuxedo, NY to check out the 39th annual New York Renaissance Faire. (Public transportation is also available see under tips.)
Once we found a parking spot among the hundreds of others cars and took a bus 1/4 mile to the entrance, it completely blew my mind. This faire is a 65 acre fully built out Elizabethan Village. It feels just like being on a working movie set. This 16th Century celebration of yesteryear is buzzing with energy from the music, hundreds of costumed performers, festive foods, jousting tournaments, magicians, over 100 shops selling mostly handmade wares and man powered rides. To top it off, most of the attendees dress up too. If you get moved to do so while there, they even offer rental costumes for the day.
Our first stop, around 3:00, was at the Queen’s Glade, where Brooklyn participated in a Children’s Knighting Ceremony. Here we were able to spend some time with her majesty and her court. A couple knights led a cute ceremony teaching the kids about knighthood and their job to protect. Brooklyn was unusually shy and seemed perplexed as to why everyone was dressed funny, even though we discussed it prior to arriving. She received a certificate of Knighthood for her extraordinary courage, honor and truthfulness and was named Lady Brooklyn. I really hope she doesn’t expect us to start calling her this around the house.
The Enchanted Forest was our next stop where Brooklyn settled in and fell in love with the fairies. Since Fairies don’t talk Brooklyn quickly found a way to communicate with them, mimicking facial expressions and making gestures to each other. Some fairies even gave away treasures like buttons and pixie dust which I suspect she will cherish for a very long time. The Enchanted Forest also turns into Kidsquest several times a day. During a 30 minute interactive adventure kids work together to help the fairies save their enchanted homes while parents stay nearby.
It’s impossible to bring a child anywhere without trying the rides, so we rode several man powered, hand crafted unique rides, all operated my costumed workers. As much fun as these were, I think the highlight was the games. They offered everything from juggling to knife throwing. Our sweet spot was archery. Brooklyn and her dad played several rounds, both eventually hitting the bullseye! I was seriously impressed.
Next, we went to Willow’s Fair food pavilion, which is brand new. We refueled with sausage on a stick, pizza and dragon chips, all available from a row of charming restaurant stalls. They pretty much offer a smorgasbord of foods including vegetarian and gluten free options, all mostly greasy fair food and delicious. While eating we watched performers dance and make music while many attendees joined in on the fun. This was a really nice break in our day and gave us a chance to take in the spirit of the festival. Part of the fun is just being there and seeing how much fun everyone else is having.
Our next stop was unforgettable. We went to Teatro Del Sol to see an act by the Gypsy Geoff, a juggler, fire manipulator and man of many trades. Brooklyn ended up getting on stage to do some tricks with him. He had her hold sticks in each hand while she spun a plate and a metal bin, then he played them like drums. I was in awe of how Brooklyn handled herself, she looked a little nervous but was also enthralled by the excitement and I think proud of herself for pulling it off. As a finale he surprised her by pouring a pitcher of water in the spinning metal bin, a shower she welcomed from the 90 degree heat and even took a bow at the end.
The Royal Joust at the new Roselawn Jousting Tournament field started at 6:00 so we made our way over to this free event. This new arena is really nice and offers a lot of great seating with perfect views including a new VIP section. Jousting is aggressive and violent so I had to reassure Brooklyn the competitors were okay throughout the show. After convincing her much was for show we all ended up enjoying it. Afterwards we got to meet the riders and horses.
Around 7:00 the the Faire started closing down for the day. Brooklyn, being her 4 year old self asked if she lead the way out. Just then a performer joined stride with us and said, “I’ll lead!” He kindly asked Brooklyn her name and if she likes to make wishes. Then he placed a pebble in her hand and asked her to squeeze her hands as tight as she could and make a wish. She of course wished for a unicorn. Then he took his staff, touched her hands with it and told her to open her hands…well thanks god there was no unicorn, but a crystal marble! It was such an awesome spontaneous experience, a perfect representation of the vibe of a Renaissance Faire.
We slowly made our way towards the exit and noticed all the performers were doing the same. They started gathering along the hills and paths all along our route. A band started playing live renaissance style music and it seemed like no one was ready to leave. Then, as if planned, performers and attendees all started dancing together, celebrating a wonderful day of fantasy. My daughter was thrilled to find her favorite fairy up on the hill and they danced until it was time to call it a day.
I’m so glad I have a kid. I never would have attended this festival is if weren’t for my little girl. I’m now officially a Renaissance Faire fan.
Here’s a short video of our day:
- There is free parking about 1/4 mile from the faire and free shuttle busses.
- There is $10 parking closer to the faire but the lot gets full quickly.
- You can get a stamp if you leave the park and intend to return the same day only.
- Outside food is not allowed, but you can return to your car for a picnic if you would prefer your own food.
- Many shows are not appropriate for kids. All of these are indicated on the schedule or online.
- The grounds are very stroller friendly.
- Wagons are available to rent if you don’t bring a stroller but realize you should have.
- Pets are not allowed.
- This is a very kid friendly faire.
- Adults $25; Seniors (62+) $20; Military with ID $20; Ages 5-12 $12; Ages 4 and under are free. Check website for discounts and promotions.
There is direct bus transportation provided by Shortline from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan to the Faire. They offer either a round-trip bus-only ticket to the Faire OR a Day Trip Package which includes round-trip bus ticket plus Faire admission and a Faire Program. Please contact Shortline for further details: 1-800-631-8405 or shortlinebus.com.