Tips for Enjoying the Ren Fest Near You

Article Published 1/7/23

I love the renaissance festival. Here in MN we have a decent sized fair with a variety of shows, vendors and everything in between. Both Bork and I spent 9 years working in vendor booths prior to 2020 and in 2022 we were able to return to fest as “playtrons.”

As with most job sites/events, working behind the scenes gives one a different perspective and lots of knowledge that isn’t always apparent to the average event goer. This opinion piece was written as a way to give one who may not have gone to the Renaissance Festival some advice on how to best enjoy their Ren Fest experiences.

  • No lunch legs. The turkey legs are an easy go-to meal that makes you feel like your living your best Renaissance life but trust me on this one, avoid the long lunch lines. We have seen our fair share of food poisoning from turkey legs that haven’t been cooked long enough. Right after opening (cannon for MN) or during the “off” times for food (2-3 pm) when the lines aren’t long for food are the safer time frames to get your traditional turkey leg.

  • Support the independent food vendors when you can. Specifically for the MN fest the crepes, the gluten free food booth, and the Royal Asian Cuisine (the wonton booth). Usually comparable prices for better and more food. Depending on where you go, some fairs list these in the program to make it easier to find.

  • Cash is king. The credit card readers sometimes don’t work as the whole fest is fighting over the same cell towers for Wi-Fi. Also some places (such as the food booths) are cash only. ATM lines will be long and depending on the time of the weekend, may be empty.

  • Arrive early. This lets you get better parking and allows you to get in lines for the more popular attractions before the mass majority of people get there. (For Mn it means you're within walking distance of the gates instead of needing to take the parking lot bus and you can be the first dozen in line for the Mermaid Cove instead of the 50th +). Earlier is also usually cooler weather and you can get more individualized interactions with the cast when it's quiet.

  • Boots before corset always. Once the corset is on it will become difficult to bend. But also putting boots/corset on at the site if you’re not used to driving in them. Drive in footwear you are familiar with, especially if your leather boots take too much feeling/ bending away.

  • CLOSED TOED SHOES. Always avoid heels. NEVER wear flip flops, you're asking get hurt as there are wood chips and turkey bone shards waiting to stab you.

  • Be weather aware. Wear skirt hikes for muddy days. Always avoid. Match your garb to the weather (leathers/wool for cold days only, always avoid things that are going to actively stick to you on really hot days).

  • HYDRATE and eat- You can always keep stuff in your car like a nice big cooler of water in case you don’t want to spend a ton of money inside fest on water. It’s also great to pack a picnic lunch to have at vehicles as well. I’m not saying don’t spend any money at fest food/drink because that’s part of the experience but have good snacks and stuff in vehicles so you can hydrate and get energy back properly when you do drop off of goods that you purchased to the car. Also if someone in your party is REALLY dehydrated you can always ask a pickle man for a scoop of pickle juice for a perk up. Tipping the pickle men for this kindness is advised.

  • Tickets in advance can be cheaper. There are days that are free/cheaper for specific job groups in case someone in your party qualifies. For Minnesota Fest there are usually coupons off at Holiday or Cub.

  • Enjoy fest. Grab a program from info booth for map and schedule (things literally change every week for some performance groups so updated programs are important). Enjoy the “free” stuff. There are things like Fairy wing forest, mermaid cove, Irish cottage cooking demos, the joust, reptile house at Como cottage, the Maypole dancing is new this year and there are a load of other performances at MN. Don’t feel like you have to do paid things to get the whole experience (such as the Bad Manor Feast).

  • SUNSCREEN- you will need it. The MNFest doesn’t have a ton of shade in areas. No matter which fair you go to, if you plan on making a whole day of the Fest please wear sunscreen for your own health and comfortability. Parasols help- not many places at fest sell them so pre buy parasols or be prepared to do sunscreen. Got fest makeup? Use the aerosol can stuff. Some sunscreen is better than no sunscreen.

  • Dress up if you want! Whether you are wearing your best nerd t-shirt and a musketeers hat to wearing head to toe garb dress in a way that makes you comfortable and happy. It isn’t required but dressing up definitely helps get you into the mood and head space of the Ren Fest. When I worked, being able to comment on how cool your stuff looked or being able to start a conversation based on the geek reference on a t-shirt was one of my favorite things.

Safe space reminder: If you ever feel uncomfortable, you can say no/leave. Speak up for yourself. Costume is not consent. Many shop people will try to sell you things, as it is their job. Costume shops may put you into pieces, other shops may say hold this, try this. Etc. and be pushy. But remember it is their job to sell, not harass. Whether it is another patron or a worker, no should always mean no. If a street act is trying to engage you and you don’t want to participate, be blunt.

Accessibility: Do some research before you go to your local Renaissance Festival. Our Ren Fest has handicap parking but the roads are unpaved making it an exhausting to almost impossible time for wheelchairs and walkers. Some fairs also have electric scooters to rent. Mn has one weekend that is dedicated for the hearing impaired has ASL interpreters for large stage shows. As much as I would love to say Fest is for everyone, not every renaissance festival is going to have the same level of inclusion and accessibility.

Photos in this article were taken by Wolfsfox or a friend using her cellphone.