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The New York Renaissance Faire: Where Fantasy Rules

The New York Renaissance Faire: Where Fantasy Rules

Immerse yourself in a 16th-century Elizabethan village for a day.


The New York Renaissance Faire is back in the Orange County town of Tuxedo, and runs Aug. 21-Oct. 3. The 65-acre Elizabethan village celebrates life in the 16th century with jousting, theater, acrobatics, magicians, music, shows, games, food, and more.

My then 4-year-old daughter Brooklyn, her dad, and I made the scenic 45-minute drive from upper Manhattan to see what the Renaissance Faire is all about. And we experienced a show you may find yourself looking forward to each and every year. 

Once we arrived, it completely blew my mind. The faire is set up as a 65-acre Elizabethan village. It feels like being on a movie set. This celebration of the 16th century is filled with hundreds of costumed performers, jousting tournaments, music, festive foods, magicians, manually powered rides, and more than 100 shops selling mostly handmade wares. To add to the fun, most of the attendees dress up, too. The venue even offers rental costumes if you feel inspired to rent one for the day.

Knights & Fairies at the Renaissance Faire

We began our day around 3pm, and our first stop was at the Queen's Glade, where Brooklyn participated in the Children's Knighting Ceremony. Here we were able to spend some time with “her majesty” and her court. It was a cute ceremony led by costumed knights who taught the kids about knighthood and their job to protect the realm. Brooklyn received a certificate of knighthood for her extraordinary courage, honor, and truthfulness, and was renamed Lady Brooklyn.

Our next stop was The Enchanted Forest, where Brooklyn settled in and fell in love with the fairies. Fairies don't talk, but Brooklyn quickly found a way to communicate with them: They made gestures back and forth and mimicked each other’s facial expressions. Some fairies even gave away treasures such as buttons and pixie dust.

Several times throughout the day, this area is also turned into Kids’ Quest, where kids can participate in a 30-minute adventure in which they work together to help the fairies save their enchanted homes.

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Rides & Food at the New York Renaissance Faire

Rides at the Renaissance Faire

Next, we tried the amusement rides. There are about a half dozen manually powered rides spread throughout the grounds. We rode the Dragon Swing, Bedlam Barrel, Crow’s Nest, and carousel. These are all unique, hand crafted, and pushed or spun by hard-working Faire employees, all dressed in character. As much fun as these were, I think the highlight was the games, including axe throwing, a maze, ring toss, darts, strength tests, and dragon slaying. Brooklyn and her dad played four rounds of archery, both eventually hitting the bullseye!

We refueled at with delicious food. The faire offers a smorgasbord of treats, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. We ended up with sausage on a stick, pizza, and dragon chips. All were deliciously greasy and perfect fair food. While eating we watched dancers and performers while many attendees joined in on the fun. It was a great break in our day and gave us a moment to take in the spirit of the festival and see how much fun everyone was having.

RELATED | Find more cultural fairs and festivals in your area!

Shows at the New York Renaissance Faire

Jousting at the NY Renaissance Faire

Our next stop was Teatro Del Sol, where we caught an act by the famous Gypsy Geoff. He's known for juggling, fire manipulation, and other circus acts. We'll never forget this show because he ended up inviting Brooklyn onstage to do some tricks with him. She held sticks while a plate spun on one and a metal bin on the other. Geoff then began playing them like the drums. To top it off, he poured a pitcher of water in the spinning metal bin, giving her a little shower. We all laughed about it, and since it was 90 degrees out, she was happy for the refreshing spray.



Our last planned stop for the day was the Royal Joust at the Roselawn Tournament Field. This event is free and offers a lot of great seating, including a VIP option. Jousting is intense, so I had to reassure Brooklyn that the competitors were unharmed. We all did enjoy it, though, and even got to meet the riders and horses afterward.

As the jousting tournament ended, the faire started closing down for the day. Brooklyn asked if she could be the leader to show us the way out, when a performer by the name of Daniel Liberti stepped by her side and said, “I’ll lead!” He asked her name and if she likes to make wishes. He put a pebble in her hand, told her to squeeze her hands and eyes as tight as she could, and make a wish. She announced her wish for a unicorn. He then took his staff and touched her hands with it, then told her to open her eyes and hands—well, there was no unicorn, but there was a crystal marble. It was such a fun, spontaneous experience, so much in line with the vibe of a Renaissance Faire.

We made our way toward the exit around 7pm and noticed all the performers gathering along the hills and paths on our route. A band started playing live Renaissance-style music, and everyone started dancing. Performers and attendees all danced together and celebrated a wonderful day of fantasy. My daughter found her favorite fairy up on the hill and they danced together until it was time to call it a day.

It's official: I am now a Renaissance Faire fan. And I will likely visit this one every year now.

Tips for Visiting the New York Renaissance Faire

  • The Renaissance Faire hosts themed weekends and special events all season, including Pirate Weekend, Time Travelers’ Weekend, and Celtic Weekend. Plus, various entertainers stroll the grounds all season, so you’re never without something fun to see!
  • There is free parking about ¼ mile from the faire, and free shuttle buses take visitors back and forth.
  • There is $10 parking closer to the faire, but the lot gets full quickly.
  • The grounds are very stroller and wheelchair friendly.
  • Diaper changing stations are in both men’s and women’s bathrooms.
  • Wagons are available to rent if you don't bring a stroller but realize you should have.
  • Pets are not allowed, though service animals are welcome.
  • You can get a stamp if you leave the park and intend to return later the same day.
  • 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. However, overall, this is a very kid friendly venue.
  • Nearly all activities, with few exceptions (such as the shows and performances), require additional fees, so be prepared to spend more than just the entrance fee. And the activities (as well as food stands) don’t accept credit cards. There are ATMs around the faire, but bringing cash is helpful.
  • There is direct bus transportation provided by Shortline from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan to the faire. It offers either a round-trip bus-only ticket to the faire or a day-trip package that includes round-trip bus ticket, plus faire admission and a program. Contact Shortline for more details: shortlinebus.com or 800-631-8405.   

Visiting the New York Renaissance Faire

Where is the New York Renaissance Faire located?

The New York Renaissance Faire address is Sterling Forest, 600 Route 17A, Tuxedo, Orange County.

When is the New York Renaissance Faire?

The Renaissance Fair runs Aug. 21-Oct. 3, Saturday-Sunday and Labor Day, from 10am-7pm.

How much are the Renaissance Faire's tickets?

$29.95; $25.95 seniors (62 and older) and military personnel with identification; $13 children ages 5-12; free for ages 4 and younger. Check the website for discounts and promotions.


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Estée Pouleris

Author:

 Estée Pouleris is the creator behind blog familyroadtraveled.com. She lives in NYC with her boyfriend and their daughter. 

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