Take the Kids Back in Time at the New York Renaissance Faire
The New York Renaissance Faire descends on Sterling Forest again this fall, running on weekends and holidays from late August through early October. This annual festival transforms the state park in Tuxedo into a 16th-century village complete with period costumes, music, theater, and crafts.
The massive 65-acre "Renn Faire," as locals call it, has been taking place since 1977, and it kicks off again Saturday, August 27, 2022. This year is the festival's 45th anniversary. Read on for details on what to see there with the kids, ticket discounts, and more.
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Kids get a kick out of the period costumes and weapons!
Located in Orange County, the New York Renaissance Faire makes for a quick day trip—just over an hour from Midtown Manhattan and even closer for Westchester and Northern New Jersey families. There's also a bus that runs daily from Port Authority to the Faire.
The minute you step through the gates, you'll feel like you've entered another world. From the jousting, roaming royals, and strolling performers, to the rides, archery, and face painting, there is plenty for families to do. Expect to see parades as the "residents" of the cute Tudor-style village walk by, as well as games and crafts, live music, dance, comedy, and acrobatic performances—all set beneath the trees of Sterling Forest.
All of the live entertainment shows are included with the ticket price.
There are also dozens of live performances throughout the grounds, with many occurring at the same time. Visiting artisans, meanwhile, sell an eclectic mix of wares, including puppets, jewelry, and old-fashioned clothing. Planning saves you some time—don't expect to do it all in one day. At times, the Renn Faire can feel more like a theme park than an authentic re-enactment, but that's probably for the best; I think we all prefer 21st-century plumbing and hygiene.
In addition to trying their hands at archery, star-throwing, and testing their strength, kids can have their faces painted and ride on the man-powered Dragon Boat ride. The food is about average for an outdoor event—think soggy chicken nuggets and fries—and overpriced, save for the massive turkey legs and adults-only mead. Unfortunately, outside food isn't permitted. You can see a full menu here.
The jousting is truly a highlight of the faire.
Jousting is a frequent family favorite. There are matches throughout the day, and you can net VIP-covered seating complete with a non-alcoholic beverage and pickle for $20 per person per session.
Attendees at the 2022 New York Renaissance Faire can expect to see four new performers in addition to countless old favorites. The most kid-friendly new shows include The Pinwheel Sideshow on opening weekend, with Pippsy the clown presenting a variety show, while Mythic Madness is a martial arts-themed show with a heavy focus on swords and sorcery.
Know Before You Go to the New York Renaissance Faire
Location: The New York Renaissance Faire takes place in Sterling Forest. The entrance is located at 600 Route 17A in Tuxedo Park, N.Y. No car? Short Line's once-a-day bus delivers you to the gates. The New York Renaissance Faire takes place on weekends, plus Labor Day. It's open rain or shine.
Pricing: At the door, entry is $35 for adults, $18 for children ages 5 to 12, and FREE for ages 4 and younger. Consider buying your tickets in advance online. All entertainment and many activities are included in the ticket price, but wares, rides, and food cost extra.
Dress in your favorite period attire.
Come in costume: Dressing in period attire is part of the fun, so fish those princess and pirate outfits out of the closet. Don't have anything appropriate? You can rent or buy costumes there.
Wear comfortable shoes and sunblock: You're going to be doing a lot of walking around outside.
Check the map and schedule in advance: The map gives you the lay of the land, and the stage schedule is posted the Wednesday before each weekend. It's easy to lose track of time browsing the seemingly endless sea of vendors.
Not all face painters are created equal: Watch them work before you decide who to go with and what design you want. Different artists worked on my two kids at the same time, and one ended up having to fix the other's not-so-fine work.
Check out the face painting before you commit to an artist.
Bathrooms: The flush toilets are located by the Kissing Bridge; there are also many portable toilets.
Bring cash: Some vendors do accept credit cards but others only take cash.
Not all performances are kid-friendly: Many acts, like Ded Bob, are peppered with sexual innuendo and other naughtiness better suited for older crowds. Some jokes go over the heads of younger kids, but my 10-year-old blushed a few times before we opted for an early exit. The jousts, the glassblowing demos, and the Children's Knighting Ceremony are suitable for all ages.
Arrive early: By afternoon the crowds get a little more, ahem, mature, and the mead really starts flowing.
Looking for more Medieval fun? Try the annual Medieval Festival in Fort Tryon Park in the fall. This festival, which only takes place one day a year, is smaller and even more crowded than the Renn Faire; however, there's jousting and other entertainment, many of the same vendors, and entry is FREE.
Originally published in 2014.
Photos courtesy of the New York Renaissance Faire