Escape from the bland humdrum of the everyday and into a vibrant realm straight out of the history books with a weekend getaway at the New York Renaissance Faire. Located at Sterling Forest in Tuxedo Park, this charming festival — similar to hundreds of others fan-based historic events around the United States — brings to life a dedicated community of armored knights, wandering minstrels, and a bustling artisan marketplace for a unique entertainment, dining, and shopping experience. Taking place every year for most of August and September, the Faire operates on Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day with plenty of fun in store for the whole family.
Jousting, juggling, jesters and more!
One of the unique features of the New York Renaissance Faire is the fact that the entire fairgrounds is a living community acting out the romantic fantasies of 16th-century tales of knights, chivalry, and daring-do. Renaissance Faire cast and crew are wonderfully “in character,” so to speak, and you will hear many a “Good day” and a rowdy “Huzzah!” throughout your stay.
Keeping with the tradition of “Renaissance” entertainment is an expansive schedule of events, including the “wandering” procession of Queen Elizabeth’s court and even Robin Hood’s rugged band of Merrymen. This colorful cast of characters performs at many of the Faire’s open stages with set shows ranging from an archery competition, a “living” chess tournament, to jousting matches fit for a queen, and even a Maypole / Peasant dance that calls for audience participation.
Hints for newbies to the Renaissance Faire:
- If you’re a little lost on what to see next, follow the Queen or Robin and his band of rogues from the Greenwood to the next scheduled event.
- Stick around after jousting tournaments to pet the horses and get up close and personal with the knights.
- Bring a stroller for little ones, there are plenty of paved paths and the excitement can be exhausting.
There are also several extra shows scheduled at the Faire’s numerous stages set-up throughout the faire-grounds. Enjoy the acts of physical daring and gravity-defying danger — and a hefty dose of self-deprecating humor — with The Dextre Trippe Thrill Show. Or explore the wonder and thrill of the ancient art of falconry, while also benefiting a wild-bird rescue organization, by visiting the Faire’s Birds of Prey show with continuous falconry demonstrations. Be on the lookout for wandering minstrels and comedy troupes roaming the grounds, eager to earn a smile and a laugh, so guests should feel free to wander about the festival at their leisure and stumble upon these entertainment gems as they please.
Especially for the younger crowd are groups of story-tellers located throughout the grounds who will delight in telling your children tales of chivalry and valor–and get them to participate, too. For a detailed list of events, please visit the New York Renaissance Faire’s Entertainment Guide here to help plan your trip.
The Artisan Marketplace
No 16th-century community is complete without a thriving Marketplace, and the New York Renaissance Faire hosts over 125 talented artisans who proudly display and sell their unique handcrafted wares. With all sorts of wares—from glass-blown utensils, to hand-made leather-bound journals, blacksmithery, hand-made wax candles, and hand-thrown pottery—the village marketplace is a sprawling entity that is sure to appeal to everyone. Some stalls even sport demonstrations for the curious to see these ancient skills in action and hold demonstrations throughout the day!
Children will especially delight in the variety of crafts the marketplace has to offer. Unique hand-made toys abound from swords and shields, wooden puppets and bird-whistles, to wooden catapults, and even pet dragons. There is also plenty of face-painting, henna-tattoo, and hair-braiding stalls to keep the little ones occupied. For a special splurge, invest in a flower-crown — this year’s hottest accessory, it seems — to add festive flair to your little one’s Renaissance Faire experience.
Also, if you forgot your costume and want to be part of the spirit of the Faire, never fear: There are plenty of costume rental options for families who really want to swing into the spirit of the event. A complete listing of the Artisan Marketplace and a listing of costume rentals can be found at the Faire’s artisan guide.
Fantastic Feasts (And where to find them)
Faire-goers do not have to search too far to find something good to eat. Scattered throughout the Faire are plenty of food-stands that offer savory treats and delicious sweets to satisfy any craving, especially after exploring the Faire’s sprawling grounds. Enjoy everything and anything from brownies and funnel cake, to “steak on a stake”, pizza, and more.
While there’s plenty of fine food-stalls positioned in every nook and cranny around the Faire, Greenfield Commons in the center of the Faire has a neat line of food choices to choose from and makes for a good meet-up point for families. Visit the Boar’s Den at Greenfield Commons for a great deal on a barbeque platter, or try their Portobello mushroom sandwich. Nearby Sir George’s Garden also serves the popular “Dragon Wing chips”, which is a generous portion of butterfly fries that is easy to split between a hungry family.
New York Renaissance Faire Games and Rides
For a nominal fee, averaging to about $3-$5 extra dollars, guests can also purchase access to special games of skill and thrilling human-powered rides. Games include a wide range of popular carnival entertainment, with a 16th century twist, as well as the unique Test O’Strength, a maze, and even knife, axe, and star throwing competitions. Guests — especially the wee ones — can enjoy a variety of rides such as the Dragon Swing, Carousel, and a small lake with paddleboats.
I especially recommend checking out the Faire’s Archery Range, appropriate for all ages to test their mettle at the art of archery; there’s plenty of helpful staff to assist in notching arrows and learning how to aim, too.
Renaissance Faire Trip Planning Tips: Getting There & Tickets
You won’t need a horse and saddle to reach the Faire; a car will be sufficient enough to reach the fairgrounds, with detailed directions to Sterling Forest, Tuxedo Park, New York easily accessible online.
However, if you are traveling from New York City, visitors have the option of taking a Short Line/Coach USA round-trip bus from Port Authority, New York to the Faire’s front gate. There is an option of a roundtrip bus ticket with or without Faire entry fee, which is convenient for Faire-goers who procrastinated on buying tickets. The Short Line bus service with Renaissance Faire admission package is a good deal and has kids’ rates too; to order tickets, please visit Short Line Bus’ official website here.
Faire Tickets can be bought separately; children 4 and younger are free! Buy tickets online in advance for a discount and for even bigger savings, guests can purchase tickets at select Walgreens for $18/adult and $8/child! For more information on ticket prices, special coupons, and for a listing of participating Walgreens location please visit the Renaissance Faire’s ticket information page.
A Medieval Weekend Getaway: Renaissance Faire
While a visit to the New York Renaissance Faire makes a lovely day trip, families who wish to stay overnight have several local hotel options just minutes away from the Faire grounds. A complete listing of nearby hotels can be found through the Faire’s official hotel guide; it is recommended to book early to ensure a room. For more information, be sure to visit the New York Renaissance Faire’s official website, or contact the Faire reservations staff at 845/351-5171.
Additionally, Renaissance Faire fans have boundless energy, and there are wonderful Medieval themed Renaissance style fairs — as well as Medieval and pirate-themed ones — around the United States every month of the year. Here’s a good directory with links to the major American fairs.
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