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Best Road Trips to the 16th Century. Bristol Renaissance Waifs at the faire
 Renaissance Festivals and Ren Faires are scattered across the country making it easy to find 16th century time capsule to share with your kids. 

Attending a faire or festival is about letting go for a bit and indulging in pretend with your kids. It’s about imagining another time and another place when royalty reigned supreme, bards, jesters, and fairy folk mingled among the shire and gallant knights, beautiful princesses, and dastardly dragons were part of everyday life. I have selected five of the best places to imagine it’s the 16th century and pretend with ypour children that dragons and fairie folk can be seen and heard.Ren Faire Fairy Child
Bristol Renaissance Faire - Voted the best in the US (weekends July to September). Take your kids and travel to a time to the year 1574 when knights were noble, maids were merry and faerie folk cast spells to create magical moment. A time when bards and jesters provided entertainment and everyone paid homage to Queen Elizabeth I. The Faire is set amid a 30-acre site it features open-air stages, live entertainment, tasty food plus more than 200 artisans including Pendragon Costumes. See Suitcase Shakespeare and enjoy Tartanic, Circa Paleo and ever popular Sirena on stage. Bonus points: Within the grounds a Kids Kingdom offers plenty of games and activities including catapulting frogs, archery with Robin Hood's men, a crow's nest ride, the very popular Da Vinci's Flying Machine, elephant rides, a dueling horse slide, and a castle climbing wall. Wait for it! In addition to the ever popular RenQuest – the live, fantasy game play for fair goers,  there is a special adventure quest for ages 5-11, led by Willow Spellworthy and Astrid Treeswift with their pet trolls, Stirling and Bucket. Details: The time portal is south of Kenosha near the Illinois state line. (847)395-7773 Bristol Ren Faire.Ren Fest May Pole Dance Family Travel Files
Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire – Calling all nipperkins to play (weekends August to the end of October). Time travel to the 35-acre Shire of Mount Hope in the year of 1588 and be prepared to participate in the mirth and merriment.  Each of the 13 weekends presents different supported by bards, minstrels, mimes, knights, archers, royal ladies, faerie folk, lively maidens, creative artisans, and almost two dozen royal kitchens. Activities for young children include cake with the queen, treasure hunts, potato races, archery demonstrations, aviary encounter, a pirate swing, an amazing maze, gem mining, and meeting a beekeeper with a bee hive. Bonus Points: Investigate the unique puppets offered by Imaginarium Galleries; checkout the fanciful costumes for children at Wee Dragon; find the perfect wand at Ye Olde Wizards and Dragons. Wait for it!  October in the Shire includes spooky stuff for all ages plus Trick-or-Treating in the Shire with the nipperkins (youngest guests) invited to perform tricks to collect treats. Details: On the grounds of Mount Hope Estate 2775 Lebanon Rd., Manheim, PA. Go to Pennsylvania Renaissance FaireNew York renaissance Fair Royalty with Child by  Lars Lunde

New York Renaissance Faire – Fairies are back at Sterlingshire (weekends August through September). For more than three decades Tuxedo, NY has provided the space and a place to step back in time to Elizabethan England. The annual event, one of the country’s best, enables the imagination to travel un encumbered by airplanes and jet lag. Set under the shade of Sterling Forest, visitors are encouraged to participate in the 16th Century and enjoy the benefits of the realm of Queen Elizabeth I. Walk through the Shire of Sterling; browse through the shops; sample scrumptious treats. Enjoy the music of the Renaissance and the antics of hundreds of costumed residents. Watch a jousting tournament and look for Robin Hood and his merry men. The grounds are populated with acrobatics, jesters, jugglers, faire maidens, and magicians. Shop the crafters market where more than 100 artisans ply their wares. Kids love the dragon swing, the carousel, and the chance to dance around the Maypole. Bonus Points: See Brother Donald - the Storyteller, or watch the story of the Terrible Ogre unfold at Storybook Theatre. Details: 600 Route 17A - Sterling Forest – Tuxedo, NY 10987 in the Hudson Valley just 40 Minutes from Manhattan.  New York Ren Fair for details. New York Ren Faire Princess by Jody Oliveri
Holly Michigan Renaissance Festival – Walk with knights, maidens, and bards (mid- August to the end of September). Step back in time and walk among knights, jesters, troubadours, and members of the royal court. Hear Hob the Singing Troll and listen to the Celtic music of Stone Clover or tap your toes to the Crannog. Marvel at the rope-walking; learn the history of falconry; see interactive children's shows with handmade puppets; fantasy face painting and vintage hair braiding.  The artisans and shopkeepers span the gamut of fair offerings including Land of Merrimen - costumes for children, fairy wings from Fairy Winks, and awesome shoulder puppets from Midsummer Knight's Dream. Bonus Points: Merbella Live Mermaids will be entertaining guests at the fair. Wait for it! To make the fair experience even quirkier unique contest are held each weekend and include Scotch egg eating, and pickle pie eating.  Details: 12600 Dixie Highway, Holly, MI 48442. Toll-free 1-800-601-4848 or

Minnesota Renaissance Festival – Be entertained royaly (mid-August to the end of September). Step into village life as it may have been during the 16th with King Henry and Lady Elizabeth. More than 50 free children's activities make a day at the festival loads of fun for tykes. Fancy hair braiding, festive face painting and hand castings add to the atmosphere. Family-friendly entertainment is staged through the festival. Enjoy moments with Zilch the Tory Steller; laugh at the antics of the Wacky Chickens; watch Pizpor the Magician or see the popular Robin Hood Show. In addition to jousting, royal parades, the antics of jesters and music of bards, children are often thrilled by the petting zoo, sheep herding and pony rides. The Secret Garden and the Fairy Wing Forest add a magical dimension to the festival. Bonus Points: Look for the festival’s Princess Court where young children are invited to play princess for a day while learning graceful behavior, proper etiquette and manners. Details: Two miles after the intersection of 169 & Highway 41 near Shakopee, MN. (952) 445-7361 or Minnesota Renaissance Festival

To find a renaissance festival or Ren faire near your homebase one of the best resources I have found is

Content and comments by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images courtesy Bristol Renaissance Faire, and Lars Lunde for New York Renaissance Fair. Copyright updated 2017. 

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