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Southern California: Best Renaissance Festivals and Ren Faires for Family Fun. musicians meet at Central Coast Renaissance Festival in San Luis ObispoBreakaway from the demands of the life in the 21st century for a day and time travel with your kids to a place where storytellers, bards, falconers, fairies, and magicians mingle with lords and ladies, knights, and perhaps a mythical dragon. 

Here’s the scoop. For any parent or grandparent with an interest in European history, sharing time at a Renaissance faire or festival with a child is a treat. The potential for uncomplicated fun and learning is obvious. And the chance to disconnect from technology (if only for a day) and still have fun has obvious benefits. No two festivals are the same but each of the ones I have selected offers ways for families to be part of living history spanning the 14th through the 16th centuries in Europe. Renaissance festivals and Ren faires are meant to be shared with children - just for the fun of it.Central Coast Renaissance Faire Face Painting in San Luis Obispo, CA
Central Coast Renaissance Festival – Black sheep games, archery and face painting (mid July) The Enchanted Forest is the exact spot to step back in time to the year of 1585 when Queen Elizabeth I reigned all of England. Walk among dukes, earls, lords, ladies, rogues and scoundrels all of whom populate the village. See Her Majesty and her attendants; watch authentic Elizabethan dancing, and plays. Storytellers, bards, and musicians wander the village keeping things lively.  Additional entertainment venues include daily jousts, vocal groups, a comedy parrot show, juggling acts, buffoonery. The marketplace will offer shirts, bodices, britches, doublets, skirts, boots, hats, belts and complete costumes of the period plus musical instruments, jewelry, toys, and crockery. Bonus Points: Children will enjoy face painting, pony rides, a petting zoo and clever games created just for them. Details: Laguna Lake Park, San Luis Obispo California 95451. O r go to Central Coast Renaissance Festival.

Simi Valley Nottingham Festival – A Ventura County time link with the 16th century
(mid November). Join the festivities of a traditional Renaissance faire complete with an Elizabethan village and marketplace. The Nottingham Festival focuses on education and entertainment of a specific historical time period - 16th century Elizabethan England. Living history actors, strolling musicians and jugglers, horse tournaments create the ambiance of the time. Add six theatrical stages showcasing dancers, musical groups, children's theatre, and a replica of the famous Globe Theater in London. Here’s the deal.  Children 12 and younger may attend for free and there will be plenty of free parking. Wait for it! Plans are underway for a three-weekend long Nottingham Festival and Renaissance Faire in Moorpark during August. Details: Rancho Tapo Community Park (a.k.a. Lemon Park) 3700 Avenida Simi, Simi Valley, CA 93063.  Planning details: or
Big Bear City Renaissance Festival (weekends in August).  Step into a Renaissance (circa 1558-1603) shire in the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains. The faire provides an escape for all ages filled with mirth, merriment, and make believe. Six stages present ongoing entertainment; jousting enlivens the arena; the Great Square is reserved for pirate battles, and festive Maypole dances. Gardini, the famous court jester, will make a special appearance. Bonus Points: Victoria Goring, the mistress of tales, will be onsite to spin her enchanting tales for families and coach youngsters in the most innovative of sword fighting skills. Wait for it! See and hear performances from the Children’s Medieval Band as they play authentic Renaissance music. Details: Pedersens Mill 39115 Rim of the World Dr. Fawnskin, CA. (909) 237-0448 or Big Bear City Renaissance Faire.

View details about more Renaissance faires and festivals in Northern California.

Content researched and posted with comments by Nancy Nelson-Duac, FTF Curator of the Good Stuff. Images courtesy San Luis Obispo Renaissance Faire and Big Bear City Renaissance Faire. Copyright updated 2015.   

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