Medieval madness: The Bristol Renaissance Faire

I am a lover of all things weird. The surreal, wacky, escapist nature of a renaissance fair beckons my name like a “Hear Ye, Hear Ye!” sign.


So when I found out that one of the best renaissance fairs in the country was just an hour from Chicago, I immediately started considering the type of flower wreath I wanted to wear.

The Bristol Renaissance Faire is a total hoot. Not only are the extensive grounds laden with artisan craft booths and gorgeous décor, but there is just a ton to do. Kid rides such as the Hurl and Twirl, climbing wall, butterfly ride, Captains Cannons and Da Vinci’s Flying Machine, and interactive performances—from Shakespearean shorts to acrobatic wonder to comedy sketches—are around every pebbled path.

The entire set-up makes you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time, into a world where people are adorned with ornate feathers and billowy pants, and eat lots and lots of turkey legs. Incredibly friendly craftsmen and women engage you on your stroll through the fair, selling you their wares such as pottery, lotions and jewelry.

The best show in renaissance town is the joust, so make sure to stop by to watch the “queen’s favorite sport” and cheer for your section’s designated jouster.

In the same area as the Joust Field, kids can practice their own jousting and fencing skills, meet a unicorn and watch a blacksmith weld things. Kids can take part in interactive activities as well, such as being knighted by the queen, working on a pirate ship and going to the petting zoo.

The Faire debuted a new Kids’ Kingdom this year, where little knights and princesses can watch and engage with performances made just for them and play dress up in the many photo-op spots. The Kids’ Kingdom also houses the indoor, air-conditioned rest area for changing and nursing.

It’s an entire day’s worth of outdoor fun, so make sure to pack the sunscreen and check the forecast.

But the best part about the Faire with children is that the workers are totally devoted to staying in character with the kids.

I saw a princess eating lunch with a toddler, a swordsman telling a young boy how to slay a dragon and a gypsy playing a tambourine while children danced. And even though the princesses can’t come home with you, much to the aforementioned toddler’s dismay, the whole experience gives kids a chance to ask questions about a piece of history while actually being immersed in the period at the same time.

If you are interested in whimsical weirdness, or even if you just want a fun family day in the forest to shop, ride rides and view live theater, go thither to thee Bristol Renaissance Faire. Prithee enjoy your visit.

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