One of our favorite fall activities since moving to Annapolis is attending the annual Maryland Renaissance Festival. Commonly called Renfest, this celebration of merriment runs every weekend from late August through late October. We make a point to go every year and it’s always well worth the trip.
The great thing about the Maryland Renaissance Festival is there are tons and tons of activities for kids of any age. There are 12 different performance stages jam-packed with entertainment from jousting to musical performances, to juggling, to falconry. In addition to the stages, there are countless games including Drench a Wench/Soak a Bloke, axe throwing, Jacob’s ladder, pony rides, and so much more.
If all the activities aren’t enough, there’s the food. The best way I can describe the food at Renfest is “slightly unhinged classic fair food”. So many things “on a stick” that I feel like don’t belong on a stick but somehow work. I always laugh at fried ice cream on a stick. The physics and logistics just make no sense to me.
In addition to the classic carnival food, there is a wide array of season treats like apple pie, soup in a bread bowl, and, my favorite, smoked turkey legs. Plus, Renfest offers a wide selection of beer, mead, wine, and other alcoholic beverages. This year they started giving out wristbands for those of age and limiting one drink per person at a time. Not a problem, just something to note if you’re trying to save seats for a show.
On top of all the activities and yummy food, there are countless vendors selling costumes, jewelry, glass creations, metalworks, and so much more.
This year when we arrived, we made a bee-line straight to a flower crown vendor for our little forest fairy. Did we spend too much on it? Probably. Did she love it? Absolutely. We enjoyed wandering around a bit before heading over to the Joust Arena for the equestrian show. Of all the shows, this is the one not to miss. The performers are superb and our girl loved seeing horses up close.
After the joust, we stopped for lunch before heading over to the free pony rides. This was absolutely the highlight of the day for our girlie. We also spent time enjoying musical performances and perusing various artesian shops.
As our daughter grows up, I see Renfest getting more and more fun. Last year she was way too little to understand anything. This year she was mesmerized but a little overwhelmed. Next year I have a feeling she’ll be ready to jump right in.
Tips and Tricks:
- Go Early. Doors open at 10:00 am and I’d recommend getting there as early as possible. Also, tickets must be purchased in advance.
- Plan Ahead. Especially in October, tickets will sell out. Be sure to plan accordingly and don’t wait until the last minute.
- Bring Food in Your Car. I love all the crazy carnival food, but it’s costly. Re-entry is allowed, so bring a lunch for a quick picnic. One exception to the no outside food rule: you can also bring in one sealed bottle of water per person.
- Cash Only. Some of the artisans take cards or Venmo, but all of the food vendors take cash only. There are ATM machines on site, but lines can get long.
- Strollers are Tricky. Renfest is located under lovely old-growth trees with lots of roots. The paths are unpaved and the gravel can be tricky to navigate. Plus, there are some steep spots. We managed with our little stroller this year, but it’s definitely not the most accessible.
- Dress for the Weather. Renfest is rain or shine. Sunscreen is a must for the joust arena.
- No Costume? No Problem! As soon as you enter the are a few costume rental shops.