Maryland Renaissance Festival with Kids
I have been attending Renaissance festivals since I was a young child with my parents in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. The trend continued when my husband and I moved from Hawaii back to the DC area with the Renaissance festival in Maryland. Now that our son is old enough to enjoy it, we are back with tons of tips on what to see, where to go, what to eat and how to spend a day at the Rennaissance Festival in Maryland with kids.
One of my favorite parts about the Renassaince Festival in Maryland is the FREE parking! Yes! You read that right, parking is free and ample in the large field. There is also a separate area for handicapped parking.
We suggest arriving earlier in the day (9:45 am) to get parking up close and save yourself a bit of a walk.
The entrance is a bit nondescript, but follow the crowds and you’ll discover the ticket window (if you didn’t purchase your tickets online here). We always wait until the morning because they do not have a rain policy. So if it pours and you decide to leave, you’ll have to purchase another ticket for another day (no refunds). We also purchase tickets at the ticket booth because the military gets a discount (group cost), but only at the ticket window. Just show your ID for the discount.
Check out their ticket prices online at the website.
We also like to arrive early because at 9:55 am, the King and Queen welcome everyone to the renaissance fair with the trumpets horns and the arrival of the privileged guests on horseback. We enjoy getting into the spirit of the fair with all its pomp and circumstance.
As I frequently suggest in my posts, planning ahead can only benefit you. We like to read other family blogs about the renaissance fair to find out any tips and tricks.
We also look at the shows and jousting events to plan the day. We knew we wanted to see a jousting event, listen to some music and see a couple of kid-friendly shows. I’ll share more of which shows we saw below.
Make sure you grab cash. Some of the vendors will take credit cards, but the majority of the games and food vendors prefer or only offer cash options. There are a few ATM’s in the festival grounds, but it is usually easier to grab cash ahead of time.
Here is a map of the area to help get you started:
Tips with kids:
I wouldn’t say that the renaissance fair is stroller friendly, but it is doable if you are a stroller based family. You’ll have a bit of difficulty with the straw (getting caught in the wheels) and the tree roots poking up beneath the dirt. However, we did see at least a dozen strollers and they did alright on a slow-paced day. We also saw many baby carriers and hiking backpack carriers. They were able to easily move in the crowds, find seats and enjoy a bit of shopping. If you don’t have a baby carrier, check out these great options on Amazon.
You are able to bring food to the renaissance festival. No coolers, but feel free to pack a picnic, the kid’s snacks, and drinks. They technically only allow one bottle of non-alcoholic drink per person, but they do not have a bag check and I’ve never seen enforcement of this rule.
Feel free to let the kids dress up! We saw many costumes ranging from knights to princesses and wizards. There is even a child’s costume rental inside the festival. Amazon has a fun selection of medieval costumes if you’d like to add something to the dress up bin.
There are five bathroom zones within the festival and one located outside the main gate. Make sure you grab a map to keep handy when the need arises. They are all porta potty style with changing tables located on the female side of the restrooms. They provide plenty of wipes to clean your hands.
Top things to do with Kids:
Slides: Head to the back of the park to find the giant wooden slides. It is $1 per ride and they get the thrill of flying down the bumps. Be warned, the kids can go on their own at 42″, but I wouldn’t recommend it. After flying down on his own, our son decided the comfort of going with mom and dad was more his style. It isn’t free to go with the kids, so it will be $2 for the two of you.
Playground: Right across from the giant wooden slides is the fun playground! This was a spot frequented by our family for a nice break from the revelry. It features a large pirate ship with secret staircases, tunnel slides, climbing ropes, and a steering wheel. Adjacent to the pirate boat is a set of swings and another smaller play structure with additional slides. It is fenced and tucked down by the woods, which provides a wonderful space to relax a bit on the provided picnic tables and watch the little ones burn some energy.
Crooked Cottage Stage: This is where you’ll find all the child-centered stage acts. We caught the tail end of a fun puppet show. Then after another visit to the playground, we sat down to listen to a fun storyteller. Our son was even picked to play the part of the big bad wolf! He REALLY enjoyed being part of the show!
Juggling School: If you have a child 6 years old or older, you can learn to juggle at the juggling school right next to the Crooked Cottage Stage. The staff is super helpful and enjoys sharing their knowledge to help your little one become an expert juggler.
Climbing Wall: Another fun kid-friendly activity in this back section is the climbing wall. They have various difficulty levels to choose from. If mom or dad is an expert climber, you can take the challenge to climb up the toughest section, ring a bell and win $30! Challenge accepted?
Pony/Elephant/Camel rides: For a fee, you can ride a few various animals within the fair. The lines can get a bit long, so if this is on your list, I’d head there sooner than later. You’ll enjoy around the arena and then depart for the next rider to jump on.
Games: There are games for all ages scattered throughout the grounds. For $1-$2, your children can enjoy climbing Jacob’s ladder, shooting suction cup darts from crossbows, shooting mini canons, launching frogs off catapults and more. Some games do require a minimum age, such as knife throwing and battle ax throwing, but we found plenty of age-appropriate fun!
Maze: This is another really fun family-friendly event. Older kids can go in on their own. We paid $6 for the three of us to enter and then the lady at the entrance was nice enough to let our son enjoy another free run through the maze on his own. We waited close by to play catch when he found the exit.
The best part about paying your admission fee to enter the festival is all the amazing shows and musical acts that you can enjoy throughout your visit. It’s fun to see some of the same shows year after year with slight variations. I still sing some of the hilarious songs by one of the musical acts that I saw as a child and my dad purchased a CD to torture (I mean let us enjoy) in the car.
Treasure Quest (Gatehouse Stage): This is a pirate magic act by a solo actor. Children are invited to participate, but we didn’t find it to be a favorite. It was child-friendly, but the magic tricks were silly and there weren’t too many laughs or ooh’s and aw’s from the crowd.
Fight School: This a fun one if your kids enjoy a good sword fight. Probably best for children a bit older since at least 1/2 the show is talking and telling silly jokes to get the crowd going. Add in some sword fighting and it makes a fun show. Note: depending on the season, the fight show may only be onstage later in the day.
Fun with Science: Head back to the Crooked Cottage Stage to enjoy a child-friendly science show. We ended up catching another show and missing this one, but it is recommended by other families who said they’ve enjoyed it.
Cu Dubh: Located at the Market Stage (near the jousting arena), we really like this group. It is a combination of drums and bagpipes. You can check them out on their facebook page here.
Wheel of Death: This is another fun show for kids with his death-defying stunts on a giant wheel. We love how he grabs the attention of the crowds, add a bit of silliness (at the delight of the crowd) and then begins the fun portion of his act as he ups the ante with each circle. If you thought running on the inside of his wheel wasn’t enough, just wait. It’s a favorite!
All about Jousting
You certainly don’t want to miss the jousting events in the arena. There is a mix of archery, jousting, raptor shows and more. Be sure to catch one show or quite a few.
Toys for Big Boys: This show is first off in the morning and it features guns, archery, catapults and more. It’s probably too slow for younger children, but if your children are into medieval weapons, its a great display.
Jousting: You’ll see three different jousting events on the listings. Each show is a bit different as we discovered. The first show features four knights competing in different games on horseback. A variety including horsemanship, skill, jousting and acrobatic display. The second show featured a bit more of the games, but then added an all-out brawl and chariot! The chariots were added recently and are a really fun addition. The last show is the completion of the story, but it doesn’t start until 6 pm, so keep that in mind for your exit strategy.
Sampling the Delicious Food Options
Ok, let’s be real, this is one of our favorite things about the Renaissance festival! If you can dream of a food item on a stick, the Renaissance fair has it! I’ll list some of our favorites:
This one is for the kids: macaroni and cheese on a stick. Yep, that’s right. Breaded triangles of delicious moist macaroni and cheese on a stick. We always grab two sticks because my husband and son aren’t great at sharing.
If you’ve got a meat eater on your hands, you can’t miss the giant turkey legs or the huntsman sandwich (BBQ pork sandwich). They also have a variety of meat pies for your hungry bellies.
The mini corn dogs and pretzel dogs are also an easy favorite with kids. Add a side of curly fries and that should help power up the kids for more exploring.
My favorite includes sweet corn. You can get it dipped in butter and then add some salt and seasonings for a tasty fair treat.
If you need to keep cool, especially when you are sitting in the sun at the jousting events, look directly behind you to the vendor with the $1 frozen lemonade. Grab one for each family member and stay cool!
Deserts: Ok, the options are many and quite varied. Sweet crepes? Oreo milkshake? Apple fritters? Funnel cake sticks? Cheesecake on a stick? (See? I told you that they love to put food on a stick!)
Drinks: Bring a sippy cup for the little ones and a Thermos drink cup for the big kids. The drinks aren’t in covered containers and the bees do get attracted to the sweet sugary drinks. We saw at least two visitors with bee stings.
The selections include alcoholic options (hard cider, beer, mead, wine and more) and non-alcoholic options (Pepsi products, bottled water, and lemon-date). The slushie options are also great on warm September days.
Shopping, a medieval delight
Oh my! There are so many amazing handmade and handcrafted items to choose from. If you can dream about it, you’ll likely find it here at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.
We enjoyed watching the glassmaker work on an octopus right in front of the shop and venture into the dragon leatherworker. Or perhaps your children would enjoy watching the blacksmith create swords or shields.
There is beautiful jewelry to tempt the ladies in the group and unique clothing to add to your wardrobe. For the men, they get to marvel at various weapons featured throughout the fair and find a new drinking container in wood, leather or metal.
For the kids, add a wooden sword, shield or dip their hand in wax for a permanent memory. We grabbed a cool dragon shield to add to our son’s collection over by the jousting arena. The prices are reasonable.
The various Renaissance festivals across the US will always be a favorite family-friendly event. We’ve been to medieval festivals all over Europe and the Maryland Renaissance Fair is highly competitive with its variety of entertainment, delicious food offers and an array of handcrafted goods. It also isn’t overly expensive when you think about what the ticket includes: a day of entertainment and well-priced food options. I hope I’ve given you some great tips to make the most of your day!
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