Bay Area Renaissance Faire - A Family Event
Northern CA Renaissance Faire - What to Expect
I had no idea what to expect before going to Northern California Renaissance Faire in Hollister with my son's 6th grade class. It turned out the Renaissance Faire was an eye opening experience for me. It presented a setting of a small village and wowed the visitors with its Renaissance charm. Renaissance music blared in the air while dancers moved graciously to the rhythm on stage. Decorative flags waved in the breeze as if they were greeting the visitors. Small stalls lined along both sides of small streets showing of their signature Renaissance products as their vendors busily talking with customers. Noise from the talking, laughing and greeting seemed to compete with the music in the background. The scene and atmosphere took me right back in time to the Renaissance period despite modern clothes that were still on me. I was totally overwhelmed.
Life in Renaissance
Renaissance is the rebirth of Europe. It marked the beginning of modern history after the end of Middle Ages. It was an important cultural movement that encouraged human achievement and the importance of individuals. Italy began the lead of the movement in the 14th century and later the movement spread out to the rest of Europe until the 17th century. During the Renaissance period, new techniques on creations were used. We can see the changes and influence of this cultural movement by looking at the art works of architecture, painting and sculpture that were made during that period. Renaissance was also an important period for many inventions such as mariner's compass and gunpowder, and for exploration of new continents. The government also enjoyed the growth of monarchy.
At Northern CA Renaissance Faire we had a glimpse of the life during Renaissance period. It showcased the history of Renaissance period by demonstrating what Renaissance people did and used, such as Renaissance games, Renaissance fashion and Renaissance inventions. People who worked there were all dressed in Renaissance fashion and acted with Renaissance mannerism. It was fascinating to watch all those Renaissance characters such as Queen Elizabeth, Sir Francis Drake, happy peasants, crooked constables, gossiping washerwomen, and merry maidens going about their own businesses. It made people like me who wore our modern clothes feel and look like a foreigner.
Almost every corner we turned, there are people who dressed in Theme Characters going about their own business as if they were really living in the Renaissance time. There were women washing clothes, people greeting each other in a loud voice and manner that we don't often see, or strolling down the street with a mug of drink. There were also royal guards patrolling the streets with swords tucked in their belts, greeting visitors from time to time. At an appointed time, Queen Elizabeth was escorted by her royal guards and strolled around in the village and chatted with visitors. We also saw her at tea time. It provided great opportunities for visitors to interact with the characters there. I felt like I was watching a great Renaissance show as well as being a part of the show at the same time.
Fun and Educational
We're living in a high-tech era when most of the chores are handled by machines. A lot of kids found it fascinating to watch how a group of Renaissance women washed a large load of clothing by hand. Shops also presented the history of Renaissance by carrying all different types of products that were used during Renaissance period. There were Renaissance dresses for women and renaissance clothing for men and children, hand made pottery painted with Renaissance arts, and Renaissance sword and wooden shield. My kids loved those handmade wooden toys and bought them for souvenirs. We even saw a wooden machine for making fabric.
There were plenty of games and shows there to keep you busy. But be aware that not all the games are suitable for kids. The Giant Swings was really fun and silly; the archery was very cool for older kids. We skipped the scary games such as Knife Throwing and Axe Throw which were more for adults. Visitors were welcome to participate in most of the shows. The Horse Ride show was very entertaining but crowded. Luckily we got there early and able to find seats.
Parking and Food
Parking was free but dusty because the parking lot was an open field without concrete pavement.
Food was good but expensive which was expected. We ate before we went in and brought our own bottles of water.
Tickets - 2012
General Admission Tickets
Kids 12 and Under
Full Season with a Fairever Pass: 10-day access
Group Sales: 15 or more
$5 off adult tickets. Use promotional code "group" for online discount
Theme Weekends - 2012
September 15th & 16th
Special opening weekend offer
Pirate Invasion Weekend
September 22nd & 23rd
Sir Frances Drake is looking for new crew memebers. Wee pirate costume contest and kids age of 7 and under can meet the Queen and Captiain Drake.
September 29th and 30th
Wear a mask and/or garland and join the celebration of Bacchanal and the traditional fest of Michaelmas.
October 6th & 7th
Fairies and other mystical creatures will be all over the town. You might also catch a glimpse of Titania - the Queen of the Fairies.
Closing Weekend Festivities
October 13th & 14th
The final weekend that fill with fun activities.