Renaissance Faires - Things to Do (and Not Do) with your Children at a Renaissance Faire
Thinking of taking your child to his first renaissance faire?
Thinking of taking your child to your first renaissance faire?
Renaissance faires are great fun for children and adults alike, and there are a lot of ways you can make a great event even more amazing for yourself and your child.
Read on, MacDuff...
Check Ahead for Children's Activities
Some faires have activities especially planned for children, like:
- Children's games.
- Craft activities
- Tea times with characters
- Special events during the day, like being knighted by King Arthur or joining Robin Hood's band of merrymen.
Finding out about these ahead of time can enhance your day and create a special memory for your child.
Many faires have these listed on their websites, or will respond to an email of inquiry. Be sure to ask whether there is any registration or additional cost required, whether they happen at specific times of day, and if there are any other details that you need to know in order to participate.
Once you have the information, talk to your children to see if they want to do these activities. They may surprise you. Your wild child may find himself fascinated by the hands on weaving demonstration, and the quiet one may prefer sword practice to lunch with a princess.
Start Enjoying It Before You Get There
Half the fun is in the anticipation. You and your child can have a lot of fun getting ready before you go.
- Does your child like dress-up? A simple tabard or princess costume from last Halloween can make your child part of the shire. (Plan for costumes that adapt to the weather, and know that you may end up carrying hats, swords or cloaks.)
- A renaissance faire is immersive theatre, and, at a good faire, the cast will try to involve you and your child as much as you will permit. Tell your child about this, and model some skills for talking with the faire folk.
- Teach your child some simple renaissance words, such as "Milord" and "Milady" (Mr. and Mrs.) and "Huzzah" (hurrah!). This lets him participate in the faire more actively.
- Let our child be part of the planning for what you want to do at the faire.
Read Your Program
There are more things to do at a good renaissance faire than anyone can do in one day. Amongst all of this abundance, you'll have to choose what you want to do; and your program is there to help you do just that.
If you can get your hands on the schedule in advance online, look over the performances and events and start prioritizing what will most appeal to your family. If not, once you arrive, pull your party aside for a moment and consult a program to choose what you want to see first.
There may be times when your party may split into two or more groups, to meet the varying interests of the individual personalities involved; and the program can be a big help with that as well, helping you scatter to the four winds and then meet up for turkey legs afterwards.
Your program may also have a map in it, with important things such as stages, food and bathrooms. This makes it easier to get where you want to go.
Watch for Educational Opportunties
A renaissance faire is primarily entertainment, but many of them also have historical or educational components to them.
Depending on the faire, you might be able to
- watch the blacksmith forge items of iron.
- try a bit of weaving on the weaver's loom.
- ride a horse.
- attend page school and learn how children began to learn how to be knights.
- cook on an open fire.
- hear stories of lifelong ago.
Opportunities like these and many more may be found on the faire's website, in their program, or just scattered around a faire like precious jewels. Watch for them and take advantage of the chance to touch hands with the life of another time.
Interact with the Citizens of the Shire
A renaissance faire is unique in that it is immersive entertainment. This means that you, the visitor, are a part of the show, and that the citizens of the faire will do their best to involve you in the action as much as you will allow.
This is great fun, but may be startling to a child who is not used to being spoken to by people he doesn't know. At a good faire, the cast will have a good feel for how and how much to involve a child (especially a shy one) but you can help your child to enjoy this more by preparing him for it.
Teach him how to cheer "Huzzah!" when someone does something clever. Show him how to bow, or her to curtsy. Tell him it's ok to talk to characters or shop keepers and ask them questions.
Then have fun, as you all become part of the story.
Some Things Not to Do
There are lots of fun things to do at renaissance faires.
There are some things that you probably shouldn't do.
- Don't let your children free range, unless they're old enough to be responsible. Keep a close eye on your childrem, especially the younger ones, so that they don't ramble off. There's a lot of interesting things happening at renaissance faires, but there's a lot of ways to get into trouble too
- Watch out for passing horses, and don't get in their way. Children ducking across roads in front of horses or running across the tilting field risk injury.
- Don't run in front of or around people swinging or throwing weapons. Many faires have an attraction where you can shoot a bow, or throw axes, and children don't always notice the danger area.
Some other things worth considering
- If your child has problems with hitting other children (some lovely children do when they get carried away), it's probably not a good idea to buy her a sword, or let her play the "fight the knight" game.
- If you have small children, watch for shows labelled "bawdy". These are PG rated shows where some of the material is suggestive, mature or even adult (as was typical of the Middle Ages) and may not be fit for children's ears.
Stay safe, avoid the activities that are not child friendly and enjoy the rest of the faire.
Most of All, Have Fun
Above all, please remember to enjoy this unique type of immersive entertainment. Whether you plan your day intensely or just wander around in amazement, saying "wow", you're sure to find lots of things that will amuse and delight you and your family.
Share the magic of the renaissance faire with your children. There's something there for each and every one of you.