I lived in the Twin Cities for 10 years and often miss so much of what I took for granted when I was there.
One event that we go back for annually is the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. The festival runs weekends from mid-August thru the end of September. Each weekend features a different theme with special themed attractions, as well as all the regular fun.
The grounds are designed to resemble a village from the Elizabethian Era. You enter this fantasy world through the castle gates and are immediately immersed in the village market day. People are everywhere, in and out of costume, and the desire to be part of the fun is overwhelming.
The village is full of shops, carts, wandering minstrels and entertainment. Seeing everything will take an entire weekend. It can’t be done in one day.
As we enjoy a bit of fantasy we love to dress in period costume. This is not a necessity, however, and you are more likely to have the Festival characters interact with you if you are not in costume.
This beautiful faerie is probably the most photographed at the festival. She is silent and communicates with gestures and modest nods. She is terrific with children and they are drawn to her pipe playing and dancing. Our little faerie was mesmerized.
Because we go in costume we wouldn’t be caught in a regular wagon. Nope, a chariot is necessary.
When people think of Renaissance Festivals they think of bawdiness and adult humor. Which there is a lot of. But the Minnesota Renaissance Festival is filled with kid friendly activities. From flying with the swans to galloping over the land in a giant wooden rocking horse there are plenty of fun rides. If your kids like to climb the Jacob’s Ladder game is worth a try. For their competitive spirit there are loads of games like King of the Log, Dueling Buckets (prepare to get VERY wet!), rotten veggie tossing, and fencing, to name just a few.
And there is loads of family entertainment. Story tellers, jugglers, jousting, a petting zoo, pony rides…
There is also a Children’s Realm filled with fun crafts, a magician and a special stage. And don’t forget to take a walk on the Hobbit Trail to see where the “little people” live way back in the forest.
With all that great fun comes great hunger. And the Minnesota Renaissance Festival delivers anything you could want to fill that need. Soups, turkey legs, roasted corn, fresh pastries… the list is endless. My suggestions: have a Scotch Egg and an apple dumpling. Mmmmm… And don’t forget beverages to cure that parched palate. Beer, wine and cider are available as well as soda, water and juices.
With all the fun you’re having you may forget that the Minnesota Renaissance Festival also has great shopping. The crafters at the faire are the best of the best (for a list scroll to the bottom of the home page and click “crafters”). Apparel (go ahead, try on a costume!) glass blowing (most have artisit plying their trade on site), portrait artists, painters, sculpters, jewelers… Completely unique items- you’re sure to find something to take home with you.
What you need to know to go:
*Where: Shakopee, Minnesota; south of Minneapolis about 30 minutes.
*When: Weekends mid-August thru the end of September; 9am-7pm Rain or shine
*How much: $18.95 for adults, $16.95 for seniors and $9.95 agest 6-12 (2007 prices, be sure to check website for correct pricing). If you have a AAA card you can get a $2 discount and discount tickets are also available at local Super America convenience stores. You can also order tickets online but once you add in the convenience fee it’s not much of a savings. Only do this if you really don’t want to stand in line to purchase your ticket.