Have you heard about The Bristol Renaissance Faire? It’s one of our family’s favorite fests and has become a family tradition to attend every year. When we don’t, our summer is not complete. That’s how much we love it.
As you step through the gates, you’ll immediately be transported to 1574 when Queen Elizabeth visited the small town of Bristol, and you are immersed in all the merriment. Merchants are selling their wares. Music fills the air. Townspeople are going about their business. If you’re lucky, you may even spot the Queen with her party. It’s a time when you can forget about the worries of the modern world. A magical time with the family.
- Play dress up or watch people that do. If you’ve ever wanted an excuse to dress up in your Renaissance gear other than Halloween, or any type of costume, this is the place to do it. My little one couldn’t wait to dress up as a princess.
- Meet a fairie. The grassy area dubbed the Fairie Glen is a place where fairies will interact with kids only. The interaction between child and fairie is completely silent and quite magical.
- Shop ’til you drop. They have all sorts of unique wares from wooden cups, goblets, chain maile, kilts, jewelry. Definitely something you don’t see everyday.
- Kids Kingdom is made for kids. There are a couple pirate ships kids can climb or a fun slide. Plenty of photo ops here including five new thrones: a Pirate Throne, Fairy Throne, Dragon Throne, Tree Beard Thorne, and Jester’s Throne. Note: There are changing rooms and a nursing station here.
Warning: The kids may never want to leave this area.
- Get knighted. Make sure you visit the Kids Kingdom at 4:15 p.m. when the Queen will perform the Knighting Ceremony. How cool is that?
- Unique games and rides. To stay true to the era, the rides are all powered by muscle. Most have a small fee.
- Free kiddie activities. Who says you need to pay to have fun? There are a few things that are complimentary. Push wooden boats with a stick at Mouseboro Pond, try on armor or participate in Kiddie Pike Drills at the Military Encampment, or play in giant sandboxes at Kids Kingdom and Mouseboro.
- Kids Quest. If you have an adventurer they will love Kids Quest! Their mission is to fix the mistakes found in fairy tales while helping Pinocchio become a real boy. Interact with characters while searching for treasure. Best for ages 4-10 and parents need to accompany kids. ($5/child)
- Food is a must at the Faire. Our must-eats are the giant turkey legs, artichokes, Spanish fries, stewed mushrooms, sassafrass, and mead. Lots of lots of mead. We always hear about the cheese fritters, monkey tails, and pickles on a stick. Next time!
- An unscripted Joust. The audience has three chances to see the Joust. The horsemen/women are true athletes who are truly competing for points — the joust is unscripted, and the lances they use are solid pine.
- Fun shows The comedic act Cirque du Sewer combines acrobatics, rescued rats and cat. It’s one not to miss! Adam Crack does an electrifying fire whip show. In the past, we’ve also enjoyed the hilarious Mud show.
- Entertainers everywhere we turned. We didn’t need to necessarily stop to see a scheduled show onstage; there were entertainment wherever we went whether it be a fiddle player, statue-like people, or a man in a box.
Tips to enjoy Bristol Renaissance Faire:
- Wear comfy shoes. The ground is mostly gravel.
- When you enter, pick up a map and schedule of the events to help plan your day. Or better yet, check out their schedule and map online.
- Cash is king at the Faire, so be prepared to bring to some. Only a few vendors accept credit cards. If you don’t, there are ATMs available.
- Privvies are available throughout, but if you are looking for modern plumbing the nicest restrooms are close to the entrance (next to the pony rides).
- Most shows request tips afterward. If you wish to avoid doing, a few places do not ask: any show with Queen Elizabeth, the Jousts, Kids Kingdom, and the Nobles Glade
- Bring your own refillable water bottle to save money. Note: Don’t try to fill it with anything but water or bring anything out for that matter. Their security will have you open it up and do a sniff test.
- Feel free to bring in a few snacks for picky eaters.
- Save money by buying tickets at Walgreens or Groupon if available.
How can you not love the Bristol Renaissance Faire? The food is fantastic, the shows highly entertaining, it’s a unique experience full of fun everywhere you turn. I can’t recommend this fun, family event enough! It’s truly magical! I’m sure it will become your next family tradition as well.
Admission: Admission is $25.95 per adult, $11.50 for children 5-12, and kids 4 and under are free. Discount tickets are available at participating Walgreens.
Hours: Open Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day (July 8 – Sept. 4) 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Location: 12550 120th Ave., Kenosha, WI. The Bristol Renaissance Faire is located close to the border between Illinois and Wisconsin.
Parking: Preferred parking is $5. There is free parking if you don’t mind walking a little bit further. There are privies (bathrooms) located throughout.
Stroller-friendly? There is a lot of ground to cover, so you can bring your stroller though it may be a little tricky maneuvering through the hills, crowds, and gravel. If you have a baby, I’d recommend babywearing. If you have toddlers, a wagon may be better for you.
Food: Don’t leave without trying some of the food. It’s tradition to get a turkey leg and mushroom soup.
Crowded: We were here on a Saturday afternoon
Best for: The entire family!
Plan to spend: The whole day!
Disclosure: Our family was given complimentary tickets to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. I was not required to express a particular point of view and all opinions are my own.