Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to a perfect 24 Hours of the best things to do in the New York Renaissance Faire! Some attractions in New York State, like the Statue of Liberty or the Times Square Olive Garden are known all around the world. But some are known mostly only to locals.
That’s where the New York Renaissance Faire comes in. This wonderful festival lasts from August to September every year, and it’s a true New York tradition. In fact, this native New Yorker has been visiting the Ren Faire every year since she was seven years old…and loving it! It’s easy to get to from New York City; detailed instructions on how to get here, including by bus if you don’t have a car, are here. So join me for a day of mead, magic, and more. HUZZAH!
Things to Do in the New York Renaissance Faire
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today at the New York Renaissance Faire. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
New York is hot in the summer, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, since we’re going to be out all day, you’ll want a battery for your cell phone. I always use the Anker charger. It’s light enough to fit in even a small purse. Plus the Anker lasts for several full charges of a phone, so I’ll never run out of juice!
Things to Do in the New York State Renaissance Faire
The New York State Renaissance Faire is the same every year, except when it is different. There are some acts and shops that come every single year, and then there are some old acts that never return and new favorites to meet and enjoy. I’ll share my favorite shows, shops, and snacks, but be sure to check the (free) schedule at the information booth when you arrive for more up to date into on showtimes.
And now that the preliminaries are out of the way, I give you…
Approximately Top 5: Morning at the Ren Faire!
1) Dave’s Mini Donuts
Dave’s Mini Donuts are my traditional way to start a day at the Ren Faire. Did they have mini donuts during the Renaissance? Probably not. But get used to anachronism. We’re at the Ren Faire! Dave’s Mini Donuts can come plain, but I prefer to get mine in one of their crazy flavors like S’mores or Pumpkin Spice. They are made piping hot, fresh to order, and soooo tasty. You’ll be busting out of your corset by the time for finished. And yes, I do wear an actual corset to the Ren Faire.
You can’t see it, but trust me that it’s there.
24 Hour Tip
Bring tons of one dollar bills to the Ren Faire for the tip jars. Every time you tip, the food staff will yell, “HUZZAH TO MY LOVELY TIPPER!!!!” or words to that effect. It will definitely include the word Huzzah, though.
Aside from the food and shopping, the best thing about the Ren Faire is the shows. Don’t miss Acrobatrix, which is a husband/wife acrobat/contortionist themed show. They tell corny jokes! (One of the tricks involves the wife, Star, stuffing herself into a tiny glass box, and she says the trick is called “Will It Fit?”) They’re both in incredible shape! Sometimes they kiss during their acts! At one point Star will almost definitely do crazy tricks while balancing from his hands. It’s very light-hearted and entertaining.
Remember that all the shows are free, so please bring some 5 dollars bills or such to tip the entertainers. I don’t think anyone ever got rich performing Ren Faires, so all tips are greatly appreciated. Some of the acts do sell merchandise as well.
3) Shakespeare Approves!
Shakespeare Approves, performed by an actor who looks disturbingly like the Bard of Avon, is a comedy show that is generally appropriate for all ages. (This is not necessarily a given at the Ren Faire. I will never forget the time I went with a friend of mine and we saw an unspeakably stupid show in which a man repeatedly threatened a woman that he was going to “baron all over your hastings”. I didn’t know what this meant, but it seemed like a truly vile sexual innuedo. There’s none of that at Shakespeare Approves. HUZZAH!
Shakespeare Approves shows different parodies of Shakespeare plays throughout the day. My personal favorite is Macbeth: Death by Fluffy Kittens, but Julius Caesar: Ides of March of the Penguins is also very funny. Shakespeare Approves casts the entire show with random audience members, so get ready to be on stage and pelted with a whole bunch of Beanie Baby kittens! Like I said, fun for the whole family.
4) Meat on a Stick!
After all those acrobatics and murderous kittens, we’re going to want some lunch! There are a ton of options at the New York Renaissance Faire, but there’s just something so appropriate about sinking your teeth into a hunk of meat when you’re pretending to live in medieval times. (Why are there so many medieval references at a Renaissance Faire? Don’t ask questions; just go with it.)
I often stop at the Willow’s Fare for their treats to tempt any carnivore. The go-to move would be the turkey leg, but something this is just too much meat and sodium for one princess. If I’m feeling a lighter snack, I go for a Steak on a Stake. The meat is moist and flavorful, there’s just the right amount of food, and the name is very fun to say. Got to love a clean, meat-related pun! HUZZAH!
Things to do at the New York Renaissance Faire
Afternoon: Even More Ren Faire Fun!
The afternoon at the New York Renaissance Faire always brings the main event: the joust! Now, the Ren Faire has its own storyline involving Robin Hood, Maid Marion, and…Queen Elizabeth, which is totally historically inaccurate. They really should call this the New York State Anachronism Faire. And perhaps someday I will devote a post to leading you around the different Robin Hood scenes that take place all around the Faire throughout the day.
But for this post, join me for an afternoon of lances, bananas, and other things that are super phallic. Let’s get ready for faire fune with…
Approximately Top 5: Ren Faire Afternoon!
1) Banana Time!
After our Steak on a Stick (or turkey leg or falafel—there’s plenty of veggie options at the Ren Faire), it’s time for dessert! And at the Ren Faire, the best option for dessert is something frozen, since it’s usually hot as fire from the Spanish Armada in New York in August. If you want something traditional, go for a fruit ice served inside a frozen orange peel. They’ve been serving this at the Ren Faire since the 90s! HUZZAH!
Yes, this is actually me, my best friend, and my Mom at the Ren Faire a jillion years ago. And the fruit ices still taste as good today! But I prefer the chocolate-covered bananas from King Arthur’s Round Table & Lady Guinevere’s Goodies. Simple, decadent, and satisfying.
Just be sure to let them thaw a little because they are truly deep frozen when you buy them. Arthur and Guinevere don’t mess around when it comes to high quality fridges. (Also does it confuse Arthur and Guinevere that Queen Elizabeth I is around at the same time they are? This is what happens when you try to make the Ren Faire make sense.)
2) To the Death! No, to the Pain!
The main event in any Ren Faire guest’s life has got to be attending the joust. This joust has everything: real men and women jabbing giant spears at each other whilst on horseback, elaborate tricks involving catching rings on said spears, and Queen Elizabeth making yet another anachronistic appearance. There are two jousts per day, but the second one is too late for us to make our bus back to New York if we see it. Let’s catch the earlier show instead.
Technically speaking the joust is free, but since it’s so popular, you need to get there insanely early if you want a decent seat. Or for just a few dollars, you can reserve a seat for the joust in the nearby booth and get a comfy place to sit, a bottle of water, and an assigned seat cheering on one of the four jousters. HUZZAH! (I always choose to pay a little extra.)
Please feel free to cheer on your champion, but don’t start screeching, “BOOOO! I HAAAATE YOU!” at the others, as one little boy I sat near at the Ren Faire did. They’re all just actors; no need to act like one of them is Tom Brady and deserves all your loathing.
3) Imbibe Mead
Many drinks are present at the Ren Faire, from standard Coca-Colas to slushy and frosted coffee contraptions. But there is only one drink you simply MUST partake of at the Ren Faire, and that is the honey wine known as mead. (Providing you are at least 21 years of age; please don’t sue me for encouraging minors to drink!)
At the Ren Faire, you can drink mead neat or as part of a mead cocktail–I recommend it mixed with hard cider. Or do as I do and get both in one day. At the Ren Faire, no one will judge you. Just be sure to have ID with you at all times. The Ren Faire cards literally everyone on policy, so even if you are 1000 years old and covered with grey hair and wrinkles, please bring your driver’s license or passport.
4) Aaron Bonk
I can’t guarantee that Aaron Bonk is the most popular show at the New York Renaissance Faire. But I also can’t guarantee that he isn’t! His shows always seem to fill out crazy fast, so get there early if you want to get a good seat. People come from all over the Ren Faire to see his tricks with fire, whips, swords, and fire whips. That might be why his act is so crowded…because you can’t sit in the first couple of rows due to the fire whips.
Mr. Bonk, who claims this is his real name, has a charmingly low-key sense of humor for a Ren Faire performer. His most common punchline is, “That’s….not a joke.” But you didn’t come for the jokes! You came to watch a Guinness Book of World Records veteran balance a bunch of swords on his head and crack whips that have been coated in flame! And you will surely get what you came for. BONK!
Things to Do at the New York Renaissance Faire
Evening: Start Wrapping it Up!
We can’t really claim to be spending a whole evening at the New York Renaissance Faire because our bus back home usually leaves around 6:30 in the PM. But that doesn’t mean we won’t have plenty of time for fun! There’ll be as much eating, shopping, and exploring as we can cram into a couple of hours. But first—ART!
Approximately Top 5: Ren Faire Evening
Glassblowing demonstrations take place in the middle of “town” at the Ren Faire several times a day. You really can’t miss it–just look for the massive oven. Watching the master glassblower turn what look like flecks of nothingness into majestic vases, mugs, and pumpkins using nothing but heat, a few tools, and their skill is nothing short of incredible to witness.
After the glassblowing demonstration, consider buying a one of a kind piece of glass art from the glassblowers. Every year I tell myself I have enough and every year I end up buying something new: a mug, a vase, a pumpkin…Each piece is handmade and unique, so you’ll never have to worry about seeing your new purchase at your snobby neighbor’s house. Let them turn green with envy!
2) Shoppe Til Ye Droppe!
I’m not posting the same photo of myself twice in one post because I am an egomaniac, Internet Stranger. It’s to teach you about my third favorite activity at the Ren Faire: shopping! And in this photo, I am showing off some of my favorite stores, aside from the glassblowers.
First, you’re going to want a costume at the Ren Faire, and the easiest costume to get is a hat or other headpiece like my circlet. I purchased both the topper I am wearing here and the one from my childhood photo at Madd Hatter. (Yes, they’ve been around since before I was born, and they are the best Ren Faire haberdashers, in this humble opinion.) Their slogan is “It’s all about the hat” and truer words were ne’er spoken.
Next you might want to pick up some jewelry, and I suggest grabbing some lovely baubles at Rozelisa’s, who makes all her pieces by hand. You can see my fab purple earrings in the photo, right? Well, I got them from her, of course! Isn’t it amazing how they match my face paint? She has a new collection every year, so I buy a piece from her every time I come to the Ren Faire. I guarantee you’ll love what you buy from her too.
3) Wander About!
The New York Renaissance Faire is located in stunning Tuxedo, NY, and for city dwellers, it’s a bucolic escape from hectic urban life. Take some time to just stroll about and enjoy the trees and water. It’s like nature but better because there are clean Porto-Potties everywhere! You can even rent a boat if you have a friend with you and go for a spin around the lake.
Keep a weather eye out for Easter eggs hidden around the Ren Faire, like little troll statues planted in the woods or people dressed as fairies who will try to start conversations with you like they just stepped out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or a dude wandering about with an accordion playing the Game of Thrones theme. And definitely don’t miss the stocks!
Are you more of a guttersnipe or a spiteful gossip, Internet Stranger? You can confide in me. I’ll never tell!
4) A Snack for the Road!
There are a few things a visitor to the New York Renaissance Faire simply must consume on every trip: a glass of mead, meat you eat with your fingers, a frozen dessert…and of course a pickle from a cart. For just a few dollars (3 on my last trip), you can enjoy the meatiest, briniest, saltiest pickle this side of the Renaissance. Before #metoo, you could expect a salty joke to go with a salty pickle, but the vendors seem to have toned that action down.
Once you’ve nabbed your Ren Faire Pickle, it’ll be time to head back home on the bus. Huzzah and kudos to you for making it through a perfect 24 hours at the New York Renaissance Faire!
24 Hour Tip
Please remember that the pickle carts and some other vendors are cash only, so bring plenty of cash with you to the Ren Faire. There are ATMs all around, but sometimes they run out by the end of the day.
That’s The Best Things at the New York Renaissance Faire!
What do you think are the best things to do at the New York Renaissance Faire? Is sexual innuendo about pickles allowed or not allowed? Huzzah???? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours with the best things to do at the New York Renaissance Faire.