Wednesday, August 5, 2015

8 tips for visiting the Bristol Renaissance Faire

Bring sunscreen, water, cash, & imagination

Last weekend, we drove 50 minutes to Kenosha to the village of Bristol for the annual Renaissance Faire. I hadn't been in years, but from what I recall, not much has changed. Still, attending as an adult is inherently different. You're responsible for your own sun screen and it's a lot easier to say "no" when you ask yourself if you can have that expensive floral head wreath that you're never going to wear again. Here are some other tips and tidbits from me to you.

#1 Buy your tickets at Walgreens. You'll save $4 on a $24 ticket. Also, know going into it that parking is $5. The Faire is open from 10:00 to 7:00. Arrive early — it only gets hotter and more crowded.

#2 Sunscreen. Apply in heavy layers and often. This place looks lovely and shady, right? And at times it is! And at other times *cough*JOUST*cough* you're left baking in the sun and dripping sweat. So carry your sunscreen with you. 

Also water. You're not supposed to bring in food or beverages, but I read before going that water is $3/bottle. There are some bubblers, so you can always refill your from-home bottles there. 

#3 Plan your day around side shows you want to see. We came upon shows in progress, and by that time it's standing room only. You also kind of feel like you're late to the party on the inside jokes. So if you want to really enjoy a side show, arrive in time to snag a seat and see it from the beginning. 

#4 Arrive at least 30 minutes early for the joust — at least. We arrived about 30 minutes early and the stands on the shady side of the arena were already packed. So we were stuck sitting in the sun. Cue the melting and burning! Don't get me wrong; the joust is worth your time the beating sun, but it would have been better in the shade. 

#5 Relax and enjoy the people watching. We happened to be at the Faire on Costume Contest day — so there was even more spectacle to be had! Some of it was downright breathtaking — others were breathtaking for a wholly other reasons. And some of it seemed to say "I'm taking my shirt off because it's socially acceptable here." However you look at it, it's some grade A people watching. God I love people.

#6 Let the kids play games — but know that they cost money. And you need to bring cash. There are a couple of ATMs on the grounds, I heard, but better to just come prepared. For a taste of the prices: Adam did knife throwing ($3 for 6 knives), Jacob's ladder ($2 for 3 tries at climbing), and archery ($3 for 6 arrows/$5 for 12 arrows).

#7 Make way for the professionals. This pirate-looking guy sure schooled Adam on Jacob's Ladder — and look! No hands!

#8 Keep a keen eye for photo ops. If you're not careful, you might miss a camouflaged performer, pretty little nook, or Hobbit hole.

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