Travel: New York Renaissance Faire 2015

Yesterday, I made a snap decision at 11AM that we should attend the New York Renaissance Faire. Normally, I’d plan this sort of thing ahead, but the weather was beautiful, we hadn’t gone in a couple of years, and it had been in the back of my mind for a couple of weeks now, anyway, so off we went!

The New York Renaissance FaireDriving down Route 87 in New York, you’d probably whiz on past Tuxedo without blinking. This quiet community of about 3600 people in the Southern part of the state isn’t normally a draw for visitors. But in August and September, every year since 1977, crowds flock to this small town, eager to transport themselves back to a time of queens and fairies, pirates and kings, and mugs of beer to accompany their turkey legs. That’s because Tuxedo, New York, is home to the New York Renaissance Faire.

The New York Renaissance Faire

The New York Renaissance Faire, adjacent to Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center in Tuxedo, NY, features over 125 performances on 20 stages, with over 100 craftspeople set on 65 acres of fields and forest.

Actors spend 2 months preparing for their roles, expertly setting a scene from many centuries ago in which you can completely immerse yourself. It’s quite magical.

The New York Renaissance FaireThis weekend was our third trip to the NY Ren Faire: my first was when my brother was only 11 or 12 years old. My husband (then-boyfriend) and I brought him on the 2-hour trek to Tuxedo not knowing what to expect. At 26, he still talks about that trip! My kids are now hooked, as well. It’s a fantastic family outing.

The New York Renaissance FaireIt’s best to arrive early. Free parking fills up fast and if you end up in the auxiliary lot (like we did this time), it’s a long walk to the entrance. There are shuttles, but it’s still a haul to the stop. There is preferred parking available right at the entrance for $10.

#nyrf #nyrenfaire #huzzah #wherefantasyrules

A photo posted by Carrie Vibert (@poetinthepantry) on

Costumes are not required, but, being the Drama Club geek that I am, I find they enhance the experience. It’s not too often you can run off somewhere to be someone else entirely. My son agrees wholeheartedly. He was angry that I wore my heart-shaped sunglasses (I gave them up to his cargo pockets, the little hypocrite that he is) and brought my camera, as they ruined the authenticity of my attire. Yup. He’s my kid. New York Renaissance FaireYou can purchase pieces to build your own costume from the many merchants scattered throughout the property. All of them are quite willing to assist in fashioning you in whichever era suits you best. My bodice? I bought that at the first NY Ren Faire I attended, 14-15 years ago, and it’s still going strong! Don’t want to invest in one of your own? There are costume rentals available on site and they’re fairly reasonable, with children’s costumes ranging $8-$25 and adults’ costumes being $18-$65. The most important thing? That you’re comfortable for a day full of fun–because you’ll want to allow yourself a full day to see it all! The New York Renaissance FaireBuy your tickets online to save yourself from waiting in line. Or, if you made a last-minute choice to visit the village, like us, you can sign up for the NY Ren Faire’s email list to receive coupons, and you only need to show the image on your phone to knock a couple bucks off your entrance fee.

  Stuff #newyork #nyrenfaire #nyrf #huzzah #wherefantasyrules   A photo posted by Carrie Vibert (@poetinthepantry) on

Walk in and find yourself in a small hamlet in Europe, sometime in the 16th Century. A shop on your right boasts their “stuff” for sale. You can try your hand at removing the sword from the stone–are you the true king? Maybe your kids have been brats–lock them in the pillory! Shops line the street, luring you in to the center to investigate further. Bad kids go in the pillory - The New York Renaissance FaireI suggest perusing the stage schedule before your adventure. While you will happen upon a multitude of exciting and interesting performances around each corner, you can plan your day better armed with this information. I highly recommend the jousting and if you stick around after, the kids can pet the horses. There are 2 pub crawls a day (for an additional fee), as well as wine tastings (also an additional fee). My kids especially enjoyed watching the May pole dance this year, something we haven’t stopped for before. {click on the image below to watch a short video of this demonstration}

#nyrf #nyrenfaire #huzzah #wherefantasyrules A video posted by Carrie Vibert (@poetinthepantry) on

Studying the map will also help. Usually, I print it out and bring it along, but, seeing as this was an impulse trip, we went without. Which resulted in the serendipitous discovery of Heathen Hearth Gathering, behind Queen’s Glade. There, a Viking encampment was spread out, and we were invited to play 2 rounds of kubb, a Viking lawn game. Our host made us feel most welcome, despite the good-natured taunting. (Mental note: must locate a version of this to play at home…)

Our host taunts us during a game of kubb, a Viking lawn game - The New York Renaissance FaireIn addition to the regular performances, each weekend is themed. We attended during time travelers weekend, which found us in the midst of characters from throughout time and space (and fantasy)!

The New York Renaissance FaireSeptember 12-13 will be pirates weekend–I wish I could return! My next costume most definitely will be piratical. Be sure to check out The Dread Crew of Oddwood while you’re there–they’re a folk-metal mix of pirates spreading their merriment throughout the park.

The Dread Crew of Oddwood performs at The New York Renaissance Faire
The Dread Crew of Oddwood performs at The New York Renaissance Faire

Food is plentiful at the NY Renaissance Faire, and meets a variety of dietary needs. It’s a little surprising what you will encounter, when you approach the event thinking that it’ll be like your typical county fair. Hummus, falafel, baba ganoush, and schwarma are offered alongside typical favorites, like baked potatoes, steak on a stake, fried mac and cheese, and cheese fries. The full menu can be found on their website. Please note that no outside food or drink is allowed. I broke my rule I made many moons ago and drank a glass of mead. It did not disappoint (and I survived the transgression, unscathed!). Make sure you bring your ID if you want to be served alcohol.

It isn't a Renaissance faire without the mead! - The New York Renaissance FaireWhile many of the merchants accept credit cards, the food and drink booths are strictly cash only. Luckily, there is an ATM on site, if you left your paper money at home (or spent it all, which is easy enough to do).

The New York Renaissance Faire is a magical escapeLeaving at the end of the day, the light dwindling, the crowds carrying us out in their wave of mass exodus, I was left with a feeling of disappointment. Did I really have to return to the real world? Couldn’t I escape for a little while longer? I hadn’t yet had my fill of mead and bawdy ballads. I didn’t get to watch the Chess Board game or see Robin Hood wed Maid Marion. We arrived too late. Which leads me to believe that this will not be my last Renaissance Faire visit this year… it has become an addiction. And while some flock to the county fairs for their fill, I will continue to call the Ren faire my home away from home. We all need to escape, once in a while.

The New York Renaissance Faire

Have you attended a Renaissance Faire before? What did you think of it?

The New York Renaissance Faire

New York Renaissance Faire
600 Route 17A, NY 10987
(845) 351-5171

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