Ren Festival Cosplay

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florida Ren-Fest

Conventions GeekMom
Ren Festival Princess Singing Show Dakster Sullivan
Ren Festival Princess Singing Show Image: Dakster Sullivan

The Florida Renaissance Festival is having its seven-week run in Deerfield Beach, Florida. And this year I treated my son to his first renaissance festival experience. After two days of fun, we put together our top 10 reasons you should make the trip past Mickey Mouse and down to the coast.

1.) They open with a freaking canon – Every day the festival is opened with a royal greeting and the firing off of a real canon. It’s small in size, but large enough to hurt if you don’t cover your ears.

2.) Fencing, where their motto is “No argument is too small to be solved by sharp objects.” – If you have ever wanted to face off in a fencing match, now’s your chance. Parents, if you let your child do this, you get the extra bonus of banging them on the head with the ends of the swords. This shows you and your child how well protected they are in the fencing gear. Cost: $5 per patron to fight another patron or $6 to face a master.

3.) More children’s activities than you can shake a stick at – From archery to a giant rocking horse, zip-lining, and rope climbing, there are a ton of activities for all ages to participate in. On average they range from $3 to $10 an activity. My son’s favorite was Merlin’s Magic Bubbles. For $10 you get to take a walk on the wet side and venture out onto the lake in your own private bubble. The average walkabout lasts 10 minutes, but you could go for as long as 15 minutes.

4.) Falcons, Catapults, Pirate Ships, and more – There are about as many places to learn as there are vendors to shop at. Unfortunately, the falcons and catapults are near the Iris and Rose show, so keep the kiddos away while that is going on. Those ladies get more adult than some adults can handle.

Ren Festival Musicians  Image: Dakster Sullivan
Ren Festival Musicians Image: Dakster Sullivan

5.) Music and Magicians abound – There is more than one area for you to sit and enjoy the talented minstrels and some have dancing to go with it. They also have wandering minstrels and I loved hearing the various performers walking around with their instruments.

Ren Faire Food Dakster Sullivan
Chocolate dipped bacon, fried ice cream, and fried Oreos. Image: Dakster Sullivan

6.) Food! – While it may not be period-accurate, my family enjoyed fried Oreos, fried ice cream, and chocolate-dipped bacon. My son decided on a healthier lunch of a pretzel that he bought from a vendor carting them around on a giant stick. The food is fairly priced with snow cones and pretzels costing $5 each and bottled beverages at $3 each. The average adult-sized lunch was around $8.

Ren Festival Cosplay Dakster Sullivan
My woodland elf cosplay and my fellow ren faire enthusiasts. Image: Dakster Sullivan

7.) Cosplay – The wide variety of cosplay went from a couple of Stormtroopers to Deadpool to period-accurate attendees. I designed my own woodland elf costume for this event and loved walking around it it. If you don’t have a costume, you can easily come in street clothes and purchase various pieces from the many clothing makers.

Ren Festival Chess Dakster Sullivan
Chess, anyone? Image: Dakster Sullivan

8.) Chess, anyone? – My son recently discovered his love of chess and, thanks to a giant chess board, he was able to play a time or two while there. Don’t worry if you don’t know a pawn from a knight, because there are volunteers who do standing by ready to play (and a chess master to play against if you dare).

9.) Tomato Torture – For a few dollars, you can throw tomatoes at a loud mouth with bad insults. My son hit him right on the head–it was stuck on his hat. Unfortunately, the target also caught a tomato and threw it back at my son (thankfully, his aim was as bad as his jokes and he missed). $5 for 5 throws.

10.) Earn those patches! – For the scout in your family, they can earn a patch by completing a list of activities. A few of the activities are required, but some have alternative options for the scout to choose from. Depending on your party size, some of your troop may even get in for free. For more information, check out the scout program section on the festival’s page.

Honorable Mentions:

Ren Festival Princess Singing Show Dakster Sullivan
Princess “Snow,” Princess “Ella,” and Princess “Triana” entertained a packed crowd at each performance. / Image: Dakster Sullivan

Shows – My son doesn’t have the attention span to sit through many of the shows but I was able to catch a few minutes of the singing princesses and the tail end of the flea circus. Both were entertaining enough that each had a packed house. For the adults, I’ve heard the Iris and Rose show is a real hoot but it’s very much 17 and up only.

Shopping! – There’s a wide variety of craftsmanship represented at this fair. Far more than any other event I attend. My favorite spot was Woodsong Instruments, where I purchased a Lakota Love Flute handmade from bamboo. I tied it to my elf belt and it went great with my outfit when I wasn’t playing it.

For the little ones in their own carriages, strollers are easy to maneuver on a dry day. And when it’s time to use the bathroom, you won’t see porta-potties. Instead, the festival brings in bathroom “trailers” that are manned by a cleaning crew at all times.

The festival runs through March 27th. One day tickets start at $9 for children 6 – 11 and $21 for ages 12 and up. For more information, including showtimes and themed weekends, hit up the festival page.

Disclaimer: GeekMom was given comp tickets for the purpose of this review.

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