Disclosure: Thanks to Bristol Renaissance Faire for the press comps so we could review on of our favorite summer regional destinations yet again. As always, all opinions, photos and memories are our own, but we're happy to share.
Check out our full set of photos in the slide show here and our "best of" shots embedded below and at the bottom of this feature.
It was our pleasure to bring my Mother in Law along this time, for her first foray into Merry Olde England. She had a great time too!
We've been going to Ren Faire for decades, so it's rare we get to take or even run into anyone that's never been. Saturday, however, we ran into a gymnastics team family that was on their first visit, AND a work acquaintance of my husband's who starred in the TV Series, Paranormal Cops! He was also there for the first time. What are the odds?
Pets From The Midsummer Knight's Dream: These ubiquitous critters have been around since the dark ages & we finally broke down and bought one for the first time. Sage had been rocking the Pirate Catapult for years, multiple times a season, while her brother took a pass after the first few tries. He took all that saved up Ren Credit and talked us into a new pet. He even let his little sis name him, & borrow him for a while. Meet Dugan's familiar, a mohawked mythical "mouse" creature named Nasura.
(Best living statue EVER!! Note to people. TIP well. This is cool and a LOT of hard work. Note to parents of young kids. Do NOT stand by and do nothing while your offspring poke, pull and torment the living statue (key word being LIVING). HELLO!! We saw this and it was not cool. Seriously people. If your kid(s) do this before you notice, stop them ASAP then see note 1. TIP well & apologize.)
Lego Ren Faire Village (Complete with a hidden Ninja hunt challenge)
Jousting--This is a long time favorite of ours, but they've redesigned the show and added quite a bit since the last time we saw it a couple of years ago. Give it a go. Especially if you are a Ren Faire newbie, the knights, horses, pounding hoofs, and clashing sword and lance play are fun to see.
The Swordsmen- Ren Faire royalty! Their wacky humor and stellar stage combat is something to see. They perform multiple times a day so there's no excuse not to see them... at least once.
Barely Balanced- These crazy limber lunatics who go by the names Small, Medium & Large are huge favorites of ours. Didja know Small and Medium are getting married?! For reals. In about a month. So that chemistry you see on stage isn't faked. They also perform multiple times a day with different themes, but we're partial to the FIRE SHOW.
(LOADS more Barely Balanced shots at the bottom of this feature.)
Gypsy Geoff- This gypsy recovered from knee surgery and is back with a vengeance. He's got mad balancing skills and some creative crutch acts he perfected during his recovery, and a new spot on the big stage near the food court, so you can indulge and enjoy.
Adam Crack- Back to his old can exploding, whip crackin', balloon poppin' tricks. This Guinness Book of World Records multi record holder is a must see and his schtick and style never gets old.
Barrel Ride- We do dig the low tech, people powered ride fun.
Voyage to the New World- Get old school and travel to the New World. All ages can rock the boat with this fun ride.
Fairy Area- The fairies have long been a delight, but this year the Faire moved the little fairy village to the grove where the big fairies hang out.
Mile High Chocolate Crepes & Waffle Cones- A picture's worth a thousand words. Need we say more?! Yum!! We've been waiting all year for this. The Swordsmen turned us on to this tasty treat years ago when my husband did the audio on a 2 day shoot on location for their DVD. He worked on his birthday & Dirk and Guido surprised him with a birthday song and a Mile High Chocolate Crepe to celebrate. They're great guys and put on a pretty stellar sword fight too!
Gemini Glass- Support the arts and go home with some awesome decor! Yep. The performers at Ren Faire are NOT the only performers at Ren Faire. Some Chicago Theatre peeps are acting as shop keeps! Show 'em some love... and some of the Queen's gold for their cool wares. There are quite a few great shops, but Gemini Glass is one of our favorite theatre peeps' places here at ChiIL Mama.
ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Tips:
*Bring Cash: Much of Merry Olde England is cash only, and ye olde cash station does exist near the front gate, but the lines tend to be long. Some of the merchants take plastic but plan ahead and bring bills
*Bathroom 411: There are a few in the lot by the gate if you drove in a ways and just can't wait, but they tend to have lines. Closest inside the front gate are straight ahead and to your left. The only flush toilets are near the food court straight back from the action stage.
Got kids? The kids area has it's own family portalets & they tend to have short lines if any. There is also a bathroom near the Pirate Catapult that tends to have shorter lines.
*Web Fun: No. Not that web... Though you can follow most of the performers on line and find out about upcoming them weekends, special deals and more on THAT web. We're talking about bringing something special for the fairy web. Nature based trinkets are the best but not mandatory.
*Food Deals: Make a pass past the food court at closing time. Often there are smokin' deals on perishables.
These women know how to accessorize!
Kids Are Special at Ren Faire--and they get their own cool area with a ship to climb on, staged shows all day, and creatively named, kid friendly food.