In the spirit of experiencing more fun in our own backyard, we decided it was a great time to partake in one of our favorite local festivals. Our family enjoys a fun festival experience, especially ones that make us laugh. The Minnesota Renaissance Festival fits the bill perfectly! Set in a quaint village-like atmosphere in Shakopee, a southwestern suburb of Minneapolis, this late summer festival is a hit for our whole family.
There are way more than five reasons to attend the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, but I thought I’d break them down into the big highlights for you.
Thanks to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for sponsoring our visit. All opinions are our own.
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The Minnesota Renaissance Festival – Know Before You Go
Information about the Minnesota Renaissance Festival can be found on their website. A few pointers based on our experience:
- Driving there: Pay special attention to the directions for driving to the festival. There is often road construction in that area, so it is important to look on the website for clear directions. The festival does offer a free shuttle service from Mystic Lake Casino, which might be a really smart option for people who don’t want to deal with finding it.
- Parking: The festival draws thousands of visitors every weekend to their grounds, so the parking area (in a grassy field near an old gravel quarry) is pretty massive. It is also a fairly healthy walk to the gates of the event, including a portion that has some small but steep hills. The night before we visited it had rained heavily, so the walk in the grass and on the gravel roads was quite muddy. Again, if you’re not a fan of this set up or are concerned about the long walk, the shuttle from the casino mentioned above might be your best bet.
- Shoes: As I just mentioned, it was very muddy around the festival the day we were there. There were a lot of standing mud puddles both on the walk to the gates and within the festival grounds. In other years I have been there when it was more like a dust bowl, blowing dust everywhere. For both of these reasons I recommend you wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. I was very glad I reminded my kids to wear their old tennis shoes, rather than flip flops or their new school shoes.
- Time of day: We recommend heading out first thing in the morning in order to enjoy less crowding and, depending on the weather, a cooler, shady experience.
And now to the five reasons why you should attend the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.
Reason #1: The Shows and Activities
Each day of the festival the program is loaded with different types of performances. Some involve feats of danger involving fire or sharp objects. All involve humor.
The most famous headliner at the festival is Puke and Snot. I saw them many years ago, but they are not exactly rated G. Our family took in the Kamikaze Fireflies for their show this year. The performers showed their skills using, among other things, fire and blow darts.
We also watched a bit of Oops the Danger Freak. After hammering a large nail up his sinus cavity we ended up leaving, but not without being in awe (and a little freaked out).
In a prior visit we watched, and really enjoyed The Danger Committee. They worked a lot with knives, and our son got to pull the plunger off of a bald performer’s head.
In addition to the shows on stage are a whole host of other fun activities you can watch, like the jousting. There are also plenty of experiences to be had, like horse riding, fencing, ax throwing (our family’s activity of choice), and Vegetable Justice, where you get to throw tomatoes at a jester who yells insults at you.
There was even a zip line! A very short zip line, which we didn’t try, but a zip line nonetheless. 🙂
Reason #2 The Food and Drinks
You have a food craving? It’s probably here. I’m not a Renaissance era guru by any means, but I’m guessing there is some food there reminiscent of the era. There is also a whole host of more modern day options, like pretzels that are larger than your head. We had cheesecake, cheese curds, cinnamon rolls, and the aforementioned pretzel.
For those that like to imbibe during their festivals, there were plenty of alcohol options as well (including mead, which I believe is of the Renaissance era).
Reason #3: The Shopping
One of the coolest things to do at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival is to check out the artisans that show off their wares. There are often Renaissance-era items, like chain maille. There are also plenty of Renaissance-themed items as well. We loved poking through the shops to see the artisans at work.
Reason #4: The People (and Animal) Watching
Obviously any workers and volunteers at the Renaissance Festival are in full costume. We didn’t happen to don any Renaissance-era garb, but plenty of attendees do. It was so much fun to see how “into it” people get with their costumes at the Renaissance Festival. You can tell that many people wait all year to do this. You can read my post about whether or not you should wear a costume to the festival.
Another fun fact about the Minnesota Renaissance Festival? It’s dog friendly! Even the pooches there often don a costume.
And, of course, so do the lizards.
Reason #5: The Laughs
A major reason why we love the Minnesota Renaissance Festival is that, much like the culture of the times, people engaged in bawdy humor. As I mentioned above, you hear some of this during the shows. But even the staff and volunteers at the event run with it. It’s so much fun! They even make light of fun things like the huge puddles of standing water left after a major rain.
The Minnesota Renaissance Festivals is open on weekends from mid-August through the end of September. Make sure you don’t miss it!
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