The Bristol Renaissance Faire is an annual event held in Kenosha County, in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. It is held in a theme park that runs along the border between Wisconsin and Illinois and makes up around thirty acres of land. The history of the city dates back to its original settlers from England, explaining the rich and vibrant history that can still be enjoyed through the Renaissance Faire today!
This unforgettable experience is home to delicious food, great attractions, fascinating history, must-see performances, and hundreds of fun activities. If you have always wanted to join the Renaissance Faire, but don’t know where to even begin planning your Faire weekends, this article is for you!
Keep reading to discover excellent tips and everything you need to know about the Bristol Renaissance Faire.
Bristol Renaissance Faire
What is it?
Considered the best fair of its kind in the U.S., the Bristol Renaissance Faire takes place every summer. It is held at a venue just a few minutes south of Pleasant Prairie and commemorates the day the town was visited by Queen Elizabeth in the late 1500s.
Visitors to the Bristol Renaissance Faire can expect amazing old-timey attractions like belly dancers, puppeteers, acrobats, daredevils, comedy acts, magicians, live music performances, games, artisan vendors, great food, beer, and much more! The fair is a great place to get away from the stress of everyday life and enjoy a carefree atmosphere with fun for the whole family.
Dates and Times
Usually held from early July to early September, the Renaissance Faire is open Saturdays and Sundays, as well as on Labor Day Monday, from ten AM to seven PM.
Before you visit the Faire, there are some things you need to do in order to prepare for the event and ensure that you make the most of your time there.
Check the Schedule
Because each year’s Faire comes with different vendors and entertainment, and because they change over the course of the season, it is a great idea to familiarize yourself with the schedule before you visit. Every Wednesday evening, the entertainment stage posts schedules for the upcoming weekend.
You can also take a peek at the latest map to plan your visit. Hard copies of these maps are handed out free of charge at the front gate as you enter the Faire.
Keep in mind that every year comes with special themed weekends, such as a Pirate Weekend, Steampunk Weekend, Marketplace Weekend, or RennCon. Whether you visit during a themed weekend or a regular fair weekend is up to you.
Book Tickets Online
If you don’t want to wait in long queues at the Box Office, you can book your tickets online. This gives you more time to join in the fun! The ticket price typically changes from year to year, but you can expect to pay around:
- Thirty USD per Adult
- Fifteen USD per Child (Between five and twelve years)
- Free Admission for Children of four or younger
- Twenty-Eight USD per Senior (Sixty-Two years and up)
- Twenty-Eight USD per Military member
- Two Hundred USD for a Season Pass
- One Hundred USD to access the VIP Garden
You may be able to buy tickets at a discounted rate or win tickets through social media. So, be sure to keep an eye open for any deals or promotions.
One of the best parts of visiting Bristol’s Renaissance Fair is the Elizabethan vocabulary used throughout the park. It can be fun to understand the staff and entertainers, and even more fun to talk back! Here’s a quick guide on some of the most common terms heard at the Faire, and their meanings:
- Huzzah (Hooray)
- Aye (Yes)
- Nay (No)
- Prithee (Please)
- Art (Are)
- Thou/Thee (You)
- Gramercy/ I thank thee (Thank You)
- Good Morrow (Good Morning or Good Day)
- Fare Thee Well (Goodbye)
- See You Anon (See You Later)
- I be parched (I am thirsty)
- Privy (Restroom)
- Wench (A particular type of woman, typically the object of affection for many men. Nuns, Queens, and princesses are not called wenches)
Moreover, here are some of the correct ways to address people:
- Your Majesty / Your Grace (King or Queen)
- Your Highness (Prince, Princess, or other members of Royalty)
- My Lord / My Lady (Nobility or People from a good family)
- Sir (Knights, especially during jousting)
- Master / Mistress (Children and Common Folk)
Hydration is vital when you’ll be walking around all day and sweating underneath thick layers of costume. It is recommended to start hydrating with electrolyte drinks a few days before even visiting Bristol. It is also important to take enough fresh water and electrolyte drinks with you each day you spend at the Ren. Faire.
Located between Chicago and Milwaukee in Kenosha County, southeastern Wisconsin, there are a few different ways to get to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. The Faire continues come rain or shine, so don’t be discouraged if your Faire day turns rainy. Wet days can be some of the most fun, as there will be fewer people.
The best way to make the trip to the Faire is by car. It is easy to get there, but unless you arrive early in the day, you may find yourself stuck in traffic or without a parking space. Arriving early also helps you to skip long lines. It is recommended to carpool, as the fee for parking is charged per vehicle.
Here are some approximate driving times from nearby places:
- Madison – Two and a Half Hours
- Green Bay – Two Hours and Twenty Minutes
- Rockford – One and a Half Hours
- Chicago – Fifty Minutes
- Milwaukee – Thirty Minutes
- Pleasant Prairie – Five Minutes
As there are no public transportation options available, visitors without their own car can make use of ride-sharing apps like Lyft or Uber to reach the Faire’s festival grounds. Alternatively, if you’re staying in a hotel, there may also be free shuttle services you can make use of.
Ren. Faire Address: 12550 120th Ave., Kenosha, WI 53142
Generally of thumb, the earlier you arrive at the Faire, the better. The same can be said for parking, and arriving early means stopping closer to the entrance. If you plan to park on the Faire grounds, there are a variety of options to choose from.
Parking prices are as follows:
- Free Parking (Far North side of the grounds, includes a bit of a walk)
- General Parking – Five USD (Cash Only, Limited spaces available)
- Preferred Parking – Ten USD (Cash Only)
- VIP Parking – Twenty USD (Pass purchased online in advance)
Where to Stay
If you’re visiting from out of town, you can book accommodation at one of the many guesthouses, inns, or hotels in Pleasant Prairie. Most of them are located just off the highway, within walking distance from the Bristol Renaissance Faire.
There are some hotels dedicated to housing Faire guests, which offer special packages that include tickets and free shuttles to and from the event. Some of the official Bristol Renaissance Faire hotels include Fairfield by Marriott and DoubleTree by Hilton.
If this is your first time at the Faire, it may be difficult to know what to pack. For that reason, we have compiled a list of Faire essentials.
Cash is important at the Renaissance Faire, as most merchants and food vendors only accept cash. There are some larger drink and food vendors that accept credit cards, but the process can be slower. There are ATMs at the Faire where visitors can draw money, but they often run out during the day and there can be long lines. It is a good idea to make sure you bring enough cash with you in advance.
Empty Water bottle
Hydration is very important for any event where you will be on your feet for prolonged periods. It’s easier to bring your own water bottle to fill up at the water fountains than to buy several drinks throughout the day or have to stop each time you get thirsty. A hydro flask or something that can fit ice is ideal, as it keeps your water cool and fresh. You can get ice at the Faire, from BlackFriar’s Tavern.
Sunscreen and Bug Spray
The Renaissance Faire is set among several trees, which is perfect for much-needed shady spots during the day. However, the abundance of plant life can attract mosquitoes and other bugs. There’s nothing worse than being itchy all day! We recommend investing in a good bug-repellant.
As with any other Renaissance fair, even if there are many spots to sit and relax in the shade, you’ll still be walking in the sun between attractions. Be sure to pack sunscreen and apply it throughout the day.
Unlike some festivals, the Faire does not provide lockers to store items. You will need a comfortable bag that is big enough to carry all your necessities, as well as any souvenirs you pick up while wandering the village. We recommend a big backpack, but some Faire-goers opt for a more authentic wagon!
If you plan to shop a lot, you may opt for getting VIP parking. It would mean you can store your items in your car all day, without fear of theft.
Portable Phone Charger
Spending all day at an event with a spotty signal can drain a phone battery very quickly. It’s a good idea to pack a portable charger or power bank so that you don’t have to worry about a dead phone in case of an emergency, or before taking a memorable picture!
It’s not mandatory to dress in Renaissance garb when attending the Faire, but it can make the experience a lot more fun! The Faire also doesn’t limit attendees to historic fashion, which means that attendees can be everything from pirates and elves to furries or other cosplays!
Whether you opt for regular street clothes or a full Renaissance costume, be sure to wear something you know will be comfortable. You will spend most of your time walking around, so whatever you decide to wear needs to be breathable, cool, and flexible- especially in the summer. Also, keep in mind that other Faire-goers may want to take pictures with you if you’re dressed in costume.
Along with sunscreen, it is always good to have a hat or some kind of sun protection for your head. Many people forget about their exposed scalps and end up getting sunburned on their heads.
It is equally important to wear comfortable footwear. The terrain can be uneven and dusty. Donning the wrong shoes can lead to painful blisters and sore feet for days after the event, so invest in some good walking shoes. We also recommend adding thick insoles for extra comfort and foot protection.
Part of the appeal of the Bristol Renaissance Faire is the immersive experience created by live acts and shows. Visitors can wander through the village, hearing poems recited out loud, being offered roses by a charming nobleman, or see a real jousting tournament between knights!
Each day at the Faire includes top-tier entertainment options, so be sure to get there early so you can secure a good seat. Some of the most popular shows and performances include:
Sturdy Beggars Mud Show
Also referred to as The Mud Show, this is an iconic experience that no first-timer should miss. Keep in mind that this show may not be suitable for young children, as it is rated PG-13 and includes some slapstick adult humor.
This is the perfect blend of astonishing acrobatic feats and comedy, making for an unforgettable show that shouldn’t be missed.
MooNie the Magnif’cent
This is another great comedy show if you’re in the mood for a giggle and includes some slack rope tricks and classic clown shenanigans that will leave you breathless with laughter. It is also a great show if you can only fit one day at the Faire into your schedule.
Dirk and Guido: The Swordsmen
Come see Dirk and Guido recklessly endanger their lives for the sake of comedy and entertainment. The show includes excellent sword fighting and hilarious jokes.
Besides watching fun shows, the Bristol Renaissance Faire offers many other activities that visitors can enjoy.
Be sure to get to the stands early so you can watch an exciting jousting competition between noble Knights of the Queen’s court on their majestic steeds. There are also various historical demonstrations and art classes to be enjoyed, such as glassblowing, blacksmithing, and leatherworking. Visitors can even throw axes!
If you have little ones, you can stop by the Hobbit House or Kid’s Kingdom. For guests with older kids and teens, there are Harry Potter-themed escape rooms.
And, if you’re in the mood to get rid of some frustration, why not go to Vegetable Justice and throw tomatoes at the rude insulter?
Whether you’re in the mood for a sweet treat like chocolate-covered key lime pie, or a hearty old-timey meal like a whole turkey leg, there’s something for everyone at the Renaissance Faire. There’s a wide range of dining options, and some of the fan favorites include Cheese Fritters, Garlic Mushrooms, Pickle on a Stick, Sassafras, and Vegetable Tempura.
And, if you have special dietary needs, you’ll be happy to hear that the fair has vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Keep in mind that, apart from water, visitors are not allowed to bring food or drinks from outside the Faire.
There are over a hundred artisans and makers at the Bristol Renaissance Faire every year, selling unique handicrafts and wares. Visitors can shop for handmade jewelry, stained glass creations, leather items, and homemade candles. Many frequent visitors of the Ren. Faire buy all their historical garb at the Faire itself, to be worn the next year. Some of the most popular vendors include:
- Grichels – for leather goods that have faces
- Alter Egos Bazaar – for unique clothing items
- Broomhilde – for wands, staffs, and brooms
- Stef’s Strange Brews – for teacups with adorable little beasts inside
- Dragon Tear Pearls – for handpicked pearls
- La Gazza Pazza – for handmade historic clothing
Bristol Ren. Faire FAQs
Why is it not spelled Bristol Renaissance “Fair”?
While both spellings of the word is correct, “faire” is a more old-fashioned spelling, which suites the historical theme of the Renaissance Faire perfectly.