Ever since moving to the Lake County area seven years ago, the Bristol Renaissance Faire has been on our must-do list. This past weekend, thanks to some free tickets I won in a giveaway, my family and I finally made the short trek up to Bristol. We weren’t sure what to expect or how our kids would respond to the festivities since they are still pretty little (almost 3 and 17 months). I’m happy to announce that we were all very pleasantly surprised by our experience at the Renaissance Faire!
Coming from Volo we were able to take local roads to Bristol and avoid the highway. The Faire was easy to find and parking was convenient, quick, and inexpensive at $5 a car. The parking lot was a grassy area but there were gravel paths leading to the entrance, so it was doable with our stroller and my oldest son walked with my husband. Entering the Faire was also no problem since we already had our tickets. We literally just walked right up to the gate, handed over our tickets and walked right in! I didn’t see too much of a line for people purchasing tickets, either, though the Faire was bustling.
We were immediately overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds, but in a good way. My boys were on sensory overload with all the costumes, characters, musicians, rides, shops, and activities. We probably could have just stood there and watched everything but we decided to go exploring. My husband and I were immediately surprised at how big the place was, we had no idea! There were lots of people but since the Faire was so large and spread out it only felt crowded by the main cluster of food stands and eating areas.
There were a variety of stores and shops for those looking to purchase a souvenir from their Renaissance Faire experience. One of my favorite features was all the little performance areas throughout the grounds where you might find a singing group, comedy routine, historical re-enactment, or other entertainment going on.
We passed a few areas that had activities you could participate in for an additional fee like a large pirate ship for kids to explore and a stand that offered sand pits where you could dig for buried treasure. There were also activities like climbing walls and giant bouncing apparatus for a small fee, but luckily our boys were too little to do most of these things and were content to watch everyone else from the sidelines.
As we got towards the back of the Faire grounds we stumbled upon the jousting area and were pleased to see the Joust had just started. Even though we didn’t opt for seats in the stadium, we were able to see plenty just standing outside the arena and this way we were able to leave when our boys started getting antsy.
We found a large cluster of booths with food for sale offering everything from chicken and vegetable tempura to curly fries, to giant pickles on a stick. We brought plenty of snacks from home because my son has a peanut allergy, and even though it says on the website and entrance that outside food and drinks are not permitted, no one said anything to us. We probably saved a bunch of money this way, too.
Overall, we had a great experience at the Bristol Renaissance Faire and it was definitely worth the trip! I can see how this would have been a pricey event if I hadn’t received the free admission tickets and we’d purchased food at the Faire, but if you’re only going once a summer, I think the benefits of the experience are worth the cost.
Discount tickets to the Bristol Renaissance Faire can be purchased in advance at most Walgreen’sstores and I have also seen coupons in many publications like the Sunday Chicago Tribune and Lake County Magazine. The Faire will be open the remainder of the summer through Labor Day, weekends only.