Minnesota Renaissance Festival: How to journey back in time for cheap
|Renaissance Festival openings|
Ladies of the Renaissance Festival
This weekend marks the start of the always-awesome Minnesota State Renaissance Festival. Here you'll find old-school sports demonstrations, belly dancing, turkey legs the size of your head, and some of the coolest artisans around, selling everything from tiny pots of glitter to real battle axes.
As the summer months come to an end, some of us may be finding our budgets a little tighter than we would like. This doesn't mean you have to forgo Ren Fest. In fact, once you pay for admission there are tons of free (or almost free) things happening on the grounds at any give moment, including theater and music performances, food and alcohol tastings, kids' crafts, and more. While this list is only a mere sampling of some of the free things to do, it should give you a solid jumping off point on how to enjoy event without putting a major dent in your pocket.
Ye olde admission tickets:
If you plan your day right, admission is the most expensive part of the festival. Tickets are $21.95 for grownups ($12.95 for kids) at the gate, which admittedly isn't too bad (hey, that's less than most big concerts!). However, if you buy them beforehand you save a few bucks. You can get $18.95 tickets ($10.50 for kids) at Walgreens, Whole Foods, Super America, and Menards. Or simply go online and print them out from the event's website for the same deal. Subway, Dunn Bros., and Papa Murphy's also have Ren Fest coupons at their stores.
|Plenty of parking for carriages, motorcycles, dragons, horses, and Honda Civics|
Shakopee is not a town with a lot of road options, so between folks heading to the fest and Valley Fair things can get backed up very quickly. Carpooling is ideal, getting their really early is even better. However, once you get to the site parking is plentiful and free.
If you're really feeling lucky put on your best Renaissance getup, bring a crowd to cheer you on, and sign up before the gates open for the costume contest. Whoever gets the loudest cheers from the crowd gets in for free. Looking for ideas? Check out our tips here. Also, kids seem to win this contest more often than adults, so you might want to enter the little ones instead. Every day at 9 a.m.
Other contests offered on the grounds for prizes daily:
- Pirate costume contest (at the Pavilion at 3 p.m.)
- Children's costume contest (3 p.m. in the children's realm)
The Royal Joust: Suspense is the major draw of this free event. Get there early to nab a spot on the bench. There will be pageantry, test runs, and arrival announcements as their royals take their seats before the armored knights sprint towards each other with sharp sticks. Thankfully, this isn't Game of Thrones, so the changes of major incidents are low (and family friendly!). Shows are at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m.
Parade: Vendors, performers, and other groups walk this parade daily, so take a look, cheer them on, and be entertained as folks march through the grounds every day at 11:30 a.m.
Free wand making: The Children's Museum hosts this free craft activity daily in the Children's Realm area. There's also free knighting, storytelling, and other fun activities for kids in this area.
Ye olde barn and zoo: Meet lizards, snacks, elephants, camels, goats, and other animals for free.
- Mac's and the Folkstone Pub are excellent places to stop for a beer and listen to some traditional Irish music.
- Puke and Snot are on the Legend Stage throughout each day
- Tuey, the guy who does balancing tricks on a loose-rope is a popular performer. Why? He's a dude juggling on a rope! Oh, and his grand finale involves setting the rope on fire. He's at the Grove Stage, pretty much on the hour.
- All stage shows are free, but folks work hard at the festival to entertain so if you have a dollar or two to spare, tips are always awesome.
Free food and booze!
Free BBQ tastings August 25-26.
Highland games: Watch feats of strength like log and heavy sack throwing throughout the day September 8-9.
Alice the Cook will be giving lectures and demonstrations on historical cooking from the era covering topics like smoking, spices, and pickling.
Wine, Chocolate, and Romance weekend (September 15-16) has tons of free stuff to do, including:
- Free wine and chocolate samples: Sign up early to get a buzz and share some sweets with your sweetheart.
- Free vow renewals: Get married... again!
- There will be free Sutter Home wine tastings. This usually entails generous sample pours of 5-6 different types of wines with sassy commentary from a costumed rep.
Shamrocks & Shenanigans Weekend (September 29-30):
- Guinness beer/Jeremiah Weed tastings: Is Guinness still delicious? Is sweet-tea-flavored vodka yummy? Stop by and find out.
- Ladies and gents who like manly legs will want to be sure to check out the kilt competition. Will competitors be fierce on the catwalk?
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival runs through September 30. For more information, visit the official site at www.renaissancefest.com.
IF YOU GO:
Minnesota Renaissance Festival
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; also Monday, September 3 and Friday, September 28
12364 Chestnut Blvd., Shakopee; 952.445.7361
Visit www.renaissancefest.com for more info
Through September 30