Get your nerd on for cheap
Cheaper entry fee: Ok, yeah, tickets are $19.95 to get in at the door. Kinda steep. So go to Super America or Walgreens and buy presale tickets for $16.95. That’s three dollars off, right there. Do you have a kickass costume? You can take a risk and enter the early morning costume contest to see if you can get in for free (bring friends to cheer you on; prizes are awarded based on cheer volume). Also, parking is always bountiful and free, but it’s best to get there in the morning before traffic gets scary.
Free entertainment: Isn’t watching theater people eat turkey legs entertaining enough? No? Well how about taking in free shows featuring jousting performances, juggling demonstrations, log tossing (during Scottish weekend), belly dancing, and that guy that sets fire to a rope 5 feet off the ground and walks on it? There’s 15 free stages throughout the grounds, so something has to be happening that peaks your interest.
Free booze: Check their online schedule, but some days feature free beer tastings, brew competitions, and wine tastings.
Free food: Enter one of the eating contests, which include pie, mashed potatoes, and spaghetti.
Free lessons: Learn how to juggle, smoke from a hookah, belly dance, cook, or play lacrosse.
Cheap/Free Shopping: You may be tempted to buy one of those $300 Viking helmets made out of real fur and horn. But do you really need it? Probably not. There are still souvenirs you can take home for $5-$10. For example, the two main pottery barns have mugs, goblets, and bowls for around $5–$8. Those little pottery devil horns will usually set you back about $10 as well. Did you buy one of those glitter necklaces last year? They’ll refill your bottle for free.
For a complete schedule and list of activities, check out the Renaissance Festival website.