Ready to step back in time to a 16th-century English village?
The Ohio Renaissance Festival is one of the best things about fall in Ohio. The festival is a day in the life of a 16th-century English villager, including full-armored jousting, Renaissance musicians, dancers, comedians, jugglers, sword-fighters, storytellers and hundreds of costumed performers entertain patrons.
Is it perfectly historically accurate? Absolutely not. Is it one of the best things you’ll ever do in Ohio? Without a doubt.
In general, walking around the Ohio Renaissance Festival is a good time. But with the addition of their new 5-acre addition, the Whimsy Woods, there’s so much more space to roam. If you’re hoping to get out of the sun and into the shade, this is the area to head, as there are plenty of big old trees and rolling green hills to relax on.
There are artisans, vendors, tons to eat and drink, and plenty of opportunities to feel like you’re really a part of this village.
The Ohio Renaissance Festival is located in Warren County. It’s only about an hour drive from Columbus and as one of the largest renaissance festivals in the country, it can get a little crowded.
You should definitely plan to arrive a little early, as the line to get in can get long. Plus, you’ll definitely want a full day of exploration. If you’d like to save a little money by packing a lunch, you can, but it will need to be left in your car.
To leave the park and head back to your vehicle, be sure to grab a hand stamp at the gate so you can come back in after lunch.
Wondering how exactly you’ll spend your whole day? We’ve got some suggestions.
Eat a turkey leg
There is, perhaps, no more iconic item of food available at the Renaissance festival than a giant turkey leg. Pro tip: grab yours before the joust begins, because afterward, the line will be very, very long.
Go on a medieval pub crawl
When your whole party has made it through the front gates, kick things off by visiting the various drinking establishments around the village. You don’t have to take my advice on the pub crawl order, but I can’t recommend ending the night at the Fool’s Tavern enough. It’s a swell atmosphere and you’ll 100% feel like a character in a movie.
Practice your archery skills
If you’ve ever wondered if you’ve got what it takes to join Robin Hood’s merry men, head to the games area and try a little archery. The instructors are helpful and they stay in character the whole time, which just adds to the experience.
Watch an actual joust
Okay so I mentioned the joust before, but we didn’t go into detail. This isn’t some choreographed pretend joust. This is real people on real horses, charging at each other with actual lances. You can pay a little extra to sit with the queen, but I personally enjoyed slumming it with my fellow commoners.
Heckle Queen Elizabeth
Okay so full disclosure, I don’t actually know what would happen if you heckle the queen. But she does walk through the park with her massive entourage throughout the festival, so it wouldn’t be hard to find out!
Climb to the top of the 25-foot Castle Tower
If archery isn’t your thing, maybe scaling a tower is! You can definitely give it a shot on the 25-foot castle tower climb. Or if like me you feel a little spooked by heights, you can cheer on any of your brave companions from the safety of the ground.
Drink things out of a horn
There are lots of vendors selling lots of things, but if you only buy one thing at the festival, let it be a hollowed-out horn. You can buy them for drinking or blowing, or a combo of both, and there’s just something about drinking beer out of one of these things that elevates the whole Renaissance festival experience.
Enjoy some live music
There is live music everywhere throughout the village. Just follow the sounds of bagpipes or drums and see where they take you.
Do a little shopping
One thing I definitely wasn’t prepared for on my first visit was just how much money I would want to spend. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re going on a budget you can have a fantastic time pretty cheaply. But if you’ve got some cash burning a hole in your satchel, you will be pleasantly surprised. From armor and cloaks to weapons and jewelry, you can find so many amazing souvenirs at the various vendors throughout the village.
Warm up with a spiced mead
The festival is open through late October, which can definitely get a little chilly. I’m convinced that there is no better way to warm yourself up than by partaking in a cup (or two) of spiced mead. Truly, you’ll feel warm and fuzzy almost immediately.
To start planning your trip, please visit www.renfestival.com.