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12 Tips for Surviving the St. Louis Renaissance Festival in Style

This year’s festival is happening every weekend from Sept. 18 to Oct. 24, 2021 in Wentzville’s Rotary Park. (That’s SIX weekends of Renaissance fun!)

BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW AND SAVE! Tickets are discounted when you buy them in advance online.

Mitch and I have visited the St. Louis RenFest a number of times and we’ve got some GREAT tips to help you have the MOST fun ever while traveling back to the times of yore.

1. Plain wooden swords whack your best friend as heartily as fancy swords. 

two boys in the woods play with wooden swords at the St. Louis Renaissance festival

It’s not easy adventuring through the Medieval woods of far off Saint Charlesland with two ten-year-old boys in tow. Especially when the very first thing you see are…

Wooden. Swords.

The sword merchant we met had a collection large enough to arm every child at the fest, plus several of grown-ups. He had wooden daggers, full-sized katana and a few Thor worthy hammers.

I convinced Mitch the plain sword was better because he could paint it later and wrap it in duct tape. The boys settled on $12 swords, which were about in the middle of the price range.

Scabbards were extra, so I made the young squires carry their blades in hand the rest of the day. They didn’t mind and defeated every tree and imaginary pirate in the woods.

Fairy dust for sale at the St. Louis Renaissance Festival

2. Bring plenty of Cash, for the webs of Cyberspace doth not Reach into the Woods. 

Ah hem, I was really getting into character there.

You want to bring plenty of cash to the St. Louis Renaissance Festival–some of the vendors are equipped with chip readers, but the cell signal at Rotary Park was pretty weak on our last visit. I tried to buy the kid’s swords with my debit card, but the signal couldn’t get through and I had to use cash.

MOST of the food and drink vendors DO NOT take plastic. (Probably because of the internet issues with taking credit cards.) The coin of the realm is most certainly CASH, and you’ll save yourself a lot of waiting if you plan accordingly.

They only have THREE (portable) ATM machines at the festival. Lines grew insanely long around noon as people find out they need cold hard cash to buy lunch.

fidget spinners from the Ren Fest

3. Food is a Princely Sum at the Renaissance Festival

Food and drink cost what you expect at a festival–expensive, but not as crazy as stadium prices. Soda was around $3 a bottle, beer and wine $5-6 a glass, and funnel cakes were a steal at $4.50. (I’ll update prices next time we visit.)

But know that the food we had was really good and made to order!

4. No Coolers Shall Pass

You can’t bring a cooler–or any food and drink–inside the festival gates. If you’re feeling frugal you can get your hand stamped and walk back to your car for a tailgate picnic.

St. Louis Renaissance Festival

5. Bring Cash for Games and Extras

Your ticket price includes entrance to the festival and all the shows. But like any carnival, expect to shell out for games.

The games are pretty cool–the kids did some knife throwing and a (free) scavenger hunt. Next time I’m planning on some archery!

The year we went there was a petting zoo operated by an animal rescue that only asked for donations. In exchange: you get to hold their more interesting friends!

Mitch wanted to hold Goldie the python–and I had no problem donating to charity for the privilege. They also had some smaller snakes and a kestrel, plus sheep, goats and ponies to pet.

6. Take a Break, see a Free Show

There are lots of little stages where comedy acts, jugglers and singers perform. These shows are included with your admission, so sit down and enjoy a few! It’s also a great way to take a break without missing any of the fun. 

7. Visit with the Mermaids and Unicorn

unicorns at the St. Louis Renaissance festival

Yeah, I know you were hoping unicorns were real right? But they are hilariously fun!

We had a great chat with a pirate outside the mermaid pond, and good chuckle at Magic the Unicorn. Bring your camera, because these places are excellent photo ops. 

8. Bring a Bag of Holding

You’re bound to pick up a few trinkets as you wander the faire, and I was sadly ill equipped. I started searching the merchants for a nice souvenir bag and could only find one place.

Guess what the vendor also sold? Wooden swords.

two boys shopping for swords at the St. Louis Renaissance festival

9. Wear Walking Shoes or Hiking Boots

The St. Louis Renaissance Festival is very popular and draws a big crowd. If you don’t arrive early expect a good walk through an open field converted into a parking lot…then more walking around the festival itself.

The Fest tries it’s darnest to look like a Medieval village in an ancient forest, which means a lot of meandering MULCH paths. Wear a sturdy pair of shoes, not sandals.

And for the love of dragons, no heels.

10. Dress According to your Era of Choice

Visitors to the faire are welcome to wear costumes if they choose.

I have friends who went in “full garb” and had tons of fun. We saw barbarians and fine ladies, a fairy, a few elves and hordes of pirates. If you are the costume sort, remember that prop weapons are ok, but anything metal needs to be peace-tied.

And no firearms of any era.

Remember this is not Disney–not everyone in costume works here. But people put a lot of effort into their costumes, so if you happen to see a really cool princess or knight, they’ll probably be happy to take a selfie with your kid. Just ask nice.

A huge number of merchants sold costume pieces, so if you feel like buying a fancy hat, a bodice or a cool pair of elf ears you won’t be disappointed. There’s also lots of affordable fantasy style jewelry if you want a souvenir you can wear in the real world.  

boy trying on some Renaissance Festival Armor

11. Plan Ahead for Jousting

jousting at the st. louis ren fest

Jousting is the biggest–and most popular–live show at the festival and something you do NOT want to miss. You need to plan ahead and get to the jousting arena at least 20 minutes before the show. Have part of your crew hold down seats while someone makes a beverage run and you’re set!

Jousting in 2020 will be held three times a day, at 12:30am, 2:00pm and 4:00pm.

The jousting show is more than just guys running at each other on horse back. There’s a full interactive story line for the crowd.

When we went, a herald divided the crowd into two groups, one to cheer on each Knight. Favors (ribbons) were handed out to a few women in the audience to give to the knights on cue. 

Each knight showed off their skills with a lance, then took a few runs at each other. Once a knight was unseated from his horse they fought on foot with swords. It was heavily choreographed, but still pretty awesome–and convincing to the kids!

12. Free Tickets for Crafty People

The St. Louis Renaissance Festival holds an annual Fairy House Competition! All ages are invited to enter and each contestant will get two free tickets. Fairy Houses need to be all weather–they’re displayed outside–and are not returned. Fairy Houses are accepted the first three weeks of the fair. See details here.

(Need tips on building a fairy house? Check out our milk carton house!)

Check out the promotions page for info on other offers, like BOGO for military and public service people, student discounts, can food drive discounts and free tickets for blood donors.

Renaissance Festival Ticket Prices

Ticket prices have held steady over the years! You’ll save money (and time) if you buy your tickets online.

Gate prices:
Adult – $19.95
Student/Senior – $16.95
Child (5 – 12) – $12.95

Under 4 are free

Discount Tickets

Plan ahead! Tickets bought online are discounted:
Adults: $16.95
Children (5-12 yrs): $10.95

Friends of the Fest

Les Amis is a VIP package you can get that includes a free t-shirt, snacks, lemonade and access to a private shaded garden.

Parking is Included

Parking is free! It’s in a big field, but it’s free.