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  • Maddie LaBerge

Turkey Legs, Sunscreen, and Cash Only: A Guide to Conquering the Arizona Renaissance Festival

Hear ye, hear ye! The Arizona Renaissance Festival is an annual event that takes place in the city of Gold Canyon, Arizona, and is a celebration of the Renaissance era. The festival is a popular event for families, couples, and groups of friends who enjoy immersing themselves in the history, music, and entertainment of the Renaissance era. If you plan on attending the Arizona Renaissance Festival, here is a comprehensive guide to help you make the most of your experience.


Tips for a Successful Visit to the Arizona Renaissance Festival

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your visit to the Arizona Renaissance Festival:

  • Arrive early to avoid crowds and lines.

  • Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers.

  • Bring cash with you, as most vendors are cash only.

  • Try the turkey leg – it's a festival staple.

  • Wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day.

  • Plan your visit around the entertainment schedule, available on the Arizona Renaissance Festival website, to make sure you don't miss any shows.

  • Take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge.

Two tickets to the Arizona Renaissance Festival will cost just under $70.
Two tickets to the Arizona Renaissance Festival will cost just under $70.

Getting There

The Arizona Renaissance Festival is a decent drive if you're coming from the Valley. We drove for a little over 45 minutes, before turning off of the highway to 12601 E US Highway 60, Gold Canyon, AZ 85118. There is plenty of free parking available on site, which was a game changer. We had to wait in a line as parking attendants directed cars to park row after row. If you prefer to avoid driving, you can also take a ride-sharing service to the festival, though the price for a 45-minute Uber or Lyft might just be exorbitant.


Luckily for us, we went the first weekend of April and the wildflowers are going through a SUPERBLOOM! Bold, dazzling shades of pinks, oranges, purples and yellows dotted the vast fields surrounding the highway. This made the long drive a tad bit more bearable.

Driving to the Arizona Renaissance Festival provided a front-row seat to the superbloom of wildflowers throughout the desert in April 2023.
Driving to the Arizona Renaissance Festival provided a front-row seat to the superbloom of wildflowers throughout the desert in April 2023.

Dress Code

One of the most fun aspects of attending the Arizona Renaissance Festival is dressing up in Renaissance-era costumes. The options are limitless, you could be a peasant, royalty, fairy, storybook character, dragon, or other magical being. However, if you don't have a costume, don't worry. Casual attire is also acceptable and the most common. The festival takes place outdoors, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers, as the weather can be unpredictable. Either way, be sure to wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day to protect your skin from the sun. I had applied sunscreen to my face, but not my shoulders and chest, where I did end up getting a sunburn.

My boyfriend, Max, posing so I can take a photo of the "my favorite evil villain is my wife" shirt.
My boyfriend, Max, posing so I can take a photo of the "my favorite villain is my wife" shirt.

Food and Drink

Walking around the Arizona Renaissance Festival, many people carried the same accessory in their hands, the heralded turkey leg. "Ye olde turkey leggs" are a staple of the festival and can be found at several food vendors throughout the festival grounds. Be prepared to wait in line for one, as they are one of the most popular food items at the festival. In addition to turkey legs, you can also find a variety of other food options, including fish and chips, sausages, and pizza.


Max enjoying his $12 Ye Olde Turkey Legg in the Queen's Kitchen.
Max enjoying his $12 Ye Olde Turkey Legg.

If you plan on drinking alcohol at the festival, be sure to bring a valid ID with you. There are several beer, wine, mead and cocktail outlets located throughout the festival grounds, where you can enjoy a variety of options. You can also purchase non-alcoholic drinks like $3 Pepsi products and $2 bottles of water.


Venues

Most venues at the Arizona Renaissance Festival are cash only. This means that you should bring cash with you if you plan on purchasing food or drinks, or if you plan on purchasing items from vendors. There are several ATMs located throughout the festival grounds, but be prepared to wait in a short line if you need to use one. We saw eight as we walked around and they are all located by the food lines and entrances.


Entertainment

The Arizona Renaissance Festival is known for its wide variety of entertainment options. There are several stages located throughout the festival grounds, where you can enjoy live music, comedy shows, and jousting tournaments. There are also several interactive shows, where you can participate in demonstrations of blacksmithing, glassblowing, and other Renaissance-era crafts.

In addition to the stage shows, there are also several stationary and roaming performers throughout the festival grounds. These performers are dressed in costume and interact with visitors throughout the day. Be sure to keep an eye out for them, as they are a lot of fun to watch. I saw a one-man circus, mermaid, and walking tree man, among the crowds of princesses, fairies and elves.


Shopping

If you enjoy shopping, you'll love the Arizona Renaissance Festival. There are several vendors located throughout the festival grounds, selling everything from handmade jewelry to Renaissance-era clothing. Be prepared to haggle with vendors, as many of them are willing to negotiate on prices.

Anyone up for some squire attire at the Arizona Renaissance Festival?
Anyone up for some squire attire?

If you're looking for something fun to do on a spring weekend with great weather, the Renaissance Fair is a great location. Be prepared to spend some cash, spend the day in the sun and take tons of photos. Huzzah!

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