6 Tips for Going to the Arizona Renaissance Festival
February 4, 2019
I’ve attended the festival every year since 2010 and a few years I had the season pass. After going so often, I learned some things about the festival, how to save money, and when the best times to go are. Since the festival starts this week, I wanted to share what I know so if anyone goes, they can enjoy it as well. I’ve attended the Arizona Renaissance Festival only, so I cannot say if these tips will help others while attending other festivals, but I hope they will give some ideas to make going to a festival less stressful.
Tip One: Arrive Early or Arrive Very Late
Since the gates open at 10AM precisely, 9 AM to 11 AM is a very popular time to arrive to the festival, so if you want to avoid a lot of traffic, you will need to get to the festival before 9 AM. If you want to arrive later, arrive after 11 AM. Traffic does vary depending on the day and what’s going on in the festival, so these times do vary, but I like to arrive before 9 AM and wait until the gates open.
Tip Two: Leave Early or Very Late
Just like with my first tip, if you want to beat the crowds leaving the festival, leave no later than an hour and half before the festival ends or when the festival officially ends. The reason for this is because the last joust of the day is the most popular joust to attend. It always starts at 5 PM and ends at 5:30. Although the festival officially ends at 6 PM, festival goers normally end immediately after the joust ends, causing a huge traffic jam. In order to avoid this, leave no later than 4:30 PM or, if you want to watch the joust, leave at 6 PM when the festival officially closes for the day.
Tip Three: Turkey Legs are a Cheep Meal
Eating at the festival can be expensive, but a secret is to buy and eat a turkey leg. The turkey legs at the festival are big and can last more than one meal. If you are at the festival with a group and do not mind sharing your turkey leg, one leg can feed two to four people, depending on everyone’s appetite and love of turkey legs. An added bonus to eating a turkey leg is they have a deal for two legs. Some of the festival’s food vendors offer deals for two food items for a price cheaper than what they would cost to buy them separately. So, if you are in a group, or just want to pick up a second turkey leg on your way out of the festival to eat for dinner, it’s a great investment.
Although I always suggest turkey legs as a meal to anyone going to the festival, it, this tip is not suitable for vegetarians, vegans, as well as anyone with allergies or just dislikes turkey. If you fall into this category, please remember that there are other eating options at the festival that could fit into you diet and some of them do have deals for two food items as well.
Tip Four: You’ll Always Find What You’re Looking for… if You’re Willing to Walk
I love the Arizona Renaissance Festival, but there is one thing I don’t like about the festival: The map.
It’s a super cute cartoon of the festival’s layout, but to be honest it’s not great at guiding you to the stage or food area you want to go to. If you’re new to the festival and unfamiliar with the layout of it’s buildings, I suggest walking from the front gate with the buildings are to you right or left. The festival’s layout is actually a circle, so by keeping all the buildings to one side of you, you’ll eventually find where you need to go. Just plan ahead if you want to get somewhere by a certain time.
Tip Five: Costume Contests are Fun to Watch… or Participate in!
I need to admit, this last tip may be based off the fact one of my hobbies is costuming, but if you ever want to show off a costume that you made and wore to the festival and win prizes, enter one of the festival’s costume contests. They are free to enter and are open to anyone of any skill level. Although the contest is open to anyone attending the festival, the contest are based off the festival’s weekly theme, which does change weekly and contest criteria sometimes changes depending on the day. For an example, one year, during pirate’s theme week, the festival had a costume contest on Saturday for children and one for adults on Sunday. Check the festival’s website for more information and times about the contests.
If you do not dress up and just want to watch something different at the festival, I would suggest the costume contests. They are fun to watch and are always different from week to week because they are based off the weekly theme.
Tip Six: The Festival, Not the Vendors, is Cash Only. Come Prepared.
And the final tip I have to offer when attending the Arizona Renaissance Festival is they accept cash only. No matter if you buy food or play a game at the festival, you will need to use cash to buy anything. You can use a card when purchasing tickets or purchasing from the marketplace vendors (Always ask if they take cards before you commit to buying anything), but besides that you will need to use cash. There are ATM machines all around the festival if you need them, but for peace of mind and sticking to a budget, bring cash with you.
Well, that’s all I have to share! I hope this helped anyone who wants to go to the Arizona Renaissance Festival for the first time or is looking for ideas for going to a festival near them!
Thank you for reading!
Title photo taken by me at the Arizona Renaissance Festival, 2018. You can see all the photos I took at the 2018 Arizona Renaissance Festival on my art, photography, and craft blog essieofwho.com here.