April, 2017 – Tampa, FL We attended one small renaissance fair many years ago. So when our daughter, Heather, showed an interest in going to one of Florida’s large renaissance fairs we were completely on board. The nearest one was in Tampa. The Bay Area Renaissance Festival has been held each year since 1979.
The event takes place on 7 consecutive weekends and we put off our visit to the very last day, April 2nd. Since the fair is only held on Saturday and Sunday and Heather generally works weekends she finally had to ask for a day off in order for us to attend. She got a Sunday off and I babysit Monday mornings, so we made the 2 ½ hour drive up on a Sunday morning, took in the fair, and drove back Sunday evening.
We arrived just before lunch. I had no idea what to expect and thought maybe the last day of the event would be a bit lame. I was shocked to see the numbers of cars trying to get into the free parking area. They were backed up way down a busy street.
Once we were directed to a parking spot, it was a short walk to the entrance gate. The tickets were around $20 each which I didn’t think was unreasonable. It turned out to be a very good value.
Once inside we headed straight to the main event. There was a jousting match taking place center stage. It was fun to watch but it was incredibly hot with all available shade already occupied. I didn’t even think to get any pictures. We watched about 10 minutes before seeking a reprieve from the sun.
Most of the rest of the grounds had ample shade and it was a pleasant day to wander the 100 plus merchants booths. We ogled all sorts of odd merchandise you just don’t see every day; chains, leather goods, corsets. There were also lots of beautiful artistic pieces from glass, metal, paper, about anything you can think of. It was hard but we all refrained from making any purchases.
The actors wandering the grounds were one of the best parts. Hands down this guy was our favorite.
There were plenty of scarier characters as well, such as the Pewter Pirate.
This big fellow was magnificent and his handler was beautiful as well.
I loved these guys and was somewhat disappointed I didn’t make it to their bird show.
It was hard to find your way around and the map they gave you was pretty useless. We finally quit trying to figure it out and just wandered and enjoyed what we came across. There are 12 stages so there were a lot of entertainment options. These musicians were a lot of fun.
The Harmless Danger Juggling Show was even better.
He did finally let go of the wall and ride the unicycle quite well.
We really enjoyed the festival and would definitely like to attend another large fair like this one in the future. We learned a few things from the experience. I think we’d enjoy the next one even more.
This particular fair was incredibly dusty. Everyone’s feet were covered with soot. So I wouldn’t recommend flip flops, or in my case, a pair of brand new sneakers.
They didn’t search our bags as we expected so we would take a half dozen bottles of water and some snacks next time. I also wouldn’t forget sunscreen again. And I’d make sure everyone in the party had sunglasses.
It would have been nice to stay nearby so we didn’t spend the day dreading the drive home. I’d love to find one that would allow us to camp in the parking lot. A few adult beverage might have made the experience even better.