The Renaissance Faire

Archived Q&A and Reviews

June 2011

After reading several kid-mysteries set at Medieval/Shakespeare/Renaissance faires, my 9 year old is eager to see one. I grew up attending the SoCal Ren faire in Agoura and know its NoCal counterpart used to be held in Novato, but that faire seems to be currently unoperational. So...where do people go, especially with kids? Hip, hip, huzzah!

This website has a good directory:

Northern CA Renaissance Faire moved from Novato to Vacaville by the Nut Tree. Then that shut down, it was revived in Marin for another year or two, and it seems to have found a relatively permanent home in Casa de Fruita near Hollister. September 17 thru October 16, 2011, 10 am - 6 pm

More locally, and less likely to be hot and miserable: Northern CA Pirate Faire, Vallejo, Father's Day Weekend This is wild, fun, windy, and has cannons. If you go, be sure your son takes a fencing lesson from the Cardiff Rose Fencing Academy, and tell them Alana sent you.

Fair Oaks Tudor Faire in June is a nice, relatively small fair under actual fair oaks. ... once a pirate, always a pirate

The faire that used to be in Novato is now in Hollister at Casa de Fruta. It runs in September and October. This year, kids 12 and under will be free. Here's their website: Lucy
The Northern CA Renaissance Faire is now held in Hollister at Casa de Fruta. It's going to run on the weekends from Sept 17th to Oct 16th this year. You can check out their website at If you purchase tickets in advance of the start of the Faire or join their mailing list, I believe you can get a discount. You can check out their website for further details. Faire lover
It is still going strong. We go every year with our kids and other assorted friends & relatives - it's always in Sept-Oct. Just google it - you'll find it. For the past 6-8 years it's been at Casa de Fruita near Gilroy, which is a longer drive from here than when it was in Marin, takes maybe 1.5 hours to get there? Last year, we drove down a day early with another family and stayed in a hotel with a pool near Gilroy, as a sort of two-day mini vacation. That way we could get up the next morning and have only a short drive to the fair. It was fun and we'll probably do that again this year. It can get hot in the afternoon, so I recommend getting there when it opens, when it's cooler. On the other hand, I wouldn't say it is significantly hotter than Novato - that place was a scorcher, even with the trees! Last year the weather was very pleasant, and a couple years ago it actually rained, so you never can tell. There are a lot of pumpkin farms nearby too. I wouldn't say it is exactly historical, since costumes and props seems to span the centuries from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance with a sprinkling of Victorian, if you count Steam Punk as Victorian. OTOH it might be fun with a history buff to identify which aspects actually are from the Renaissance period! By the way if you end up going year after year like we do, and you want to invest in a costume, and you are a woman who wants to be something other than the omnipresent 'barmaid/wench' or 'slutty gypsy', check out this website: There, you can buy wench and gypsy, yes, but they also have a variety of attractive machine-washable gowns and things. They have a good selection of kids' costumes too. Have fun! RenFaire Habitue
We love the Renaissance Fairs. Its true that the Novato one has shut down, but new ones have opened up in their place. The biggest Northern California Ren Fair is the one close to Gilroy now- at Casa de Fruta. They open in the fall this year around September and run for 2 months. There are other fun weekend only Renaissance Fairs all around that happen throughout the year. A few that we have been to that are fun are the following:
- Northern California Pirate Festival - June 18th/19th in Vallejo (father's day weekend!) Love this one!
- Valhalla Renaissance Faire - in South Lake Tahoe (this weekend is the last- June 11/12) Beautiful location.
- Ardenwood Shakespeare Festival and Ren Faire- September, Fremont. Local and small.

I've never been to the San Jose Ren Faire one, but that runs in a weekend in August. Also, not sure if you are interested, but there is a Dicken's Fair every year in San Francisco Cow Palace during December- not Renaissance but the same type fun with costumes and lots of activities. We love that its indoors and has 'real' restrooms. Not as big or crazy as the Ren fairs, but that has its positive aspects too! rebecca

May 2001

Anyone been to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire with kids since it moved to Vacaville? Our daugher is almost 8, and very much into castles, knights, pages and horses these days. We were thinking of taking her to the faire when it opens Aug. 25, and would like advice from parents who have gone in recent years. Did you find it worth the drive, money and heat? Janet

I absolutely loved the Rennaisance Faire as a child, so when my kids starting showing an interest in knights, etc. we went. As an adult, it seemed so much more silly and affected than I had remembered it, but my kids LOVED it. My son dressed as a knight and his friend as a princess, both in cheesy costuming. All the elaborately clad folks at the faire, acknowledged them with perfect seriousness, bowing to them and calling them Sir Knight and My Lady. They were swooning with pleasure (and a bit of heatstroke). So by all means, go! But bring lots and lots of water, and consider going later in the season. (We went in late September or early October.) Elizabeth

This is a cool day outing for families with older kids. I'm not sure how under-fives would do, since it gets crowded and there is a lot of walking, looking, & watching. My kids, 11 and 13, went with friends last year and couldn't wait to go back this year. It is a huge fair where all the performers, shop keepers, and food sellers dress up in Renaissance-ish clothes. They all talk in Olde English accents, such as Aye, and wood ye like ketchep on that, laddie? Most of the fair-goers arrive in costume as well. I never saw so many bosoms bursting out of laced bodices in my life. (I admit it, I bought myself one for next year.) You will probably want to at least get a dried flower garland with ribbons or a cloth muffin hat (about $15). We saw Queen Elizabeth, and folk dancing, and knights on horseback jousting, and criminals in stocks. Puritans jeered at our naked legs and we lost a few dollars in the sideshow games. It was fun.

The Renaissance Fair is a 45-min drive from the East Bay. It's in Novato in Marin County. It's open weekends only during September and October from about 10am till 6 or so. It's pricey - $17 for adults and $14 for kids, but we got two-for-one coupons in the pink pages of the Sunday paper. It was definitely worth it, though be warned that part of the attraction is all the shops, so make sure your kid has some savings or agree on a ceiling ahead of time. My 11-yr-old spent birthday money on a cotton pirate shirt and knickers, $40 total, and both boys bought wooden swords for $6. There are many other things for sale like full suits of armor and velvet hats with ostrich plumes. The food is in the $5-$10 range and tasty. We ate huge turkey drumsticks and beef ribs for $5-6. Cold milk is a popular drink and there is beer, wine, and mead for grownups.