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The Best (and Worst) of the Colorado Renaissance Festival with Kids

A Knight at the Colorado Renaissance Fest

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If you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly event to attend this summer, the Colorado Renaissance Festival is a great option. With hundreds of costumed performers and artisans, there’s something for everyone at this festive celebration of 16th century life. Just be sure to come prepared, as there are a few things that could make or break your day at the festival.


The renaissance festival was begun in 1975 as a small, tear-down event in Morrison, Colorado with just 60 artisan booths. After two years, the grounds moved to Castle Rock before finally settling in its current location of Larkspur. It was founded by a man named Jim Paradise. His son, Jim Paradise Jr. is the current director of the fair and has worked hard to make it the success that it is today. The renaissance festival is a great opportunity for visitors to see how people lived during the renaissance period and to learn about the arts and crafts of that time. There are also plenty of activities for kids, including games, rides, and shows.

Since we’ve started taking our kids to the Colorado Renaissance Festival (when the youngest was under a year old), we’ve learned a lot about what to expect and how to make the most of our experience. Despite the occasional frustrations, we continue to go back every year.

The Good

  1. There really is something for everyone at the festival. Whether your kids are into knights and princesses, pirates or fairies, you’ll find it here.
  2. The performers are top-notch and really bring the 16th century to life. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you watch the jousting matches, listen to the music, and browse the arts and crafts.
  3. There are plenty of food options, including turkey legs, roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, and more. And if you need a break from all the turkey legs, there’s also an abundance of beer available for purchase.
  4. There is a children’s area available with some free activities. This is a great place to take a break from the crowds and let your kids run around and burn off some energy.

The Bad

  1. The lines. Oh, the lines. Unless you come early or are willing to stand in line for a while, be prepared to miss out on some of the food options and activities. This is especially true if you have kids with you, as they may not have the patience to wait in line for long periods of time.
  2. The cost. Tickets are not cheap, and if you want to do any of the rides or activities, you’ll have to shell out even more money. It’s worth it if you’re planning to spend the day at the festival, but be aware that it can add up quickly. Getting your kiddos’ face painted, food for a family of four, a couple beers, and an activity or two can quickly exceed $150.
  3. The parking. Unless you get there early, be prepared to park far away and walk. This isn’t a huge deal if it’s a nice day, but if it’s hot or raining, it can definitely put a damper on your day.
  4. The crowds. With so many people in one place, it can be difficult to move around, especially if you have small children with you. If you’re claustrophobic or don’t like large crowds, this may not be the event for you.

The Ugly

Activities and attractions for kids at the festival

Jousting matches

The jousting matches at the Colorado Renaissance Festival are definitely a must-see. The riders are skilled and the horses are beautiful, and the matches are exciting to watch. If your kids are into knights and princesses, they’ll love it.

Arts and crafts

There are plenty of arts and crafts to browse at the festival, from pottery and woodworking to jewelry and glass blowing. If your kids are into arts and crafts, they’ll enjoy watching the artisans at work and maybe even finding something to take home with them.

Musicians and performers

At the Colorado Renaissance Festival, you may witness a wide range of acts. Musicians, dancers, and actors are among the performers. Some of the jokes may not be suitable for youngsters, so keep that in mind when you’re there with your family.

Face painting

Facepainting is a popular activity for kids at the Colorado Renaissance Festival. The designs are usually based on characters or themes from the renaissance period, and they’re applied with a lot of flair and personality. Kids always love getting their faces painted, and it’s a great way to add some extra fun to your day at the festival. Be prepared, however: the cheapest designs are $15 and some go as high as $50.

Pony rides

The pony rides at the Colorado Renaissance Festival are a lot of fun for kids. They can saddle up and take a ride around the festival grounds, and they’re bound to have a good time. Pony rides cost $8 as of 2022, and they’re a great way to keep kids entertained for a while.

Petting zoo

The petting zoo at the Colorado Renaissance Festival is always a hit with kids. They can pet and feed a variety of animals, from sheep and goats to llamas and camels. It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about different animals and get up close and personal with them. The petting zoo is free to visit, so it’s a great option if you’re on a tight budget. If you want to feed the animals, feed is available for $4.

Food options for families

The food options at the Colorado Renaissance Festival are varied and plentiful. There’s something for everyone, from pizza and hot dogs to roasted potatoes and turkey legs. And if you’re looking for a sweet snack, there’s plenty of candy and fudge to choose from.

The issue with the food at the festival is that everything is a la carte, and lines can get terribly long. Plan on standing in a separate line for meat, sides, alcoholic beverages and soda. And be prepared to spend a pretty penny on food – a single entree can cost upwards of $10. The lines are also not marked, and queues are non-existent. Make sure you ask what line you are in – a family in front of us waiting 20 minutes in the corn line hoping for a turkey leg.

How to save money while attending the festival

If you want to save money while attending the Colorado Renaissance Festival, there are a few things you can do. First, take advantage of the early bird special and buy your tickets online before the festival starts. You’ll save $3 per ticket, and you won’t have to worry about sold-out days.

Costume ideas for kids

If your kids want to dress up for the Colorado Renaissance Festival, there are a few things you can do to make sure they’re comfortable and safe. First, make sure their costumes are made of breathable materials like cotton or linen. Avoid synthetic fabrics like polyester, which can cause overheating. Second, make sure their costumes are loose-fitting and not constricting. You don’t want them to be uncomfortable or unable to move freely. Third, make sure their shoes are comfortable and easy to walk in. They’ll be doing a lot of walking, so they need shoes that won’t give them blisters. Finally, make sure their costumes are safe. Avoid long skirts that could trip them, and make sure they can see well out of any helmets or masks.

A note about theme weeks

You might notice as you look at the schedule that there are themed weekends at the festival. These are largely inconsequential as far as we can tell. Yes, some folks dress up in costume, but the performances change very little. We attended in Pirate Weekend, and saw a handful of pirate costumes. Very little else changed. Take our word for it: don’t pick a weekend based on the theme. You will be disappointed.


Two to three seems to be the magical age to start bringing kids, but it was a bit much for our younger kiddos. If you’re looking for a fun family outing, the Colorado Renaissance Festival is definitely worth checking out. Just be prepared for crowds, long lines, and spending a bit of money. And if you have small children, don’t forget to bring along some snacks and activities to keep them entertained.

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