If your family is a fan of theater, costumes, and drama, then consider a trip to the New Jersey Renaissance Faire, which celebrates its 13th season this spring. Held in Bordentown, New Jersey, on the shores of the scenic Liberty Lake, it’s about a 30-minute drive from Philadelphia.
Each season has a theme, and 2022 was dubbed the Return of Robinhood, who has come to help his nephew, Will Scarlet, an accused murderer. While the storyline sounds deep, what ensued was a day of comedy, tricks, and excitement as we watched the story unfold through action-packed live shows, including a human chess match, comedic fighting, dueling, and even a joust.
Read on for more details on our visit to New Jersey Renaissance Faire and tips for planning your visit to the show, which runs weekends through Sunday, June 5.
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Many people arrived in costumes at the New Jersey Renaissance Faire—mostly medieval dress—though some costumes were quite involved, like fairies and even a wolf costume. My personal favorite was an elaborate, walking tree, which was fantastic to watch. Our daughter was disappointed she didn’t wear her princess costume, which sadly I didn’t think of in advance, so consider pulling out the dress-up clothes once you’ve booked your tickets!
Highlights of the New Jersey Renaissance Faire
The festival is held on a 60-acre campus surrounding Liberty Lake. We were there on a hot day and shade was limited, so plan accordingly with sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water.
We saw several shows throughout the day, on six different stages around the campus. Going from one end of the park to the other, even with a tired, hot 3-year-old in tow, only took about 15 minutes. Depending on what shows you want to see, you could cross the park several times during your visit, so wear comfortable shoes.
We were told the Duke’s Court in the morning is important to set the stage for the rest of the day, however, I knew my 3-year-old and 5-month-old wouldn’t make it through an eight-hour day. We arrived at 1pm just in time to catch Connor O’Carraig the Leprechaun Magician. My 6-year-old son was really excited by this show, although I was turned off by the fact the performer talked about tipping for a good five minutes.
Young Lords and Ladies get one-on-one instruction in sword fighting—plus a special amulet souvenir.
Then, we watched the Human Chess Match, and my son and husband were riveted by the drama and fighting with both swords and fists. We also caught Swords and Stories, which was probably the highlight of the day for my kids. I was nervous when they handed every child on stage a wooden sword, but this was well done with about seven knights teaching the “lords and ladies” how to sword fight one at a time. At the end, the children were knighted and given an amulet that my kids are still wearing and talking about.
The other highlight was the Adamo Ignis Fire and Danger show, which was quite exciting for all of us. Adamo Ignis did not disappoint while she danced with fire, breathed fire, and climbed on top of sword blades. Her musings during the show were humorous as well.
Visitors get close to the action during the Big Joust, which wraps up a fun day at the New Jersey Renaissance Faire.
We saw a bit of the dog show, Aim High Canines, and my son was inspired to teach our old dog some new tricks. The last show we watched was the Big Joust in the evening right before the end. The two horsemen first show off their impressive riding skills, then they joust. Each side cheers for their knight as the two horses gallop toward each other with the riders holding long wooden sticks meant to unseat the other. When one was finally knocked off, the other dismounted as well to finish the battle with a dramatic sword fight.
My Lady and Lord were quite proud of their amulets—earned in their sword fighting class.
Food and Activities to enjoy at the New Jersey Renaissance Faire
While walking back and forth across the park for the varying shows, we passed kiosks selling flower hair pieces, wooden shields, trinkets, art, and spices among other things. There were also lots of activities the kids could do for an added fee, such as games, pedal boats, and petting a steer. Most activities we saw cost $5, which can add up quickly with multiple kids, so keep this in mind and set expectations before your visit.
Kids get a kick out of the pirate-themed playground, but there’s no place for parents to rest while they play.
Other than the shows, there were some things kids could do that were included in the entrance price. There was a giant pirate ship playground at the center of the campus that our kids really enjoyed. While there was a water spigot there to cool off or fill your water bottle, there was no shade for us to hide under while our children played.
The kid-focused Nippers Nook left me feeling underwhelmed. There was a big climbing net our kids scaled, and a craft tent my son wanted to sit in, but all I saw inside were pipe cleaners. From the pictures online I thought there would be pony rides, but there weren’t.
Near the backward bridge by Aerial Point and Swain Field, there was a small, fenced-in arena where faire performers challenged festival-goers to sword fights, and my children enjoyed sitting on the fence and watching them battle.
The website says outside food is prohibited at the faire; however, no one checked our bag. I had imagined turkey legs and potatoes, but we saw typical food you would expect to find at a street fair, including kid-pleasers like french fries, ice cream, water ice, kettle corn, and lemonade. There is a large, covered picnic area by the bathrooms and food tents.
Adult Fun at the NJ Renaissance Faire
While we focused our visit on the kid-friendly attractions at the New Jersey Renaissance Faire, there were also many other shows we missed that included comedy, alchemy, combat, and music. There are even activities just for adults, such as a whiskey tasting (additional cost) and an adults-only comedy show.
Parking at the New Jersey Renaissance Faire
Parking is free unless you pay for the VIP spots, which puts you much closer to the entrance. You could be stuck parking quite far away from the entrance, so be prepared for that. When we showed up at 1pm there was no parking left except VIP, however, they did not make us pay for it since there weren’t any spots in the regular lot.
Know Before You Go to the New Jersey Renaissance Faire
- The fair runs on weekends from 10am-6pm, rain or shine.
- Ticket prices vary depending on what type of ticket you want. Visit the website for ticket info. There was a long line that we were able to skip by using will call instead of electronic tickets.
- View the schedule, map, and plan out what shows you want to see in advance.
- There was not a lot of shade on-site, so bring sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and plenty of water. I would suggest arriving at the shows 5-10 minutes early to get good seats in the shade.
- Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk.
- There is a paved path that runs almost completely around the campus, however, there were times when we had to “off-road” it with our stroller on the grass to get to certain stages and activities.
- There are both port-a-potties and permanent bathrooms. The line could be long for the bathrooms, but the port-a-potty had almost no line. I did not see a changing table in the bathroom.
- Dogs are welcome, but you must show proof of vaccination and purchase a dog ticket for $10.
Photos by the author