My husband and I have wanted to attend our state’s Renaissance Festival since our dating years. Each year it came and we either forgot about it or for various reasons were unable to go.
Several months ago, I discovered that the Carolina Renaissance Festival had three special weekday Student Days designed to focus on the educational aspects of the festival and the time period it represents and to eliminate some of the more unsavory portions(language, mead, etc) that are part of the regular weekend attraction.
This sounded like a great opportunity for us to go as a family and finally get to take a step into the 16th century! We packed up our car (it was a little bit of a drive for us) and headed out to have a great day.
We were not disappointed!
It was quite crowded when we arrived, which was to be expected when schools and homeschoolers from all across the state were filing in to enjoy the festival as well. From the first moment my children laid eyes on the entrance, they were mesmerized. The excitement just oozed out of them. Gabby was positively dying to see a real, live fairy and Aron couldn’t wait to see the jousting. Once we stepped through the gates, the world transformed into a European village from the past.
We visited a falconry show first. The seats were full, so we stood at the back. It was amazing to watch the bird fly around and return. In case you are unfamiliar with it, falconry was the art of using a trained bird of prey to hunt for wild game. During this show, the falconer showed us how the bird would fly and catch food that he tossed and various other retrieval tricks. The beauty of live shows is that even if they are scripted, sometimes unexpected things happen. During one flight, the falcon, ahem, relieved itself mere inches from where the falconer stood. One of the job hazards, eh?
One of the big events that we wanted to see was when the Royals held court and the jousting tournament. Unfortunately we were unable to obtain a seat for those shows because of the large crowds, but we were able to watch from a distance. Gabby was enthralled with the Queen’s gown. Aron kept exclaiming whenever a knight was thrown from a horse. We believe that next year, we’ll have to get to the arena approximately 30 minutes or so before the show starts so we can see a closer viewing of the show.
There were games and activities spread throughout the festival. Each ranged in cost starting from $2 per person and up. This became costly for our family of 6, so we only chose a few to try out. My husband was only the second person that day to ring the bell at the top of the big strong man game. Our children were bragging about their strong Daddy for the rest of the day. They also had a child sized version of the game.
We also watched a show with a fire swallowing pirate and his assistant. They mentioned during the show how much they had toned things down for the sake of the children (language, etc) so I was glad that we hadn’t tried to visit on a regular day. This is something to keep in mind if your family decides to attend.
Another favorite show of ours were three comedic jugglers who were quite entertaining. Our oldest, Gabriella, actually got chosen from the audience to participate in a small portion of the show!
Little Asher slept through most of the day. I carried him in my beloved Moby wrap ( fave carrier). The weather was beautiful—not too hot, not too cold—so he was snug as a bug cuddled up with Mama.
The one and only thing that I wasn’t pleased with was that we went on the day designated for elementary aged students and there was an overabundance of middle and high school aged children there as well. I didn’t quite understand the point of segregating the days when you purchase tickets if those guidelines weren’t going to be upheld. The older children appeared to be allowed to wander through the festival without chaperones, which sometimes meant we had to deal with some rude behavior, etc. It wasn’t a large aggravation, but it did cause a few uncomfortable moments when groups of unattended teenagers would rudely push past our children.
Admission costs for Student Days were $9.00 each. Children under five were admitted free. One chaperone per every 8 students is admitted free if you travel with a group, but if you go as an individual family, you will have to pay for both parents.
Student Days are over for this year, but the Festival is still open on Saturdays and Sundays until November 24th.