This post is part of the series Around Atlanta
Other posts in this series:
- Drive a Tank in Georgia! A Fun Thing To Do Around Atlanta
- Team Feud Night! New Game Night in Atlanta!
- Georgia Renaissance Festival 2017 (Current)
- Fantastic Finds in Lost Luggage!
If you’re like most people from Atlanta, around early April you start hearing the exciting trumpets announcing an annual festival South of Atlanta. I’m of course talking about The Georgia Renaissance Festival.
Much like Yours Truly, The Ren Fest has graced Atlanta for a solid 32 years. Being a card carrying Nerd, I’ve been frequenting the Land of Lords and Ladies since High School. I even wore a beautiful bracelet/ring piece of jewelry to prom to accompany the Medieval-inspired dress that I *made*… yes made. Basically, I’ve been going for an embarrassingly long time, and I’m here to help you make the most out of the Ren Fest.
Here are some questions that you might have:
What activities does the Renaissance Festival have?
There’s plenty to do besides get a sunburn! You can find a neat interactive map here.
There are a myriad of shows available for different interests and age groups. Here’s a list of all the shows available, and you can even filter by family friendly, New for 2017, and adults only.
I always check out Barely Balanced first. Mostly because they are the closest stage to the entrance…. But they’ve also been a Ren Fest staple for as long as I can remember. Happily, they update their jokes every year! They do some pretty impressive feats for Small, Medium, and Large people, but be warned… even though this is listed as “Family Friendly” there are definitely some innuendos that will ~hopefully~ go over small children’s heads like the flaming machetes go over theirs.
I’m not sure it counts as a “show” per se, but the Pirate Auction is not to be missed. Make sure you swing by the giant pirate ship by the jousting arena earlier in the day because they give out tickets for a raffle! I have yet to win anything, but that’s just because I’m unlucky.
At 4 pm, the pirates come out and walk the plank to bring guests free stuff and pretty amazing deals. They auction off amazing weapon replicas for much cheaper than you could get in their shop. There’s also a game called “Trust The Pirate” and trust me… whatever they offer you… take it. It’s a mystery item for a known price, and it is ALWAYS a good deal. It’s definitely worth sticking around for.
I don’t think it’s new this year, but it was new to me because I’d never seen it before. It happened on… the Mud Stage. So you can guess that there was a lot of mud. I’d been trying to get seats close to the front in order to get good pictures, but the bleachers were suspiciously covered in mud. The premise was that we were a Jury to decide which brother “won.” It was pretty entertaining actually, and there’s just something hilarious about grown men playing in mud. Don’t worry though. They’ll alert you when it’s time to scoot back if you don’t want mud on you.
Also new this year is the WHEEL OF DEATH! My boyfriend who’s never been to the Ren Fest before came with me, and he said he really enjoyed this show (and some others!) because they interact so much with the audience.
There were just so many different shows! You have to check out the list! If you’re having trouble ~juggling~ the different options, they have a cool feature that will make an itinerary for you! You just click what you’re interested in, and it’ll sort you out! Check that feature out here!
Games and Rides
Interspersed throughout the whole festival are tons of games and rides. There’s really something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in games of skill, strength, or if you’re a little kid… there’s a game or “ride” that you can be successful with.
Not to brag (whatever, I’m totally bragging), but I won the Robin Hood Archery contest when I was 11. I know. You had no idea I was such a big deal. So I was super pumped to shoot a bow and arrow again! The arrows have definitely seen better days and most were missing their vanes (the fake feathers), but it was such a short distance, that I guess it didn’t really matter too much. Ok, I missed my first shot PRETTY massively, but I still landed a bull’s eye and got a feather for my cap 😀
Besides the jousting that you can watch the professionals do, there’s also a “Flying Griffin” that you can ride on and try your own hand at jousting! I did it a few years ago, so even adults are allowed!
They have a new attraction this year called Ghosts of the Abyss. It took the place of my go-to “Get Away from the heat” ride. I used to go into that ride because it was dark and noticeably cooler because of fans. I decided to check this new ride out (not only because I was interested but also to see if the temperature would be cooler).
It was cool both literally and figuratively! I actually screamed out loud a few times… I’m an adult :S
Themed Shops (Shoppes?)
I love the games, rides, and shows, but honestly… my favorite part of the Renaissance Festival is the variety of Artisans. There are demonstrations were you can see ~in action~ how they create things! There are shops galore of items to buy (some are period true, some are pretty anachronistic but still fun, and some are only mildly related <I’m looking at you, fairies>!)
The larger stores will take credit cards, but some places are small and only take cash. Make sure you bring some cash! There’s an extensive list of vendors here.
Food and Drinks (Drynks?)
You would die if you ate and drank everything available. There is just too much variety. They are of course famous for the massive Turkey Legs. I’d say my biggest regret was not trying the Macaroni and Cheese on a stick. I usually get the shrimp and chips, which has always been on point. I wish there were 6 shrimp instead of 5, but not bad for $6. The drinks range from about $3 for waters/sodas and $5.50 and up for alcoholic drinks (some include decorative cups/mugs to keep!).
I’m not “a nerd”… will I still have fun?
Absolutely! I managed to drag my non-nerd boyfriend down for his first foray to the fest, and he had a great time! I caught him cracking up at the different shows, smiling at the joust, and cheering loudly for the performers. I was very interested to see how someone would enjoy the fest if they weren’t as into it as I was, and I’m happy to report that he did enjoy it! He said his favorite part was that the shows were interactive with the audience.
Do I have to dress up?
You don’t have to, but they do encourage it. You’ll see people who work there dressed up in period legit clothes, but you’ll also see visitors dressed up as: fairies, vikings, pirates, belly dancers, and truly random things. Not to judge, I guess they just wanted an excuse to dress up weird… I wasn’t sure how a rainbow unicorn in a crop top is Renaissance, but ::shrug:: To each their own!
If you’re keen on dressing up but not committed to buying anything (they have tons of shops all around the fest that let you try on and purchase corsets/waist trainers/ blouses/skirts), there is also a place at the entrance called the Belrose that lets you rent a costume!
Prices range from about $25 to $70 (I believe that was the most I saw). It depends if you want a wench or a noblewoman outfit! They also have clothes for children and men, and they rent wagons for the kids.
In case you were worried, the launder the clothes between uses, so you won’t be wearing someone else’s sweat! I decided that this was the year that I was going to rent one! It was a lot of fun, and I’m definitely doing it next year. It was surprisingly less hot than I anticipated!
Any discounts available?
There are a few! Regular Adult ticket price is $22 at the gate. You can:
- Buy online ~ $19
- Go to Team Trivia to get some
- Enter my contest to win some
- Buy a package!
The package is a great deal. It’s about $125 for 4 tickets to enter, 4 drinks, 4 meals, 4 games or rides, 4 $10 off costume rental coupons, and 4 entrances to Ghosts of the Abyss. That’s $31 a person for $55 a person worth of stuff.
Is it always the same?
Every year, definitely not, and even every weekend, I’d say no as well! They also have different theme weekends.
- May 13 and 14 ~ Highland Weekend! The Scots and Irish abound!
- May 13 ~ Educator’s Day! Teachers are free and other tickets are massively discounted! Teachers fill out this form, and for the other tickets, go to Garenfest.com and enter “APPLE” to get the discount.
- May 14 ~ Mother’s Day. First 100 Mothers get a flower! And cookie wars!
- May 20-21 ~ Pirate’s Weekend! Costume Contest and trivia contests!
- May 27 ~ Girl Scout Day. Girl Scouts wearing their vests get a Ren Fest patch!
- May 27, 28, and 29 ~ 3 day weekend! And on Memorial Day, Military members get in free, and four family members get in for $8 each.
- June 3-4 ~ Romance Weekend! Mass renewal of vows! You must register by 1:15.
Best time to go?
Well, it’s only open a few weekends in the year, but I recommend getting there early in the morning before the heat starts or later in the afternoon. If you come later, make sure you’re there before 3:30, so you can get some tickets and see the Pirate auction. Check out the schedule to see what shows there are so you don’t miss out!
How much money should I bring?
Most places take cash only unless you buy something expensive from a shop. If you buy the package of 4 or you’re not into souvenirs, you probably don’t need much cash.
Here’s an estimate of costs though:
- Water/sodas ~ $3
- Beer ~ $6
- Games ~ $2-5
- Food ~ $6 and up
- Souvenirs ~ Vary too much. Cheap to very expensive!
Continue reading this series:
Fantastic Finds in Lost Luggage!