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Your Guide to the Arizona Renaissance Festival 2022: Tickets, Discounts, What's New, and More

The Arizona Renaissance Festival is back.
The Arizona Renaissance Festival is back. Arizona Renaissance Festival
Polish up your armor, cinch up that bodice, and get ready to have a merry olde tyme: The Arizona Renaissance Festival is back after a two-year hiatus.

For those who have never attended the event, which is located outside of Gold Canyon, it recreates a 16th-century Tudor village that spans 50 acres and features a veritable feast of activities and attractions. People flock from across the state to pay a visit to the Arizona Renaissance Festival, which takes place from February to April each year, to sample its merriment over eight weekends. The festival offers a mix of artisans, performers, and memorable characters, as well as various rides and games.

You can feast on a sizable repast of food and drink, partake in jousting tournaments, encounter mermaids and fairies, and maybe even battle a dragon. There's also a variety of artisans and craftspeople, dozens of musicians and entertainers, and countless characters.

The festival offers a mix of artisans, performers, and memorable characters, as well as various rides and games. If you’re curious about what’s in store for the 2022 edition of the festival, which kicks off on Saturday, February 5, see below for an extensive and comprehensive guide to everything happening. Huzzah!

What Are the Dates and Times for 2022?

This year’s Arizona Renaissance Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, rain or shine, from February 5 through April 3. It will also be open on Monday, February 21, in honor of Presidents Day.

Where's the Festival Located?

The festival grounds are at 12601 East US Highway 60 in Gold Canyon. Head east on the Superstition Freeway until you reach its end, then keep going. The festival is approximately seven miles east of Apache Junction. Depending on what time you arrive, there might be a line of vehicles waiting to get in. Be prepared to deal with traffic and have a modicum of patience. You’ll get in eventually.

What's the Parking Situation Like?

There are acres of free parking available at the festival. And the sooner you arrive, the closer you’ll be able to get to the front gate.

How Much is Admission?

If you’re buying online, tickets are $29 for adults, $19 for children ages 5 to 12. (Kids aged 5 and younger get in free.) If you're purchasing admission at the event, however, it's $30 for adults, $27 for active or retired duty military and their spouses and dependents (IDs are required), $27 for and seniors ages 60 and up, and $17 for kids 5 to 12.
click to enlarge Patrons of the Arizona Renaissance Festival. - BLAKE BENARD
Patrons of the Arizona Renaissance Festival.
Blake Benard
Are Discounts Available?
Yes. General admission and children’s tickets are one dollar less if you purchase them at the customer service counter at any Food City or Bashas' location in Arizona. Hall of Frames is also offering a pair of deals for those buying through the festival’s website. Adults can get two-for-one admission for President’s Day only if they use the code “HOFA.” You can also score free admission for children ages 5 to 12 valid from February 26 to April 3 with the purchase of an adult ticket if you use the code “HOCA.”

Are There Age Limits?

Nope. The festival is open to all ages and is mostly family-friendly, save for the occasional performer who might get a little bawdy during a show. You'll also have to be 21 or older to purchase alcohol.

What Are the Festival's COVID-19 Policies?

Neither a COVID-19 vaccination nor a recent negative test result is needed to enter the festival, which is largely an outdoor experience in the open air. Patrons of the Pleasure Feast (an indoor VIP experience) will be required to present proof of either being vaxxed or testing negative. Face coverings are recommended but will only be mandated inside the Mermaid Exhibit (and free masks will be provided to anyone who requests one).

What's the Weather Going to Be Like?

Opening weekend might be chilly, but it’s going to be sunny and warm throughout most of the festival’s run. Naturally, temperatures will increase as things roll into spring and the beginning of the warmer season. And it might just wind up raining once or twice. (As we said, the festival operates every weekend, regardless of the weather.)

Basically, you’ll want to check the forecast before heading out and be sure to dress and plan accordingly.
click to enlarge Patrons of the Arizona Renaissance Festival. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Patrons of the Arizona Renaissance Festival.
Benjamin Leatherman

What Should You Bring?

Any sort of sun protection, including hats, sunglasses, umbrellas, and sunblock. Comfortable shoes are also a must, considering all the walking you’ll be doing. A bag or backpack is a good idea, as is a certain amount of cash (it’s always faster than plastic). It gets a bit dusty at times, so consider bringing a dust mask or bandanna if you have any issues.

What Shouldn't You Bring?

Any sort of real weaponry, drugs or related paraphernalia, dragons, or anything else that might be considered dangerous. Outside food or drink is also forbidden.

What's It Like Getting Inside?

There’s very little hassle involved with getting into the festival. Just hand your ticket to a festival employee at the front gate and waltz on through like you’re stepping back in time. Those wearing costume weaponry will need to have it checked out and peace-tied by the security staff. Re-entry is allowed the same day of your visit, provided you get a hand stamp from the front gate staff.

How Can I Get Around the Festival?

Given the festival’s setting and expansive layout, you’ll be doing plenty of walking during your visit. Wheelchairs and motorized scooters are available for rental, as are wagons and strollers for kids.

If you’d prefer to give your feet a rest (or just ride in style), hit up one of the rickshaw-like cabriolet carts that run around the festival ground. They operate on fares and tips, which vary depending on the number of people they’re pulling and the distance traveled.

Can I Wear A Costume?

Absolutely. Medieval, Renaissance-style, or even Witcher or Game of Thrones-inspired get-ups are more than appropriate, but any sort of cosplay is acceptable (that includes Imperial Stormtroopers; we’ve even seen Star Wars peeps at the event.) At the annual Doctor Who-themed "Time Travelers Weekend" on Saturday, February 26, and Sunday, February 27, you can get a picture in front of a TARDIS. Allons-y!

What Are the Other Theme Weekends This Year?

In addition to the aforementioned visit by time travelers in late February, this year’s list of themed weekends at the festival include the following:

February 12 and 13: Romance/Italian Age of Chivalry/Carnevale weekend
February 19, 20, and 21: Royal Raucous Abounds weekend
February 26 and 27: Time Travelers weekend
March 5 and 6: Pirates and BrewFest weekend
March 12 and 13: Celtic weekend and artisan appreciation
March 19 and 20: Wizards and Wonder weekend
March 26 and 27: Celebrating Theater weekend
April 2 and 3: Fairytale Fynery Final Huzzah weekend

So What's New This Year?

A number of musicians and acts will make their debut this year, including Iron Hill Vagabonds (an “upbeat Celtic music” ensemble), The Rambling Sailors (sea shanties), and Manticore Consort (a duo performing “intriguingly haunting hurdy-gurdy tunes”). Elsewhere, Wisconsin-based musician Randall Piper will play lively folk tunes and the Don Quixote stage show will give elements of the classic Cervantes novel into a comedic twist during interactive family-friendly performances.

The festival will feature a new game called “Dead Man’s Drop,” which will challenge patrons to hang from a monkey bar for 100 seconds in order to win a $100 cash prize.
click to enlarge There's plenty to eat at the festival. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
There's plenty to eat at the festival.
Benjamin Leatherman

What Sort of Food and Drinks Are There?

A lot of both. And, yes, there’s more to feast on than the requisite turkey legs. More than a dozen different food and drink stands are set up throughout the event and offer a wide variety of options, from appetizers to desserts and everything in between.

The biggest stands (both in size and offerings) are the King’s, Queen’s, and Joust kitchens, as well as the Pirate's Kitchen & Pub. Each features an enormous menu of items like sandwiches, bread bowls, fish and chips, chicken strips, pizza, and calzones.

There’s plenty of heartier fare, including a variety of roasted meats and sides, not to mention various items served on a skewer of some sort (such as sausage, chicken, and steak). Smaller stands and booths like The Mediterranean Fare, The Cottage Crepe Shoppe, and Ye Olde World Sausage Maker offer more specific menus and items.

When it comes to beverages, drinks both soft (soda, lemonade, iced tea) and hard (beer, wine, cider, mead) are available for purchase.

Where Can I Get Water?

Patrons can bring in a 16- or 24-ounce bottle of water as long as it's factory-sealed. You can also purchase bottled water from food and drink booths. A total of eight drinking fountains are located at various points around the festival (usually close to privies). You’ll need to drink lots of water while traipsing about the festival. Lots. Dehydration has been known to afflict plenty of festival patrons over the years.

click to enlarge The always popular Ded Bob. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
The always popular Ded Bob.
Benjamin Leatherman

What's the Entertainment Like?

A cornucopia of live entertainment takes place across 13 different stages each day of the festival. That includes a variety show-like mix of music, comedy, dancing, and other performance artistry.

There are perennial favorites, of course, like Don Juan and Miguel, Ded Bob, The Tortuga Twins, Hey Nunnie Nunnie, and Zilch the Torysteller, all of whom have been around since the festival’s earliest years.

Other popular acts include the "Ancient Art of Falconry” shows (which are held throughout the day and feature birds of prey and other noble feathered creatures), as well as the mud-caked buffoonery of The Wyld Men and the attention-grabbing spectacle of Adam Crack’s “Fire Whip Show.”

Elsewhere, you'll encounter musicians and minstrels (Bathos the Muse, Lady Prudence), comedy acts (Mother Redempta and Sister Philomenia), daredevils performing feats of skill (Gypsy Geoff, Barely Balanced), and dance troupes (Jamila Lotus, Fairhaven Morris Dancers).

There’s also Cirque du Sewer, a troupe of acrobatic rats and cats, which appeared on The Gong Show last summer, and a living sculpture known as Statue Comedius de Marbleous.

Various street characters roam the grounds and interact with patrons, including sword-fighting bandit Daniel the Fox, the curious beast Fireflicker the Dragon, and a ginormous walking tree known as Green Man.

What's the Shopping Like At the Festival?

One of the many draws of the Arizona Renaissance Festival is the sheer number of shops and artisans selling handmade items and wares at the event, much of it created on-site.

More than 200 different artisans ring the festival grounds, offering such expertly made goods as garb and costuming items, soaps and exotic oils, period weaponry, pottery, glassware, jewelry, sculpture, artwork, tapestries, leatherwork, headwear, furniture, and much more.
click to enlarge An ax-throwing game at the festival. - BLAKE BENARD
An ax-throwing game at the festival.
Blake Benard

Are There Games and Rides?

Contests of skill and fun distractions are found in abundance. If you'd like to make like Robin Hood, for instance, there’s an expansive archery booth on the premises. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, the festival offers the chance to hurl battle axes at targets or tomatoes at insult-spewing vulgarians. You can also storm the castle (in a sense) via the climbing town.

And there’s a collection of people-powered rides at the Ren Fest that young and old alike can enjoy, including longtime favorites like Da Vinci's Flying Machine and Voyage to the New World.

What's the Jousting Like?

Arguably the most action-packed attraction at the festival is this thrice-daily spectacle of knights engaging in chivalrous combat and competition inside a jousting arena. The events take place daily at noon, 2:15 p.m., and 5 p.m., and follow an ongoing plot that builds throughout the day and culminates with the showstopping Joust to the Death. A word to the wise: Seating tends to fill up quickly at each event, so try arriving as early as possible to stake out your spot.
click to enlarge The TreeMan goes for a stroll. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
The TreeMan goes for a stroll.
Benjamin Leatherman

So There's A Drum Circle At the End of the Day?

One of the highlights of the Ren Fest (in our opinion) is the uproarious drum circle that develops during the last hour of each day. Starting at about 5 p.m., musicians will gather toward the entrance of the festival grounds and launch into a free-form and improvisational drum circle that keeps going until the final cannon goes off.

All manner of drums, ranging from tablas to congas to timpanis, are banged upon during the jam-session-like affair, which typically features patrons and cast members dancing like nobody’s watching during the fleeting moments of the day.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.