Every year, a part of Apache Junction, Arizona, is transformed into a 16th-century European country fair when the Arizona Renaissance Festival comes to town. This extravaganza features amusement park-style entertainment, music, comedy, feats of daring street performers, shopping, and food, spread out over 30 acres for two whole months.
Renaissance buff or not, you're sure to find something that tickles your fancy, whether it be the costumes, the jousting, the crafts, or the turkey legs, at this old-timey fair, held annually in February and March.
Dates & Times
The Arizona Renaissance Festival takes place every Saturday and Sunday (rain or shine) from February 8 through March 29, 2020, and on President's Day, Monday, February 17. The hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Student Days are designed especially for educators to highlight the historical aspects of the Arizona Renaissance Festival. These special days—Tuesday, February 25, for elementary students and Thursday, February 27, for junior and senior high school students—are not open to the public.
The Festival Village is erected on a sprawling 30-acre lot in the southeastern section of the Greater Phoenix area.
- From Phoenix, take Highway 60 past Kings Ranch Road.
- From Tucson, take Highway 79 to Florence Junction, then go west for seven miles on Highway 60.
You'll see signs directing you to the Festival as you approach the Gold Canyon area.
It may be far to drive for some and, unfortunately, there is no public shuttle or public transportation to the village. Parking at the venue is free.
Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $28 per adult, $25 for seniors 60 and older, $25 for military personnel, $18 for children between the ages of 5 and 12, and $15 for child dependents of active or retired adult military personnel and their spouses (upon showing a military ID). Children under 5 years old are free. Purchase tickets in advance online and save $1 on adult and child tickets.
The admission price includes parking and all entertainment shows, including the Tournament Jousting and Birds of Prey show. It does not include food, beverages, rides, or games.
Season passes cost $155 for ages 13 and up or $180 for VIP parking. The Squire Season Pass for kids under 12 years old costs $70.
You may be able to find discount tickets at Fry's Stores, Fry's Marketplace, Wendy's, Hall of Frames, Cobblestone Auto Spa, and Phoenix Flower Shops. If you have a coupon, bring it to the box office as you won't be able to buy tickets online with it.
The closest towns to the village are Apache Junction and Gold Canyon. The Gold Canyon Golf Resort and the Best Western are recommended hotels for festival-goers.
There are many stages, each hosting different types of entertainment all day long. Most shows are between 30 and 45 minutes long, but the audience can come and go as they please. Although most are suitable for all ages, there are a few shows labeled with a bold "LC" ("Loose Cannon") on the schedule. That means to expect raunchy, lewd, and not always kid-friendly content.
- Loose Cannons: Zilch, the Torysteller, is a comedian whose humor is pretty adult-only, not necessarily because it's dirty but rather because it's often too subtle for kids to get. Then, there's Ded Bob, a corpse puppet whose jokes usually involve body parts, and The Tortuga Twins, a trio of comedians who tell classic stories with a funny twist.
- Street Performers: Elaborately costumed performers and artisans roam the village streets. King Henry and his Royal Court, duelists and Ladies, musicians, and even the Knights' chargers wear authentic Renaissance garb.
- Jousting: A day at the Renaissance Festival wouldn't be complete without a visit to the King's Tournament Arena to see knights joust for royal recognition. This attraction is held three times daily.
- Demonstrations: A variety of craftsmen, artisans, and food purveyors are on hand to add to your merriment. There are demonstrations of weaving, armor-making, and other activities typical of the period. More than 200 vendors will be there to display and sell their wares.
- Games and Rides: There are contests and rides for people of all ages, most requiring additional fees. Test your ax-throwing skills or launch a tomato at an insulting peasant at Vegetable Justice. If you're with a friend who you'd like to embarrass, you'll enjoy the Village Pillory: "Torture at a reasonable price."
The food offerings at the Arizona Renaissance Festival are fit for the king, himself. The giant roasted turkey leg is always a popular choice, but other foods you can eat on-the-go include sausage on a stick or chocolate-covered banana on a stick.
For an elevated experience, join in on The Pleasure Feast, a 90-minute meal and show where you'll be pampered with five courses and lively (often raunchy) entertainment, then go home with a souvenir. There are two Pleasure Feasts per day, one at noon and one at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are additional and you'll need to bring cash for tips. Children are not typically in attendance.
Hints and Tips
The Arizona Renaissance Festival is a great chance to enjoy the warm Arizona weather in late winter and early spring, but be prepared for the details of this annual event.
- No outside food or drink is permitted.
- No pets are allowed.
- Strollers and wheelchairs are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Costumes can be rented at the festival, but remember to wear comfortable walking shoes. Costume swords and daggers are permitted as long as they are properly sheathed.
- Bring cash for food, games, and rides. Cash tips are appropriate at the Pleasure Feast. Tips are also appreciated by many of the performers. There are ATMs at the Festival.
- Remember that an outdoor venue like this can get pretty hot on a sunny day. There are various shady areas (including at the stages), but don't forget to wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
- Need a restroom? Look for signs to the "privy."