How to feel like a part of the fantasy world at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire

Banner above entrance to Renaissance Pleasure Faire with scroll and picture of sword performer and the crowds. Justine Baginski/Lariat

Calling all fantasy lovers! The Renaissance Pleasure Faire, located in Irwindale, is in full swing every weekend from April 6 to May 19. If you’ve wanted to go but are unsure where to start, take a look at this guide for the best way to immerse yourself and have fun. 

The faire is similar to a convention, with vendors lining large dirt pathways and mini rides to go on. Also similar to conventions, there are shows, games, meetups and special events, all bathed in a fantastical Renaissance era. 

I’m a huge fan of immersing myself into the world of fiction, turning off the work section of my brain and instead welcoming the magic around me. You likely clicked on this article because you’re the same.

You’ll hear bells and whistles, bird calls, shouting vendors, cheering crowds and laughter throughout the grounds of the fair. It isn’t hard to become immersed, even without much effort. 

But … let’s take a look at some helpful tips, first. 

Tips and tricks 

To begin, the price to enter the fair per person is around $45. However, on some weekends, I’ve heard you can get two extra admission tickets for every $500 you spend at the fair… I suggest holding onto your receipts until you’re out the door in case you spend as much money as I do.

The fair is quite large, so to begin your noble journey, I suggest going to the fair’s website to find a digital map. This will help you discern just where to go. Also available on the website is a list of vendors, shows and themed weekends, all things worth checking out before you arrive at the wooden gates.

If you find yourself attending during a themed weekend, consider attending one of the themed workshops or shows, regardless of if you decide to dress for the theme or not. You may learn a thing or two, like how many lucky pirates attended pirate weekend and learned how to tie ship knots! 

One very important tip for the show-watchers is to arrive at the jousting show an entire hour before the show starts. The seats fill up very early and you likely won’t be allowed in, even if you’re half an hour early. 

Lastly, bring a bag full of essentials. Now, I understand what you might be thinking: A bag truly ruins the essence of your outfit. If the bag’s appearance is truly a problem, I suggest finding  a reasonably priced fantasy bag for sale so you can switch out your dull work bag for something that fits the cosplay. 

Some essentials might include water, snacks, umbrellas (for both sun and rain), hats, sunglasses, chargers and whatever else you may need. Also, bring cash. Many places only take cash, but if you forget to bring some, there are ATMs throughout the park. 

Another quick side tip to keep in mind is the temperature. It’s very helpful to plan ahead because the weather in Irwindale seems to be on a switch. One day it’s raining with 50 degree weather, and the other it’s over 80 degrees, with the latter being much more common. 

Now for the fun part of the guide: how to truly immerse and enjoy yourself. 

Become your own fantasy character 

Have you ever created your own character in Dungeons and Dragons? Well fear not, this is much easier. The first (and in my opinion, very fun) step to enjoying the fair is to become the fantasy character you’ve always wanted to be. 

Whether that’s a fictional creature from D&D or a simple maiden from a medieval era, you have all of the freedom. Want to add an accent while you talk to others? Go for it. Want to wear a full set of armor? Go for it. Want to be a dragon? Go for it … if you have the resources to, that is! 

Don’t be afraid of standing out, because believe me when I say goblins, mermaids and humans alike are treated equally and with admiration. 

Take your time

This one is harder because there is just so much to do, but to truly immerse yourself, strolling through the walkways can be much more fulfilling than rushing to see everything. 

There are a plethora of vendors with thousands upon thousands of items to purchase. When taking your time, you may be greeted with vendors who are more in character than you’d expect. If you look around, you may notice which characters aren’t guests like you but are instead special noblemen or blacksmiths who are meant to keep character and run their own stories. 

Interact with others 

Before you turn off your phone and give up at this part, don’t fear! 

This step isn’t as crucial as the others, but can absolutely help to add to your immersion. If you take the time to chat with someone in character, you may find yourself speaking about dragons and magical treasure. In fact, even as you scan your ticket, you will likely be greeted by someone who sounds and looks like someone straight from another era. 

Even if you decide to speak only to vendors, some may compliment your horns or your shiny teeth, giving you the tiefling respect you deserve! 

Attend shows

Another great way to get the most out of your experience is to attend the shows.

The fair offers many performances throughout the day, which can all be found on their website. Some shows feature jousting; a medieval duel where two armored knights on horseback try to knock one another off with a giant wooden spike. Other shows feature fire, magic, acrobatics or even simple comedy. You may even find some that interact with the audience, or play songs on long lost instruments! 

One show I personally attended was Lynx the sword swallower, full of jokes that just fly over kids’ heads about swallowing. It was a good laugh, and very impressive! 

And lastly… 

Leave your phone on silent and be yourself. 

At the fair, you don’t need to worry about being judged. You can immerse yourself freely, especially if you know you won’t be on your phone for the entire day. Seriously, the screen won’t help. If I’ve now convinced you of a new trip, wonderful!

To find out more for yourself and be a part of your fantasy community, take a look at the fair’s website.