7 educational experiences at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow – Des Moines

Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow 7 Educational Experiences

The local Renaissance Faire was the perfect way to kick start our study of the Renaissance period in history using The Story of the World Vol 2 (SOTW).  

The Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow runs for 3 weekends each September and features a different theme each weekend. We visited the first weekend with Knights & Royals. Plan a trip to a ren faire for your family!

You’ll notice a difference in a ren faire compared to Living History Farms. A ren faire isn’t strictly focused on educational presentation. However, you can learn a lot by asking questions and getting involved.

Here are 7 educational experiences at the Renaissance faire!


Knight Fight

Raven’s Armored Combat team is incredible!!! These guys and one girl go at it full force, all-in, no script or rehearsed scenes. A viewer gets a true sense of how utterly exhausting and dangerous being a knight was. My son was totally absorbed and loved watching this demonstration.

Knights are epic in any study of the renaissance period and the Raven team doesn’t disappoint. SOTW covers knighthood in chapter 17, pages 152-159

Raven's Armored Combat team battling at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow


Unless you are planning to travel to The Field Museum in Chicago, here is your best opportunity to encounter the Vikings. Living history reenactment camps for the Warriors of Valhalla and Olskipan Vikings are ongoing daily at the ren faire.

Enthusiasts are dressed up in period costumes and share their knowledge about weapons, communication symbols, daily life and cooking a meal over an open fire. Be sure to ask specific questions and spend time chatting with these nice folks!

You’ll find the Vikings in chapter 14 and throughout SOTW Vol 2.

Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow with Warriors of Valhalla

Olskipan Vikings camp at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow


Joust Match

Trained professional actors delight a crowd and the royal court with a joust match. This reenactment makes the stories on still, quiet pages come to life.

Read aloud page 154 & 155 in SOTW and your children will become the knight racing to fight, wearing their heavy padded armor and bringing victory for the kingdom.

Joust match at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow

Joust match at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow

Joust match at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow


Medieval & Renaissance Daily Life

A cluster of tents give a peak into daily life in the 1500’s. Try on a knight’s helmet, watch blacksmiths work or learn about rope making. The living history camp is ongoing daily during the ren faire.

SOTW explores these different roles and daily life experiences throughout the book and on page 145-147.

Medieval & Renaissance Society at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow in the kitchen tent.

Blacksmith fire at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow

Razor’s Edge Knife Works


Royal Court

Behold the Royal Court and all of its splendor! What would be a day at the ren faire with out a king and queen.

Read about Dynasty’s and rulers throughout the SOTW including Queen Elizabeth in chapter 38.

Family Guide to Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow King and Queen walk through gate


Fine Arts

As key staple in the Royal Court and on the corners of any medieval square – musicians still play an important role in defining culture. Many musical performances are center stage during the ren faire. Musicians are mentioned on page 147 in SOTW.

Musicians play at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow

Man plays the violin at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow

Children and adults alike will also appreciate connecting present day art with the past. My daughter loved watching the potter create bowls. I could hardly get her to leave.

A child watching a demo at The Potter's House at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow


Magic & Myths

Enjoying a little fun, the ren faire embraces all things childlike and mythical from fairies to dragons. There is a cute little fairy house hunt game your child can play. The game card is given to you upon arrival. (Bring a pen). We loved the idea, however, we found the hunt too difficult and gave up without receiving our prize.

Fairy talks with child at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy HollowDress like a fairy and visit the fairies in their home. Encourage your child’s imagination and enjoy! Little glass beads are handed out as “dragon tears” and my kids came home wanting to find more. Oberon's Realm, Fairy House, at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow

William & Blackjack put on a hilarious show with audience participation.  If you have little ones then be sure to check out the Children’s Stage. My children actually think that William can change bubbles into glass marbles.

Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow with William & Blackjack on the Children's Stage

You can read lots of myths and legends throughout the SOTW about talking animals, gods, warriors and more.

Don’t forget to look for Robin hood. He wanders around with a few of his merry men. Read that story on pages 180-185 in SOWT.   


Check out our Pinterest board for inspiration and other Ren Faire locations! Bring medieval history alive for your family and visit a faire this year!

Discloser: Our visit was hosted, however, all opinions expressed in this article are completely ours and based on our own family’s unique experience.

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