Family Guide to the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow – Des Moines


The Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow is a fabulous event to interact with history for three weekends every September. Here’s everything your family needs to know to have a terrific day!



The faire is located in a 30 acre woodland with open fields in east Des Moines. The setting is beautiful and adds a whimsical charm to the faire! Bring sunscreen and bug spray just incase. Pay attention to where you park in the grass lot and how to get out because the exit directions are a bit confusing.

Family Guide to Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow bridge to enter

To enter the faire, you cross over a little stream on an old steel bridge and walk up a gravel lane. The faire cannot be seen from the parking lot. It’s mystical and exciting as you come around the path to the gates!

The faire is large and stroller friendly. Plan on walking a lot throughout the day!



Parking fee is $2. Gate admission is $8 for 5-12 yrs old and $18 for adults. *NO CREDIT CARDS! Bring cash! There are different group rates (see website) and discount coupons at Casey’s General Store. This is about the same price as a trip to the Living History Farms. The difference is that almost every activity cost additional money; $1 to pet a pig, $5 for pony rides, $1 to throw 3 arrows etc. The performances are free to watch but the performers do ask for a tip.

Family Guide to Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow tip sign

The children did receive lots of fun little free gifts!

Family Guide to Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow gifts

Don’t forget to bring extra money for shopping! There are over 40 vendors at the faire and you won’t find anything cheaply made or plastic here! Beautiful hand-crafted items at reasonable prices!

Family Guide to Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow clay goblets


Opening Gate Ceremony

The opening gate ceremony is a great way to kick off the day with interactive performers and lots of play!

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

There is a unique intimate feel between the performers and the guests, almost a community feel. The faire is small enough that you continue to meet the same actors or actresses and guests throughout the day but diverse enough that you always see new things.

While standing in the ticket line, waiting for the opening gate ceremony, performers delighted our children with magic tricks and play.



Sleepy Hollow has been working on updates and improvements to the faire grounds including modern restrooms. While nice and convenient, there are a few areas left to be fixed, such as water pressure. I am unaware of a baby changing station.

Family Guide to Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow bathroomThe modern restroom is located on the north side of the Joust Field and expect a line for the ladies room.   

We never did find a drinking fountain and I used a refillable water bottle bag at the sink in the bathroom. The faire’s website does not state any policy about outside food or beverages. While there are over a dozen food vendors with kid friendly food like pizza, the parking lot is not an unreasonable distance away if your family would rather do a quick car picnic.

You’re going to have a GREAT time at the faire and our family stayed four and half hours. This is one of those family adventures where you want to have a meal plan for when you get home.


Family Friendly

The Renaissance Faire is a perfect outing for families! There are lots of activities, programs, shows and fun geared toward kids. But the faire is also a grown-up costume party. A few areas of the fair are not suitable for young children including the Dungeon Tour and some of the shops which sell weapons like sharp swords.

Family Guide to Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow doorway to torcher chamber

It is acceptable at a Ren Faire to chat with the performers before a show to find out if your child is age appropriate for their audience. While hilarious and entertaining, Molotov’s show with adult humor was borderline for younger children.


And then there is Stranger Danger! So before I go on, let me say, we never felt threatened or unsafe at any point during our visit to the faire. However, parents should know that guest dress up in full costume and it could be difficult for a child to tell an actor from a visitor.

Make a family safety plan for the day. One simple thing a  child can do is to go into one of the many shops and let the people know they are lost. All the vendors will have access to staff and be able to comfort your child.

Family Guide to Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow guy dressed like king

Which brings me to my last piece of advice for a family friendly day at the Renaissance Faire…Dress-up and have Fun! Looking for ideas! Check out our Pinterest board for inspiration and other Ren Faire locations!

My kids didn’t want to dress up for our visit, however, right away when we got home they started playing “pirates and fairies”.  I can clearly see the addictive nature in wearing elaborate costumes with like-minded friends! Guess we all caught the Renaissance Bug!

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


More information about other Midwest Renaissances Faires can be found at:

Festivals International hosting faires in NE, IA & MN.

Visit At The Faire for more faires and links to performers or merchants.





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  1. Great write-up! You provide a nice description of the event and practical tips for a fun day.

    This was a fun read. It’s been several years since we’ve attended. Now I really want to go back. 🙂

    1. Kathy, You really should make a trip back! There is so much to do for all ages! My kids have never studied that period of history before and this was such a fun way to kick things off! I am looking forward to sharing more posts soon.

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