Where in Tampa can you meet royalty, see knights jousting, watch pirates marauder, learn to fight with swords, and see gypsies dance? The Tampa Bay Renaissance Festival at MOSI. Tampa is turning “medieval” again this year and the 7 week event runs from mid-Feb to the the beginning of April. The faire’s variety of activities are designed to entertain families and kids of all ages.
My family has gone to Renn Faires around the country and Tampa is one of our favorites. To get the most out of the event I suggest, dressing up (especially the kids) and playing along. The vendors, actors, and musicians come from all over and are here to entertain and sell their themed wares.
The event starts on February 18th and runs every weekend until April 2nd. It is located at 11315 N. 46th Street, Tampa, FL 33617 next to MOSI and parking is free. Tickets can be purchased online at www.BayAreaRenFest.com or at the gate. Children 4 and under are free, 5 -12 are $9.95, and adult prices are $17.95, if you purchase them in advance. It is an extra $3 per ticket at the gate or you can pickup discount tickets at Walgreens or MOSI. You can’t bring in food, but there is plenty to eat and drink in several areas around the festival.
Tips for enjoying the faire:
- wear comfortable walking shoes, it is a large mainly wooded terrain;
- it is open rain or shine, but the area can get muddy if it has been raining;
- strollers may be a challenge, the ‘off road’ type is your best bet if you need one;
- get the times of the entertainment events when you arrive and plan around them;
- don’t miss the jousting, the kids will love seeing the knights and horses;
- try to have a pattern for exploring, there are numerous paths and it is easy to miss something;
- bring cash, some of the food vendors did not take credit cards;
- most of all, plan to spend a full day, it is hard to see everything in just a few hours;
Here are the weekend themes to help with your planning:
The first weekend, February 18th – 19th has the Highland Fling that includes Scottish Highland games like a Keg Toss, hammer throwing, and a caber toss. Expect to see a lot of kilts this weekend!
Feb 25th and 26th is the Chocolate Fantasy weekend, which boasts of free samples of chocolate from local chocolatiers and bakers. YUM!
Pirates and Pets are showcased on March 4th and 5th. Break out your Gasparilla pirate outfits and join in. Dogs, who are up-to-date on their vaccines, can also come along with a registration and fee. See the rules online before bringing them to the event.
Time Travelers is the theme for March 11th and 12th. This weekend honors Steampunk, Dr. Who, and sci-fi costuming from time periods past, present or future. This weekend also has the State Belly Dance Competition.
For St. Patrick’s Day weekend the theme is Shamrocks & Shenanigans on March 18th & 19th. Expect more Highland games and kilts to appear this weekend. We will have to see if they have green beer!
Barbarians and Brew fest is perfect for Tampa on March 25th and 26th. This weekend boasts a Beard competition and the Florida State Archery Competition.
Finally, the last weekend of April 1st and 2nd, brings back the pirates in the High Seas Adventure weekend! A pirate costume contest, peg leg relay race, and a tattoo contest are planned.
This is a fun day that can easily compete with any theme park in the area. Just remember you are ‘stepping back in time’ and in the woods, and plan accordingly. Maybe we will see you there!