The annual Kansas City Renaissance Festival is a themed fair that takes place in Bonner Springs, Kansas. It was started in 1977 as a way to raise funds for the Kansas City Art Institute. The event is currently run and operated by Minneapolis based Mid-America Festivals. The company also owns other Renaissance festivals like the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and the St. Louis Renaissance Festival.
It runs for seven weekends, starting on Labor Day week. The venue is beautifully decorated with banners and murals and transformed into a typical, renaissance-era village. Each weekend has a theme such as, “Celtic Games,” “Oktoberfest,” and “Swashbucklers & Sirens.” Guests are encouraged to dress in costumes befitting the theme, and it is also evident in the food and entertainment presented that weekend.
Over 150 booths and multiple stages are set up throughout the site for the entertainment of guests. A range of food, drinks, and beautiful handcrafted goods will be available for sale. Visitors can also enjoy demonstrations of ancient arts like metal crafting, woodwork, and textile weaving.
Actors dressed in elaborate costumes will perform entertaining stage shows. They will also be present in different parts of the venue interacting with guests and informing them about Renaissance art, science, and medicine.
Passes can be purchased online or at the front gate. They range in price from about $25 for a single-day General Admission adult pass to $250 for a Royal Collection Pass. The Royal Collection pass includes perks like complimentary tickets and merchandise.
Lower priced advance passes go on sale online a few months before the fair. Discounts are available to students, seniors, and military personnel. In the past, children under the age of four have entered for free, but a child’s pass is usually required for those between the ages of 5 and 12. For more information on tickets and updates, check out the official festival website for the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.
The fair venue is a 25-minute drive from Downtown Kansas City. Drive along I-70 until you reach exit 224 from the east or west. You’ll then need to turn north and drive a few blocks to get to the site. There will be signs to guide you to the fair. Check the event’s social media accounts for weather and road alerts before starting on your trip.
Your festival pass includes free parking at the fairgrounds in addition to admission. Getting there at the start of the day is recommended so that you can avoid parking far away from the festivities. Accessible parking spots will be available to patrons with disabilities on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The area can be crowded on the days of the fair, so it’s a good idea to park your rig at your campsite and use public transport to get to the fairgrounds. Buses operated by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) will get you right by the venue. You can use the local bus service or opt for the Metro Area Express (MAX).
Onsite camping is not permitted on the festival grounds. Fortunately, there are several great options in Bonner Springs and the surrounding areas.
Weston Bend State Park, which is about 35 minutes away from the venue, is a good option. It comes with facilities like electrical hookups, waterfront access, and pull-through sites. Campers recommend hiking and cycling on the paved bicycle trail which offers three miles of beautiful views. There are also a couple of well-equipped options closer to the fairgrounds.
The fair takes place outdoors, and you’re likely to be doing a lot of walking. Strollers are recommended if you’re with children. Some parts of the venue can be challenging to navigate in a manual wheelchair without assistance. Motorized wheelchairs will be available for rent near the front gate.
Costumes are welcome, and there are daily costume contests to reward guests who put in the extra effort. It can get quite warm during the day, so opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics. Weapons of any kind are strictly prohibited unless they are props that are a part of your costume that fit the event's guidelines.
Be sure to carry everything you need for a comfortable camping experience, especially if you’re staying in a wooded, natural setting. Flashlights and extra batteries are a must as well as warm clothing for the evenings. Keep a small bag packed with essentials like hand sanitizer and sunscreen to take with you to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. There will be water available for sale on the grounds. Keep your phone charged and designate a common meeting point in case someone gets separated from your group. Make sure your kids have a piece of paper or a sticker on them with your contact information.
After a long day at the fair, the last thing you may want to do is prepare an elaborate meal. Have a few snacks and sandwiches ready to go. Marinate meat and veggies and stash them away in the fridge so you can simply fire up the grill and throw them on in the evening. Make sure all your food is stored in airtight containers and kept at the right temperature. Also, check the RV camping rules of your site, before lighting a fire.
You’ll find good food for every budget in Bonner Springs. For those who prefer to go for something tried and tested, many of the large restaurant chains have outlets in town. If you love Mexican food, you’re in luck. The area boasts some great restaurants serving authentic, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and other delicious treats.
There will be various designated food areas at the venue with stalls selling yummy treats. A delicious selection of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free food will be available. You can head to one of the bars on site for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Be sure to try the signature drinks created especially for the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.
Unlike many other Renaissance fairs, weapons are prohibited even if they are secured or peace-tied. Security personnel will be conducting bag checks at the entrances to make sure restricted or dangerous items do not find their way into the crowds. The information booth located close to the front gate also serves as a lost and found area.
The weather is often warm and sunny. Since the event is held outdoors over several months, some rain is to be expected during the course of the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. If the weather turns unexpectedly severe, the fair may be closed for a few days. In such cases, no refunds or exchanges will be given.
There will be a well-equipped first aid station on site. New mothers who need to change or nurse their babies can head to a designated space located in the Children’s Realm. Patrons dealing with food allergies or medical restrictions will be allowed to bring in a small amount of packed food.