The Northern California Renaissance Faire is held in Hollister, California. All the festivities take place in a fictional village called "Willingtown" of Old World England. It is set in the mid-1600s, at the height of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
NorCal RenFaire takes place on consecutive weekends in September and October. Each of the weekends is given a different theme like “Heroes & Villains,” “Oktoberfest,” and “Halloween Fantasy.” These are brought to life through costumes, performances, games, food, and merchandise.
Eight different stages are set up across a 20-acre venue. Shows featuring talented local actors take place at these stages. Hundreds of performers dressed in costumes of the era will be present all over the grounds, interacting with guests and putting on skits. The streets will be lined with stalls selling beautiful Renaissance themed clothing, jewelry, art, and other handicrafts.
Visitors from far and near flock to the faire to witness the daily jousting matches, which are a major draw for the event. Two tournaments take place every day, followed by hand-to-hand combat displays. Guests can also enjoy some delicious fair food, and weekly music concerts put on by emerging local musicians and bands.
Tickets can be purchased online or at the festival gate. They range in price from around $30 (single-day General Admission tickets) to $230 (Fairever pass). A Fairever pass will give you access to all of the days of the faire. Weekend passes are available as well as discounted group tickets.
In years past, children under the age of 12 have been allowed to enter for free if present with a ticket-holding adult. A special online discount is offered to patrons attending on opening weekend. Check out the event website for more information on tickets and pricing for the Northern California Renaissance Festival.
The town of Hollister is about 90 miles away from San Francisco. U.S. Highway 101 and I-5 may each bring you close to the area of Hollister. The venue is a two-mile drive from the point where Highways CA-152 and CA-156 intersect. Before you load up your RV and set off on your trip, check if any road alerts have been issued in the area. Route options may be plentiful further away from the venue, but as you approach the area, fewer road choices may be available.
Paid general and VIP parking spots are available at the fairgrounds. The VIP parking spots are closer to the entrance, so you can avoid the long trek if you opt for one of these. RV parking is also available at these lots, although you will not be allowed to camp overnight at this Renaissance Faire in Northern California.
Public transportation may be readily available in some of the larger communities surrounding the area but will likely become limited as you near the Casa de Fruta area. Depending on your campground, you may be able to walk from there to the festival venue. You can get to the venue using a taxi or ride-hailing service. Carpooling to the event may also be a good option, so check if any of your fellow campers plan on attending the fair. This way you can save some money and cut down your carbon footprint as well.
Onsite camping or overnight parking is not allowed on the NorCal RenFaire grounds. All vehicles are required to exit when the day comes to a close. You’ll need to book a spot at a campground or RV park nearby. Booking a campsite in the area in advance is preferable for the weekends of the faire.
The closest RV park is less than a mile away with contact information usually available via the festival website, although bookings are made independently of the Northern California Renaissance Faire. Another option is the San Luis Reservoir State Park, which is about a 30-minute drive from the venue. This is a favorite state park among RVers in the area. Here campers can enjoy activities like boating, sailing, and fishing in the park’s lakes. Henry W. Coe State Park and Pachecho State Park are also worth exploring in the area.
The faire is an outdoor event with natural terrain. You’ll need to get around using the dirt pathways that snake through the grounds. Some parts of the venue can be challenging to navigate in a manual wheelchair, especially if it rains. Motorized wheelchairs and scooters are recommended if possible.
Be sure to check the theme of the weekend you plan on attending and dress accordingly to beef up your adventure. Costumes are encouraged and add to the fun. They are available for rent as well. Costume weapons are allowed, but they must be peace-tied and sheathed at all times. Comfortable closed shoes are a must.
Head to the fair with a small bag packed with essentials like sunscreen, bug spray, a hat and hand sanitizer. Always take extra batteries and a flashlight for your nights spent camping. Make sure you pack your hiking shoes to enjoy some of the great hiking trails in the area.
The venue will be crowded, so stay close to your group and keep an eye on your belongings. Give your kids a sticker with your contact information, in case they get separated from you. Check the first aid kit in your RV to see if it has everything you’ll need in case there’s an emergency or a minor need.
No camping experience is complete without a piping hot meal by the campfire. Before lighting up at your campsite, check with the manager of the park. They will be able to inform you if there’s a burn ban in effect and tell you about any RV camping rules. You’re likely to find basic supplies and groceries on site at many of the nearby locations, but you may also want to stock up before arriving in the busy region.
You’ll come across plenty of great restaurants less than 20 minutes away from the venue. Apart from the usual chain outlets and fast food joints, there are some small family-owned establishments serving up delicious food. If you’re in the mood for an indulgent breakfast, head to one of the cafes in town.
There will be a food court close to the front gate where guests can indulge in a range of delicious eats. Whether you’re in the mood for traditional Renaissance-inspired fare or more familiar food, you’ll find it at the faire. Be sure to give the meat pies, turkey legs, and chocolate-dipped cheesecake a try.
Security personnel will be checking bags and belongings at the entrances. Weapons will be examined carefully and to make sure that they are properly peace-tied. Firearms of any kind will not be permitted anywhere on the grounds. Pets, except for service animals, will not be allowed in for their own safety.
The weather is often warm during the day and cool at night. In the rare event of severe weather, the faire may be closed. No refunds or rain checks will be given. Updates are provided regularly on the event’s website and social media pages. Remember to check the weather as you plan your trip to Northern California and just inland of Monterrey Bay.
There will be a first aid station located onsite, close to the entrance. Here you can get information and assistance from trained medical professionals. Porta-potties will be available throughout the site, including accessible facilities. Medically necessary items, equipment, and food will be allowed in after being cleared by security at the front gate.