Sterling Renaissance Festival is a themed fair that takes place annually in Sterling, New York. It is held on a large wooded lot which is transformed into a fictional village called “Warwick.” Upon entering the venue, guests can travel back in time to the year 1585.
It was started by Dennis Ouellette, Sr. way back in 1976 and subsequently taken over by Gerald and Virginia Young. It was purchased from them in 2008 by Doug Waterbury, who has enjoyed bringing this event to the community in recent years.
Local actors dress up and perform as Queen Elizabeth and the members of her court. Several other historical figures who lived during the period such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh are also portrayed. In addition to the permanent structures on the grounds, temporary tents, stages, and stalls are set up during the festival to house the performances and other entertainment activities.
Actors will be dressed up as villagers, pirates, gypsies, and street musicians. They will move among the crowds, entertaining and interacting with them. Guests can also enjoy many other attractions such as full-contact jousting, tea with the Queen, archery displays, highland games, the human chess match, and a grand parade that take place on the grounds.
Early bird tickets go on sale six months before the event. These range in price from $25 for single-day adult passes to $190 for season passes. Two-day tickets are also available. Children aged between 5 and 11 will usually require a pass to enter. Ages 12 and older require an adult ticket.
Ticket prices go up closer to the months of the fair. You can purchase them online or directly at the front gate. The lines to buy passes are likely to be long, so it’s a good idea to opt for the online option. For more information and updates, take a look at the Sterling Renaissance Festival website.
The fair takes place in Sterling, New York, a scenic town on the shores of Lake Ontario. It is a little over an hour's drive from the City of Rochester. The fairgrounds are on Farden Road. Once you enter the town, there will be signs to direct you to the event.
If you’re using a GPS app to navigate, you can enter 15385 Farden Road, Sterling, New York 13156 to find the event's location. Check if any road alerts have been issued in Cayuga County before settling on a route or view the festival's website for local weather updates.
Free parking is available at the lots on the fairgrounds. Be sure to make a mental note of where you parked your car or take a picture on your phone, so you don’t have any trouble finding it when you need to leave. Patrons with disabilities will be able to use ADA accessible parking spaces present close to the entrance.
Ride-hailing, taxi, and public bus services may be limited in this area of Northern New York. During the months that the fair is on, it’s very likely that other people staying at your chosen campsite will be traveling to the venue on one or more days. It may be helpful to carpool to the site together when possible.
Camping is not available on the Sterling Renaissance Festival grounds, and overnight parking is not permitted. It’s a good idea to book a spot at an RV park or campground nearby in advance since these tend to fill up fast on fair days.
There are several well-equipped options within a ten-mile radius. Many RVers choose to camp at the Fair Haven Beach State Park since it is less than five miles away from the venue. This is the best state park in the area and is an excellent option since it is right by Lake Ontario. It also offers facilities like hookups and big rig access.
The venue covers over 35 acres, and the terrain is mostly natural, so you’re likely to be doing a lot of walking. Strollers are recommended for young children, but they may not be allowed in some sections of the venue. Patrons with disabilities will be allowed to use manual or motorized wheelchairs. Some of the grass-covered areas can be challenging to navigate if it rains.
Patrons are encouraged to come dressed in costumes inspired by the era. If you arrive in regular clothing and change your mind at the festival, costumes are available for rent near the entrance. Prop weapons like daggers and swords are allowed, but they must be sheathed and peace-tied at all times. Sterling Renaissance Festival staff can help make sure this is done correctly if you need help upon entry.
Take a small backpack with all the essentials you need for the day like sunglasses, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, and a portable charger or create a medieval-style pouch to go with your costume. Considering all the walking you’re likely to be doing, comfortable shoes are a must. Don’t forget camping must-haves like stove fuel, flashlights, warm socks, and blankets.
Apply sunscreen and bug spray at regular intervals to protect your skin. The fairgrounds can get pretty crowded, so stay close to your group and keep an eye on your belongings. At your campsite, make sure all your food is stored in sealed containers at held at the right temperature while you are away at the festival.
There’s nothing like a hot, campfire cooked meal to get your camping experience underway. Grill some meat and veggies, or cook up a hearty old-world stew. You’re probably going to be tired after a day at the fair, so bring easy to prepare options like eggs, produce, and ready-to-cook meals. Basic supplies like firewood and ice are likely to be available at your campground, or you can look to replenish your stores in Oswego or along your route to the Sterling Renfest.
Sterling has some top-notch diners, cafes, restaurants, and bakeries serving up delicious, comforting food. If you’d like to enjoy a great meal with a view, head to one of the eateries by the lake. You’ll have many more options to choose from at the City of Oswego, which is a 20-minute drive away.
There will be plenty of Renaissance-inspired food for guests to dig into at the festival. From fair classics like turkey legs and food on sticks to more exotic eats like filo pies and dumplings, there will be no shortage of options for you to try. An assortment of beers, wines and non-alcoholic drinks will also be on offer at this family-friendly event in Sterling.
A security officer will be present at the entrance for the Sterling Renaissance Festival. Officers will also be stationed throughout the grounds. You’ll need to have a valid ID and get your hand stamped to purchase alcohol. If you lose something or need assistance, flag down a staff member or head to the first aid station.
Since the town of Sterling is located on the shores of Lake Ontario, it is typically cooler than the surrounding areas. You may need a light jacket during the day and warmer layers and blankets at night during the fall months. Severe weather may result in some of the shows getting canceled or postponed.
If you need medical assistance, you can head to one of the two first aid stations at Sterling Renfest. These will be staffed with trained EMTs and will also have separate areas for nursing or diaper changing. Many festival personnel will have two-way radios to contact medical staff, so you can approach them for help if necessary. Medical services and pharmacy options may be somewhat limited in the immediate area, but are likely to be encountered within a 20-minute drive.