First Time Faire Goers

The Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow  in Des Moines, IA is a magical experience for both young and old. When you enter our gates for the first time you will go back in time to an era when royalty ruled, knights jousted, and the arts came alive! With so much to see and do we wanted to give any newcomers to Renaissance Faires or Sleepy Hollow’s Castle Park a guide on what they can expect at Iowa’s only permanent Faire site.

The Themed Weekends:

The excitement begins Labor Day weekend and extends through the next two weekends in September. Each weekend has its very own theme which changes some of the look, entertainment, and activities that there are for you to experience.

Each weekend Castle Park is open from 10am to 6pm, rain or shine. For information on ticket prices and other details such as directions please visit our Event Details page.

A jousting knight entertains first time and returning patronsSeptember 3rd, 4th & 5th – Knights & Royals

The village of Canterbury-on-Sherwood comes to life as the Royal Court comes to town on progress. The King and Queen along with their most trusted court of Nobles, in all their wealth and glory, have come to witness the festivities. Join them in revelry and witness knights in shining armor, warriors from ages past, and the classic legends from stories of European lore.

September 10-11 – Highlanders & Lucky Lasses

From the Highland Champions and their heavy lifting games to the archers of Sherwood Forest, the land of faerie tales and pre-American history (Great Britain) brings us entertainment, food and merchants from afar. Be thee Scot, Welsh, Cornish, Irish, Briton, English, leprechaun, elfin, faery, Shakespearian or simply intrigued by these lively cultures, this weekend was created for lasting memories and the pleasure of all.

September 17-18 – Pirates & Wenches

The Queen’s Navy sails the high seas yet docks at the Canterbury River only to find freebooters of all sorts, both historical and fantasy. From Capt. Morgan to Capt. Hook and from sailing wenches to tree-house faeries this is the weekend for all things of sea legend. Land-lubbers beware as our castle town gets invaded by delightful characters from lands as near as the Caribbean and as far as Persia.

Taking Part:children enjoy their first time at the renaissance faire

There are many ways to enjoy the Renaissance Faire and many things to do. From the moment you approach the bridge and cross over into our little village the street characters, stage performers, and even our vendors are excited to interact with you! Feel free to play along and be part of the world. You can meet the Royal Court, play with fairies, observe artisans at work, participate in games of skill and chance, and enjoy performances at any of our 9 stages on the grounds. You can find a list of our performing acts here.

Dressing up?

Coming in costume is always welcome but not required. Please feel free to come as you are, a modern time traveler to the middle ages. Or join us in costume if you prefer. Our performers welcome all comers from any time period to be an integral part of the excitement our village has to offer. If you do choose to dress up please be sure to read our Policies regarding weaponry!


Browse through more than 50 specialty shops. Bring a purse full of coin (all accept paper, some may accept plastic), for our
merchants offer the finest in jewelry, weaponry, leather goods, candles, clothing, children’s items, chocolates, pottery and more. If you are a newcomer to Renaissance Faires and would like to be able to come in costume the next day our vendor and crafts people have many options to offer and many take custom orders as well. A list of this years vendors can be found here.


Come hungry! The irresistible aromas of the various vendors’ baked goods, smoked meats, stir fry, roasted nuts and caramel corn will delight even the pickiest eater. You can see a list of all our food vendors here.

Helpful hints for your first time:

  • Every day there is an opening gate show at 10am where the performers gather to welcome you to the Faire and then a closing gate show before the end of the day at 6pm with encore performances to bid you farewell. They are an experience you don’t want to miss.
  • September can be a tricky month for weather so be prepared. Sunscreen and water are highly recommended and an umbrella in your vehicle in case of rain is a good idea. Shows will go on despite the weather and there are many covered stages were you can continue to enjoy the Faire in case of rain.
  • An ATM is located at the front gate for your convenience.
  • While this is a family event, there are many styles of shows ranging from children oriented to ones with adult themes. If you are unsure if a show would be appropriate, please ask a performer about it.
  • Be sure to read our Policies so you know what is and is not allowed in Castle Park.