Renaissance Games and Entertainment: Not Just for the Aristocrats

Many Renaissance games and entertainment, because of their timeless appeal, have remained similar to those of today. Children played with spinning tops. They made up games using balls, following their own whims or rules they made up to suit their group of players. They played hide-and-seek, blind-man’s buff, and wrestled according to their size and strengths.


Children and teens alike enjoyed various types of fighting with their feet. Lawn bowling was particularly popular during the Renaissance.

For the common, working masses of people, games and entertainment turned to the outdoors since their homes were seldom conducive to most types of activities. They enjoyed participating in and being spectators at events such as boxing, football games, bullfights, horse racing, and bear baiting. These events often went through complex staging to attract the general public.

Processions were hugely popular during the Renaissance era. People loved any opportunity to show off their clothing and accessories. Such entertainments included parades through the cities and towns to mark special occasions or religious holidays. Such events were held by wealthier, more prominent families to celebrate weddings and key dates within the family. Public displays of fireworks and lavish feasts were also incorporated into the celebrations.

At all such events, a number of Renaissance games, both planned and impromptu, took place for the crowds’ enjoyment.

Market days and Renaissance fairs were ideal times for people to engage in games of chance and skill. Revelers enjoyed watching traveling tumblers demonstrate their skill. Jugglers, clowns, comics, puppeteers, and widely known masked harlequins all joined the Renaissance panoply of characters. Characters such as Punch and Judy come to us today from their origins during Renaissance times.

Renaissance games and the entertainment they enjoyed provide wonderful opportunities today to revisit and reenact the revelry of those times.

For those who are looking for authentic costumes and accessories, a site such as Ye Old Renaissance Shop can be an excellent resource for young and old, male and female.