I have been attending Renaissance Faires for almost 30 years. We discovered our first one while living in the suburbs of Chicago. The Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wisconsin still holds the top spot for me. It is an amazing site with artisans, food and flare. My favorite entertainer is MooNiE (https://themoonieshow.com/) who performs as a juggler, ropewalker and foolish mortal without saying a word. He is absolutely hysterical and I smile every time I think of his show. I look forward to the mushrooms in a garlic wine sauce and the soap shop that gives out chip size samples and then tracks how many people mistake it for food. The drive is about an hour north of Chicago and well worth a long weekend in that area. There is Six Flags Gurnee, Gurnee Mills outlets, Pickard China outlet and museum, and the Milwaukee Brewfest.
Since moving to Pennsylvania, I have been attending the PA Renfaire at the Mt. Hope Winery in Mannheim. It does not have the grandeur that Bristol has but it is good in its own right. The Faire runs from August to the end of October which I particularly enjoy since it offers the opportunity to visit when the heat has died down.The faire has 100 permanent merchants along with guest merchants, workshops and demonstrations. The merchant are varied and there are some lovely things to look at and purchase . Plus, don’t forget to pick up a souvenir stein , if that is your thing! The shop that is a must visit for me is Fleur Di Lis Teas and I am also mesmerized by the blacksmith demonstrations, the Mud Crew mud show (you can find them on facebook) and the live chess game. The food we had was ok. Jimmy tried a turkey leg for the first time and was not enamoured by. I understand. We had some basic food and the next time I go I would like to try some of the foods that are not along the main thoroughfare. For more information, including ticket prices and purchase, hop onto www.penfaire.com/faire.html.
There were some changes that I noticed after not having gone for a few years. The greyhound adoption site is gone and there are birds of prey there. Also, the faire has become dog friendly and have invited well-behaved pups to partake of the merriment. We loved seeing the costumes. There was a black lab puppy with black bat wings, a french bulldog in a pink tutu and a fluff pup in a black scaled harness vest with a purple dragon spine along the back. The other change is that the faire added hard liqueur and a pub crawl to the menu. Mt. Hope Winery has added tequila, gin, rum, whiskey, bourbon, ciders, schnapps, seltzers and eggnog to their list. With that, there are 12 pour house available for a pub crawl or to try the offerings. I had the most delicious cider at the Hart Inn Bar. It wasn’t sweet since tart apples were added to the mix to balance out the flavors. The apples and production was local. Amanda and Jimmy tried the whiskey at Just Whiskey. Jimmy tried the whiskey Mule and they tried a sipping whiskey.
Renaissance Faires are a permanent fixture on the US landscape. There is a list of festivals on wikipedia, renfaire.com and therenlist.com to look into. I found faires in other parts of the world. I am not sure I would want to attend one outside of the US since there are so many other things I would prefer to see but I wonder how the ones in the UK and Italy fair (pun intended). The Travel Channel lists some of the top faires in the US as did Travel Awaits and most of the faires on the two lists overlap. I am not sure what the criteria was for choosing these faires but there are mentions of attendance, the number of merchants and size. Here are The Travel Channels top faires in the US.
Carolina Renaissance Festival in Huntersville, NC (October through November)
Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission, TX
Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, MD
New York Renaissance Festival in Tuxedo Park, NY
Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, TX (near Dallas)
Bristol Renaissance Festival in Kenosha, WI
Northern California Renaissance Festival in Hollister, CA
Ohio Renaissance Festival in Harveysburg, OH (Augst to October)
Arizona Renaissance Festival in in Apache Junction, AZ (February to March)
Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, MC
King Richard’s Faire in Carver, MA (August to October)
Georgia Renaissance Festival in Fairburn, GA
If you are looking for something fun and different. This is it. The fun goes from family friendly to adult. Luckily, the map that is provided usually distinguishes the adult fun so you can keep the kiddies away from the naughty and bawdy. Enjoy!