Huzzah! The Biggest Renaissance Festivals in the U.S
Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans go to the nearest Renaissance fair to see princes plotting to take over the throne, enjoy free-flowing mead and cheer at jesters. It's a chance to partake in the best parts of the era — without the plagues, streets full of bodily fluids and awful food.
"Renaissance" is loosely used, with costumes and themed days covering everything from Vikings to medieval knights, mermaids and pirates. You'll even find references to fantasy and sci-fi sagas like "The Lord of the Rings," "Game of Thrones" and, yes, "Star Wars."
But historical accuracy isn't really important. The point of these fairs is to get a chance to dress up, speak old English, drink beer and eat giant turkey legs. These are the largest Renaissance Festivals in the country for all this and more.
13. New York Renaissance Faire
Location: Tuxedo Park, New York
Dates: Weekends from late August to early October
No. of attendees: 160,000
The Experience: New York Renaissance Faire
Recreating a 16th-century English village, the New York Renaissance Faire is considered the best in the state. Over 100 artisans bring beautiful crafts to life, while acrobats, fire breathers, jesters and knights guarantee endless entertainment for attendees.
The fair celebrated its 45th year in 2022, and the event just gets better and better each year.
12. Ohio Renaissance Festival
Location: Harveysburg, Ohio
Dates: Early September to the end of October
No. of attendees: 165,000
The Experience: Ohio Renaissance Festival
Queen Elizabeth I, fire jugglers, sword fighters, musicians and more come together to entertain at the Ohio Renaissance Festival.
Attendees will have over 100 daily shows to visit, food halls to dine at and numerous shops to get some cool souvenirs.
10. Carolina Renaissance Festival (Tie)
Location: Huntersville, North Carolina
Dates: First weekend of October to end of November
No. of attendees: 200,000
The Experience: Carolina Renaissance Festival
The Carolina Renaissance Festival calls itself "the biggest party since Camelot." (We're guessing they mean the parties King Arthur held in between all the betrayal, war and death?) More than 500 costumed "villagers" roam around, providing great laughs and entertainment.
There is even an ethereal mermaid show that kids and adults gush about. As for rides, you'll get to spin in Da Vinci's flying machine and ride the (alleged) largest rocking horse in the world.
10. Colorado Renaissance Festival (Tie)
Location: Larkspur, Colorado
Dates: Weekends from mid-June to early August
No.of attendees: 200,000
The Experience: Colorado Renaissance Festival
Made to resemble a 16th-century English village, the Colorado Renaissance Festival offers stages, costumed cast members, medieval music and photo contests.
One thing we love about this particular fair is that you can rent costumes, so you can participate in all the fun without having to commit to keeping a random period dress in your closet.
8. Medieval Fair of Norman (Tie)
Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Dates: First weekend of April
No. of attendees: 240,000
The Experience: Medieval Fair of Norman
The Medieval Fair of Norman is not as famous as other festivals, but it stands out for having no entrance fee.
You heard right. While you'll pay for food, entertainment and shopping, going to the event is completely free. That's pretty impressive considering this is Oklahoma's largest weekend event.
Play a human chess game, catch short plays and be mesmerized by talented jugglers.
8. Michigan Renaissance Festival (Tie)
Location: Holly, Michigan
Dates: Late November to end of December
No. of attendees: 240,000
The Experience: Michigan Renaissance Festival
Seventeen stages with magicians, jugglers, musicians and, of course, jousters keep people coming back to this fun event. More than 100 independent vendors sell their crafts at the marketplace, which is a highlight of the Michigan Renaissance Festival.
Other highlights include the pub crawl, a whiskey-tasting experience and a hawk walk.
5. Arizona Renaissance Festival (Tie)
Location: Gold Canyon, Arizona
Dates: February and March
No. of attendees: 250,000
The Experience: Arizona Renaissance Festival
Held in a 30-acre space that recreates a Tudor village, the Arizona Renaissance Festival is incredibly popular with state locals, many of whom travel to Gold Canyon just for it.
Because of the event's winter and early spring dates, it provides a fix for Ren fair aficionados who don't want to wait until fall to don their costumes and say "prithee" every time they interact with someone.
5. Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire (Tie)
Location: Manheim, Pennsylvania
Dates: Weekends from the end of August to the end of October
No. of attendees: 250,000
The Experience: Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire
Expect beer tastings, fire dancers and stage shows at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. Normally held in the extensive Mount Hope Estate, you'll get to explore 35 acres of the Shire, as the village is called.
Interact with the costumed characters, get some unique handcrafts and dig your teeth into the seriously delicious food.
5. Renaissance Pleasure Faire of Southern California (Tie)
Location: Irwindale, California
Dates: Weekends from the beginning of April to the end of May
No. of attendees: 250,000
The Experience: Renaissance Pleasure Faire
This Southern California festival is the original Renaissance Pleasure Faire, an event that can now be found in various states.
With themed weekends, costume contests and fun events like pub crawls, it's easy to see why it spawned an entire industry of Renaissance recreation events. Expect an overall fantasy vibe, with Marvel heroes, pirates and fire dancers making appearances.
4. Maryland Renaissance Festival
Location: Crownsville, Maryland
Dates: Specific weekends from August to October
No. of attendees: 300,000
The Experience: Maryland Renaissance Festival
You don't want to miss the Maryland Renaissance Festival, which has over 200 performers, 140 merchants, 42 food vendors and five taverns.
Make sure you see the jousting show, one of the best in the country. And with the event open from August to October, you'll be able to easily find a date that works for you.
3. Minnesota Renaissance Festival
Location: Shakopee, Minnesota
Dates: Weekends from the end of August to the beginning of October
No. of attendees: 320,000
The Experience: Minnesota Renaissance Festival
People in Minnesota don't like to do anything small. This is what's brought them up to second place in the world of Renaissance fairs.
Recreating another 16th-century English village, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival claims to have over 800 things to do.
This includes comedy shows, plays, interactive contests and a food festival.
2. Bristol Renaissance Faire
Location: Kenosha, Wisconsin
Dates: Weekends from early July to early September
No. of attendees: 398,000
The Experience: Bristol Renaissance Faire
Organized by the same people that do the SoCal Renaissance Pleasure Faire, this gigantic festival has 20 stages spread out over 30 acres. Do the RenQuest, and follow puzzles around the entire property for a life-sized, role-playing game.
The festival centers around King Arthur's medieval court as well as Queen Elizabeth I's Renaissance reign, so get excited to see actors from both periods roaming around.
1. Texas Renaissance Festival
Location: Plantersville, Texas
Dates: Weekends in October and November
No. of attendees: 500,000
The Experience: Texas Renaissance Festival
In terms of size, no one can compete with the gigantic Texas Renaissance Festival. With over 500,000 attendees, it isn't just the biggest in the U.S., but in the world.
The event kicks off with an incredible Oktoberfest celebration. Expect 400 shops, 20 stages, themed weekends and a heck of a lot of fun.
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