The Carolina Renaissance Festival has been a Charlotte-area tradition since 1993.
More than 1,000 artists (including 500+ interactive costumed characters) bring the fictional village of Fairhaven to life with 12 performance stages, hands-on games and rides, an artisan marketplace and plenty of food.
The elaborate set feels a little bit like walking into the opening scene of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Location: 16445 Poplar Tent Road, Huntersville NC 28078
Festival Dates: Saturdays and Sundays through November 19
Time: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Tickets: $25 adults, $22 seniors 60+ and active/retired military personnel, $15 children 5-12, $12 children of active/retired military personnel (buy online in advance to save $1)
Dog friendly? Nope, but you can visit the Royal Hounds of Fairhaven, a group that brings Renaissance history to life through sighthound rescue and adoption
Payment Methods: Visa, Mastercard and Discover accepted at the ticket box office. Inside, payment method varies by vendor — many accept cash and cards but some (namely food vendors) are cash only. Also keep in mind that tipping performers is customary and they will outright ask. Bring cash or visit one of 10 ATMs on site.
There are 12 performance stages on the grounds with new shows running every 30 minutes to an hour. Acts include musicians, comedians, circus performers and more. See the full performance schedule here. Signs with the schedule are also posted at the front of each stage.
This is an all around extremely kid-friendly event but some performances include adult humor and are marked “LC” for “loose cannon” on the schedule.
Jousting, the festival’s biggest and most elaborate performance, takes place at 12:30, 2:30 and 4:15.
The live falconry demonstration (Edgewood Theater at 11:30, 12:45, 2:15 and 3:45) is another must see. My husband and I stumbled upon it on our way our and were absolutely floored. The birds fly right over the audience and I almost got hit by an owl.
Shopping and Souvenirs
Artisan vendors have booths set up throughout the grounds where they sell everything from handmade candles and jewelry to Renaissance-era costumes and swords.
Most vendors accept cards and will hold your purchase at the tent until you’re ready to leave.
Food and Drink
Turkey legs, a Renaissance Festival classic, are available in abundance at different vendor booths. You’ll also find chicken and steak on a stick, “dragon” chops (it’s pork) and more modern fare like pizza, chicken fingers and giant pretzels.
Here to drink? You’re covered all day with mimosas, beer and margaritas. If that’s your plan of attack, here are the pick-up and drop-off instructions for your sober ride (UBER/Lyft/taxi).
Take a closer look around…