The Renaissance Festival is back after having to cancel the first weekend due to the deluge of rain. I attended last Sunday and it was packed. It was my first trip ever to the festival, but after a taste of Renaissance bliss, it is sure to be a staple of my fall season.
There are a ton of shows to watch, events to catch, food and drink to consume, and you better believe there is shopping to do. You don’t have to be a Renaissance history buff to enjoy the festival, you just need comfortable shoes and few dollars to catch some of the best entertainment happening in the Charlotte area.
And while this is unscientific, the Renaissance Festival is the BEST people watching you’ll ever encounter.
About the Renaissance Festival:
- Address: 16445 Poplar Tent Road
- Dates: Each Saturday and Sunday until November 22
- Time: 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Parking: Free
- Tickets: $11-$24 (Purchase online here to save a few dollars)
Here are 6 tips from a Ren Fest newbie to maximize your experience.
- Wear comfortable shoes. I suggest staying away from flip-flops. All tallied, meandering around the massive festival grounds, I clocked about 5 miles of walking.
- Dress up! Now is the time! Anything goes. I saw everything from Game of Thrones characters to Star Wars characters walking around (and that was just the festival attendees). If you have some burning desire to don your Renaissance era best (or just some cool stuff in the closet) now is the time. And if you don’t have anything in the closet – there just happens to be a costume rental stall right as you walk in the Festival. Rent something cool for the day!
A few of my favorites:
Food and drink
- There are plenty of options for eating and drinking. BRING CASH. Food options include basic festival fare: Fish and chips, turkey legs, pretzels… and my personal favorite Steak on a Stake…
- Beer, wine, and champagne are available as well.
Insider Tip: Don’t get caught at the first beer stall. There are additional vendors scattered around. I waited 20 minutes to get my first Foothills Torch Pilsner. Look for the smaller beer carts.
Don’t forget champagne!! (That’s my kind of cart!)
My favorite part of the entire festival were the shows that pepper the environment. There are entertainers everywhere. When you arrive you will be given a map and schedule of shows. From the moment you approach the festival gate and throughout your experience you will encounter entertainers of all types. There are TONS of full-blown stage shows and many entertainers whose sole purpose is just to chat with you. They build the environment. Stop and chat.
Insider Tip: TIP! –Tip these hard working entertainers.
A couple of must see shows:
- The London Broil Show – Juggling, Comedy, Amazement. (Do not miss!)
- Roses of the Realm – Belly Dancing and Comedy
- The Jousters! – A full on jousting experience.
Bring ‘em if you have ‘em, (borrow one if you must…)
I don’t have kids. I very much wish I had borrowed one to take. There are a ton of kid friendly events. Rock climbing, face painting, forge watching, magic shows and sing-alongs are all available. Most shows are kid friendly and those that may go a bit more adult are notated on your schedule. The most fun thing I saw was a human-powered swing ride. A team of actual humans push the interior gears to swing the carts (and kids) in the air.
Artisans are all over the place. Need a 4-foot wooden mushroom… done. Need handmade items like soap, candles, or leather bags… done. Need a zodiac fairy ink stamp… yep. DONE. It’s all here. I met a man that had just bought a pair of steam-punk eyeglasses for an upcoming wedding. Spend some time checking out all that the shops along the grounds, you never know what you will find.
Know the signs
Festival safety host are dressed in yellow and carry yellow flags with a red cross on them. They are here to help. (A good thing to remind the kids when you enter)
Bathrooms are ample and marked as ‘Privies’
ATM’s are around – but save yourself the time – just bring cash!