Largest Renaissance Fairs in the US
Written by: Lindsay Shugerman
Contributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman
Who doesn’t love a Renaissance Faire? Okay, I’m sure there’s someone out there who doesn’t but I don’t get it. You get to dress up in 16th century costumes. Or pirate costumes. You usually get to wear a sword or fairy wings or a really awesome set of armor.
And then there are the shows. And the music. And the food. And all those amazing shops. And did I mention the costumes? There are lots of small fairs, but if you haven’t been to a Ren Fest yet, you’ll want the full experience. For that, you need to head to one of the largest Renaissance fairs in the US. Go in costume. Play. Enjoy. I promise, you’ll love it! You can thank me later.
For 35 years, New York and New England fair-goers have enjoyed experiencing the 16th century in Tuxedo Park, New York. The wooded setting with its permanent buildings is the perfect place to dress up in your favorite period costumes and immerse yourself in the food, music, drama and crafts of the Elizabethan 1500′s.
You won’t believe you’re only 45 minutes from NYC!
Renaissance Festival fans in the Southwest can indulge their 16th century party side at the annual Arizona festival. For 25 years, locals and visitors alike have enjoyed this 30-acre festival with its 10 stages, craft demonstrations, armored jousting and live music.
Costumes are encouraged, and peace-tied weapons are permitted.
The largest Renaissance Festival in the Midwest, the Minnesota Faire started in 1971 with about 25,000 guests. Last year, the Faire topped the quarter of million mark for a single season.
Guests are encouraged to dress in costume, and by and large they rise to meet the challenge with everyone from adults to children to dogs showing up in period dress. Each morning of the Faire, a costumed winner is selected, and receives free admission for the day’s festivities.
Explore the Renaissance Louisiana style when you visit the annual Hammond area festival, featuring over 100 shops, more than 50 shows and a cast of more than 300 costumed actors and performers.
Costumes are optional, and most guests at this event don’t wear them. Primitive camping is available, and is popular with those who want to continue the Ren Faire experience well into the night with song, story-telling and feasting.
Head deep into the heart of Texas for the next festival on this list. Started in 1974 with only three stages and about 30,000 visitors, this Texas-sized festival now hosts nearly half a million visitors each year. With a over 400 shops, venues and restaurants, this huge festival is well on its way to taking over the number one spot among U.S. Ren Fests.
Billed as the largest Ren Fest in the Southeast, the Georgia Festival has grown over its 28 years, and now hosts over 200,000 visitors each season. The Festival features 10 stages of entertainment, themed weekends (including a pet friendly weekend), and period art and craft demonstrations.
Period costumes are encouraged, but the organizers do refuse entry to those wearing costumes deemed “offensive or too revealing.” Some peace-tied period weapons are permitted, but the policy is more restrictive than at some other festivals so do check the website before bringing your real or costume sword, dagger or other weapons.
For over 30 years, Renaissance fans in and around Pennsylvania (including me!) have flocked to this Lancaster area 13 week celebration of all thing 1500′s. The 35-acre Shire includes nearly 100 permanent period structures, including dozens of shops, restaurants and stages. The annual event hosts over a quarter of a million visitors each season.
Since 1973, this Faire on the Wisconsin/Illinois border has been a favorite throughout the Midwest. Faire planners invite vistors to enjoy their journey to 1574, including a special visit from Queen Elizabeth herself. Costumes are encouraged, although not required, and peace-tied and sheathed period weapons are welcome.
The Maryland Renaissance Festival is usually considered the second largest faire of its kind in the U.S. Since 1977, this fair has been drawing in Renaissance fans from all over the country, many of them in elaborate costumes. Each season, the Festival organizers choose a different year from the reign of King Henry VIII as a focus. For 2013, the year is 1543, the year of the worst plagues in England’s history.
No weapons, real or pretend are permitted, even if peace-tied.
This 20-acre Ren Faire began back in 1963 as a way to teach school kids about history. Since then, the Faire has grown to an annual event hosting over 200,000 visitors each year. Considered the first of its kind, and the origin of most of today’s Renaissance Faires, the event has seen over 5,000,000 guests pass through its gates.