Renaissance Fair, Renaissance Festival and Renaissance Faire are interchangeable terms that refer primarily to a United States’ phenomenon. These outdoor and typically weekend gatherings reconstruct communities resembling those that existed during the era known as the renaissance period. Participants join together to recreate their childhood fantasies of lords and ladies, royalty and peasants and knights in shining armor. Fair participants enjoy lively entertainment, classes and demonstrations, shopping, eating and drinking and will often camp at or near the fair grounds and stay the whole weekend.
Originating in Italy, the Renaissance period took place roughly from the 14th century through the 17th century. Most renaissance fairs are set to emulate the period of Queen Elizabeth 1 of England although others fall outside of this time period or theme. In Europe, Renaissance Faires are more on the nature of a living history museum, with actors portraying daily life during this colorful time period.
In the US, while these reenactments do provide a historical glimpse into the renaissance era, the characters are portrayed by the participants themselves. The emphasis of these fairs is typically on the costumes, music, theater, arts and crafts and food and drink. The shopping options are fabulous. There are usually many merchants selling their wares; hand forged weapons and armor, costumes, jewelry, historical pottery, leather clothing and accessories, housewares, art, crafts, food and much more. Many renaissance faires are family friendly and offer activities for children, however be aware that there may be adult content and clothing. The costumes portrayed include a wide range of characters including: the town-folk comprising of bakers, tailors, blacksmiths, provisioners, cooks, ciderers, carpenters, cobblers, barmaids, scribes, alchemists, and healers; the country folk including, Robin Hood and his merry men, Maid Marion, farmers and peasants; the entertainers, including minstrels, Shakespearian actors, jousters and swordsmen; the noble court and household of Queen Elizabeth 1; and finally, fairy tale characters.
There are Renaissance Faires happening all over the country throughout the summer months. To relive this piece of history, visit a Renaissance Faire this coming summer.