Take a trip back in time to the Medieval Ages at a Renaissance faire this summer

Take a trip back in time to the Medieval Ages at a Renaissance faire this summer

Warmer weather is finally upon us, meaning it’s about time to unsheathe your swords from their scabbards, mount your horses, and ride away to catch up with some friends for drinks at a local tavern, or possibly even visit a nearby castle.

While we haven’t quite traveled back in time, we’ve come pretty close - all of this and more can be found in just a few hours drive, or even less, from the Region at a nearby Renaissance faire. 

Renaissance faires, or Ren faires, have spiked in popularity in recent years, making them a fun adventure for people of any age to enjoy. Ren faires are festivals – normally held during the spring and summer months but can also be found year-round – that allow visitors to fully immerse themselves within the Middle Ages through enchanting performances, specialized costumes, delicious food, and more.  

When visiting any given Ren faire, expect to be enthralled by various acts, be it music performances, dances, skits and more. Faires tend to hire both local and national seasonal performers, so many of the people in the acts and working the festival are actors meant to enhance the medieval experience. You can expect to find shows of every kind at faires: acrobats, fire whips, audience interactive comedy skits, and mud shows, just to name a few.

What’s also a Ren faire without a joust? No medieval festival is complete without this classic staple where two performers battle it out with swords or a similar weapon on horseback. These are sure to be found at most any Ren faire, no matter how big or small the event, and are always a fan favorite.

In between the acts, be sure to check out the many different local vendors lining the streets of the faire. From specialized medieval-themed clothing and weaponry to jewelry and accessories to unique items created by local artists, you never quite know what you’ll end up coming home with at any given faire. It could be a ceramic dragon sculpture, a dapper new cloak, or even a handmade dish to use back at home.

Many different fantasy-themed creatures and characters may also greet you as you make your way throughout the faire grounds. You can see bards, wizards, elves, fairies, pirates, princes and princesses, or maybe even some tavern wenches. Cosplay, another word for costumes, is a big part of the Ren faire culture, and many people attending these events love dressing up to look the part of the event as well. Cosplaying is a fun experience for many, and creating the costumes can sometimes be just as fun as the faire itself.

While Renaissance faires have been picking up momentum this past decade, their roots go back to the 1960s when Los Angeles School Teacher Phyllis Patterson felt her students would benefit from a more involved arts education program. Patterson, along with her husband Ron Patterson, then began to provide art and theatre workshops in their backyard for the students to attend after class. These became so popular with the students that the Pattersons eventually held what was called The Renaissance Pleasure Faire & May Market on May 11 and 12 of 1963 for local radio station KPFK. The event broke broadcasts and quickly became an annual event. As a result, a few other Ren faires came about in the state by 1967, and the popularity only rose from there into what we know them as today.

Now, in 2023, Ren faires can be found in hundreds of cities both nation and worldwide, full of fun, whimsical entertainment for everyone to enjoy as they take a step back in time to the medieval ages.

Take a look at the list below to find some upcoming Renaissance faires to attend this season and add a few to your calendar:

A full list of Renaissance faires, both in the Midwest and across the country, can be found at: therenlist.com/fairs.