Renaissance Faires offer visitors the chance to shed their modern selves and adopt a persona from ye days of olde.
If you've never been to a Renaissance Faire, here's what to expect:
- Lots of shops selling Renaissance apparel, swords, and artwork.
- Lots of food and drink (Think roasted turkey legs and wine)
- Comic skits and hilarious performance artists
- Shortened versions of Shakespeare's plays
- Celtic / Medieval musicians and dancers
- Jugglers, stilt-walkers and other tricksters
- Jousting and swordplay (Hopefully in an arena!)
- Wandering actors, portraying historical figures such as Leonardo DaVinci and Queen Elizabeth
The typical Renaissance Faire takes the era a bit loosely. Costumes and characters from the 1300s all the way up to the mid-1600s can be discovered throughout the faire.
Historically the Renaissance took place between late 13th century, and its impact continued all the way to the early 17th century. Most "Pleasure Faires" place themselves during England's Renaissance during the late 1500s. However, one still might spot Michelangelo or Machiavelli frolicking about. However, with all the ale and mead available, you won't mind the anachronisms!
Finding a Local Renaissance Faire:
Generally, when a Faire comes through town it stays for four to six weeks, operating mainly on Saturdays and Sundays. I recommend the state-by-state list available at RenFaire.com. The list is extensive and kept relatively up-to-date.
Dressing the Part:
Many guests arrive in costume. Others choose to rent a Renaissance outfit from one of the many costume booths. Of course, many people show up in modern day attire. However, be forewarned: the 16th century characters might poke fun as they marvel at your cell phones, wrist watches, and contemporary attire. General costumes for males are of the swashbuckler variety. Ladies often opt for the "wench look" with a combination of corsets and cleavage. If you are the modest type, don't fret. Many folks dress in prudish Puritan garments (making sure not to expose anything sinful - such as a woman's ankle!)
Renaissance Faire employees do their best to stay in character. Even the maidens selling "steak-on-a-stick" enthusiastically engage in Elizabethan dialogue. Guests are encouraged to interact with the performers. In fact, many "regulars" purchase a "Faire Pass" that allows them to attend every day of the Renaissance Faire. Then, they spend their entire weekends embracing their 16th century persona. If you would like to try "getting into character" at the Faire, you'll want to know the lingo:
Thou = You (Nominative Form, as in: "You are a pig!" / "Thou art a swine!" Thee = You (Objective Form, as in: "I love you!" / "I love thee!" Thy = Your (Possessive Form, as in: "Your eyes are beautiful." / "Thy eyes are beautiful." Methinks = "I think" Zounds = "God's wounds" (Used as an oath or an expletive.) Huzzah = "Hooray!!!" (When in doubt, just shout "Huzzah," everyone else at the Faire does!)
Take It Up a Notch:
To sound really sophisticated, get to know a few Shakespearean monologues. Even if you don't memorize them, you should be able to pick up a few cool phrases or sentences. If you would rather not delve into the philosophical soliloquies of Hamlet, then at least check out this handy list of Shakespearean insults. The more knowledge you attain, the more you are likely to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of the Renaissance Faire. With that in mind, you may consider visiting our erudite About Guides to brush-up on the culture and history of the era:Ye Olde Forum.