A Day At The Renaissance Faire – Knights, Pirates, Lords and Ladies

Renaissance Festival

I’ve always had an interest in English history, but no interest whatsoever in the medieval/Renaissance faires. I was certain they were full of costumed drunks wallowing in mud pits.  Or fake knights in tin armor jousting with wooden lances painted silver to look like steel.

When a  friend invited me to go with her to Maryland’s Renaissance Festival, I considered the source – surely she wouldn’t steer me into such tackiness.  We left in time to arrive before the gates opened, but the parking lot was already full. Knights, pirates, Tudor-era lords and ladies, Highlanders, and characters straight from Lord of the Rings made their way to the entrance. Above the  turreted white castle, a banner urged each visitor to “prepare thyself for merriment.” Stepping through the gates, we left the 21st century behind and entered the 16th century English village of Revel Grove.

This year at the Renaissance Festival it’s the year 1514  and  Henry VIII is king. First you’ll have to pass through village homeland security. In Revel Grove it’s a gateway hung with multicolored ribbon. Prepare to be wanded –  and not with a beeping TSA-type  paddle.  Revel Grove “officers” sweep your body with a Harry Potter-like wand worthy of the boy wizard himself. It’s totally tongue-in-cheek, and right there the promised merriment begins.

Among the lanes, fields and valleys, lords and ladies of the realm stroll in splendid velvet and brocade finery alongside flamboyant characters, ladies in waiting, tavern wenches and rogues. You’ll encounter knights clad in leather and mail, pirates in eye patches or “Calico Jack” finery. Highlanders proudly sport the kilts of their clan. You’re welcome to come in costume appropriate for a family friendly event. Or rent clothing of the realm from Renaissance Rentals and become a lady in waiting, a wench, a pirate, a monk or even an outlaw.

Dinty the Moor 111x300 A Day At The Renaissance Faire – Knights, Pirates, Lords and Ladies

Dinty the Moor of the Renaissance Festival

Revel Grove is crowded, full of colorful storefronts and eateries, characters, peddlers and magicians. Prepare to be taken by card shark Diego Natividad, also known, with unique Renfest humor, as Dinty the Moor. Swap sea stories with Captain Jean the Pirate Queen. Watch the alchemists, jugglers and jesters, axe-throwers and sword-swallowers. Visit the Pyrates Royale in their encampment and listen to their sea songs at the White Hart Tavern.  Gaze upon the Crown Jewels in the village church and greet the ladies in waiting as they picnic among the churchyard’s headstones.

The stage shows amaze and amuse. Watch the Danger Company’s comic knife throwing and juggling show.  You’ll get plenty of laughs from two swordsmen known as the Dueling Fools. You’ll laugh and peek from behind your hand when Fight School presents a lesson in weaponry through the ages. Acrobats, contortionists and dancers round out the show – check your program for times.

You cannot go hungry at any Renaissance Faire. In Revel Grove’s many eateries  grab a turkey leg, or a Maryland crab cake. Feast on fish and chips and follow up with a dessert of funnel cake. You cannot go thirsty, either. Good ale and wine is sold in abundance from the many “filling stations” around the Grove.

As in any prosperous village of the realm, the streets are lined with shops. Please take note: these are not flea market stalls. You’ll find silver jewelry, metal work, fine woodwork, leatherwork, glassware, soaps and scents, swords and armor and fine clothing especially suited for 21st century members of the King’s Court.

If you’ve ever been overcome by the urge to shout “huzzah”, take in the jousting tournament. Watch as knights in shining armor on horseback show their skills before the King. Although jousting takes place every weekend, from October 20-21, knights from across the country come to Revel Grove and compete for the title of greatest knight in the land.

Revel Grove comes alive every weekend through October 21, Click Maryland Renaissance Festival for more information. For festivals around the country, click Renaissance Faires and Festivals.

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