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This past weekend, we visited the Carolina Renaissance Festival. It was a fantastic family outing, and we all had a ton of fun even though I barely saw my kids as they wandered around with their friends for most of the day 😀
This annual festival is held on weekends in October and November. The 25 acres near Huntersville, NC (about 30 minutes from Uptown) that make up the town of Fairhaven include a jousting tiltyard, 12 stages, an artisan market, game booths, and various food stands. Admission is a little over $20 dollars, but we were able to find a coupon online for free child entry with purchase of an adult ticket.
If you have never been to Renfest, I adamantly suggest that you check it out! It is a lot of fun, eating turkey legs, browsing the shops, and watching the varied performances. Many people attend in costume, and they have a rental shop by the front gates if you need something period to wear. I typically do not dress up, and that is perfectly acceptable too. Although this year I did hit up the henna booth and got myself a little ink 😉
Not that interested in the long-lasting henna tattoo? No worries, there are also hair-braiding and face-painting booths where you can get in the spirit but not have to wear it to work the next day. You may want to visit the henna booth just to check out the pretty silk tent, though.
My little guy’s favorite performance is the birds-of-prey show called The Ancient Art of Falconry. He loves watching the birds fly over our heads as they soar from the stage to their posts in the back of the audience. The show included falcons, owls, and a raven. The raven is really clever, and at the end of the show, you can tip the performers by giving the raven a dollar bill which he takes from your hands with his beak and places in the tip jar. It got a giggle from all of us. NOTE: All of the performers work for tips, so make sure you have plenty of dollars ready to give out when you have enjoyed a show.
My teenager loves browsing in the Artisan Market, and looking at all of the handmade items for sale. The shops have just about everything you could imagine: swords, armor, clothing, jewelry, candles, artwork, instruments, leather goods, and toys! You can also watch some of the items being made, I especially like to watch the glassblowers and the blacksmiths. Some of the shops do take credit cards, but it is still a good idea to bring cash along just in case. There are a few ATMS dotting the grounds, but I will warn you that the fee is over three dollars.
The “street performers” and the buskers also add to the charm of the day. The fair hires over 100 local actors to mingle throughout the park and interact with the attendees. Sometimes, it is hard to tell who is an actor and who is just a guest in costume! I saw a guy this weekend in an amazing mad hatter costume, but I am not sure if he was part of the show or not 😀
Food is one of the main reasons a lot of people visit the renaissance fair! The giant turkey leg is a big draw for many (not me, though, blech). There are so many goodies to choose from, you definitely need to visit the park hungry. I munched on the cinnamon almonds and a homemade caramel cashew candy bar, both were super delicious. The little guy had to have a candy apple, and the big guy was happy with an ice cold beer 😀
NOTE: Many of the food vendors are cash only…noticing a theme here?
No visit to RenFest would be complete without watching a joust! I especially like to catch the last one of the day because it is a duel to the death. Mwahahaha! The games are presided over by the King and Queen while the lady of chivalry emcees the event. Each section of stands is given a knight to cheer for in the tilts to add a bit of extra excitement for the spectators. It is much more fun to watch the competition if you have someone to root for and someone to boo. I love watching the knights charge each other with their long wooden lances and hearing the armor crashing as the horses’ hooves pound the sand! This time, our knight was Sir Edgeron in blue and silver. He rode valiantly and earned a fair share of the points, but, alas, he did not come out victorious. So…he killed one of the knights and two of the squires in a sword fight until he was slain by the champion knight 😀 It was a load of fun.
I had a really great time at the Carolina Renaissance Festival, and I highly recommend it as a family outing, date night or as an afternoon outing with friends. Just remember to bring your cash!