Many people wish they could travel back in time, but thanks to numerous books and movies on the subject, we all know it can have disastrous effects on the present and future. It also takes a great amount of time, science, and commitment. Luckily, there is a way to get around that. Just go visit the Renaissance Festival! A fun collection of medieval times, magic, pop culture, and cosplay, it truly is an event worth attending. After 31 years, they know how to create the right atmosphere.
Upon arriving at the festival, there will be a cannon signifying the opening of the gates, and you will then pass under an arch with characters calling down encouragement and greetings to guests. Costumes are welcome, but not required, and characters love to play off of your attire with witty jokes. My father, for example, was dressed as a monk, and was commissioned by a Pope to “buy him a drink because he outranked him”.
Speaking of, the festival is not for those who are easily offended. There is an insult game, where a man yells insults at you while you try to hit him with tomatoes. Some of the shows toe the line as well, such as “Hey Nunnie Nunnie!!”, who like to joke that they count for church and will give you one free sin for seeing their show. “Zilch the Torysteller” tells fairy tales and switches the first letter (or two) of words with other ones to make hilarious sentences that you have to really focus to follow. Jomeo and Ruliet is particularly enjoyable. Both of those shows, and others, are great, but parental guidance is suggested on their map, as indicated by an “LC” for “Loose Cannon”.
Many of the performances are music based, and are really worth seeing. Bagpipes may typically be associated with memorials, but “Tartanic” is aspiring to change that with their energetic and upbeat performance featuring bagpipes, drums, dancing, and men in kilts.
There are also acts with other talents, such as fire eating, juggling, and jousting. If you want a combination of juggling and humor, the “London Broil” show featuring AJ, Matt, and Louie is a must-see. The three play off each other brilliantly in both banter and juggling antics, as they “ramp up” the audience. They even encourage strong booing if they mess up.
The shopkeepers are all also in character, and love to tells stories and discuss their trade. Throughout the week they produce their goods while the performers rehearse, and then on the weekends the festival is on. Literally hundreds of hours goes into some of the finer works, such as the largest of the glass spheres at the artisan shop by the tournament grounds.
Each weekend this year has had a theme, with this weekend’s being “Commedia Dell’Arte Weekend”, meant for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Community. At every show, they had interpreters. This was pretty amusing for some performances, as some have a lot to say or little to nothing to say. “Zilch the Torysteller” did not have an interpreter at the performance I attended. I imagine this was because they would have be spelling out half of what he said, as most of it wasn’t real words. At “Tartanics” finale performance, they had a deaf man come up to the stage and place his hand on the drum, so he could feel the vibration of the music.
Now, while there are 14 stages throughout the 30-acre grounds featuring round-the-clock performances, there is also always entertainment going on everywhere you look. Just walking down the street you will never know what to expect. On my way out of the festival, there was a game of hangman going on, featuring an actual hangman dummy and a chalkboard. The word, for the curious readers, was “Bombastic”.
Whether you want to see shows, ride an elephant, make a ceramic hand, have your name painted on a grain of rice, eat and drink to your heart’s content, or just watch men in kilts play drums and bagpipes, there is something for you. That includes plenty of kid-friendly activities as well. There are climbing walls, Jacob’s ladder, an Archery range, a maze, and even a rocking horse bigger than an elephant named “Piccolo Pony”. Even while not at official attractions, kids can be seen entertaining themselves with rousing games of duck, duck, goose in the grassy areas.
Honestly, there is more than enough to fill two full days at the Renaissance Festival, but most people only attend one. So, choose wisely how you spend your day. Whether you go to the “Jousting Tournament”, “The Ancient Art of Falconry”, or “The Knighting Ceremony”, I guarantee a day of enjoyment and entertainment.
Now, what are you waiting for? There are still three weekends left! For more info such as ticket pricing, themes, and the wide variety of entertainment so you can plan out your adventure in advance, visit www.arizona.renfestinfo.com Huzzah and Enjoy!