Located on the Cabarrus-Mecklenburg County line off Poplar Tent Road and NC 73 is a village where imagination, fantasy, and history burst to life. It is a place where adults can feel and act like children while children are treated as royalty. It is a magical realm where you will forget about your daily cares.
It is the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace -operating 8 consecutive Saturdays and Sundays, October 5 through November 24.
It is the 16th century and The Renaissance Festival’s story-book village is Fairhaven; a peaceful shire filled with charming cottages, castles, kitchens and pubs, all nestled amongst 245 acres of beautiful fall forest. It is within the village walls of Fairhaven where pleasure and celebration rule the day as villagers, artists, craftspeople, musicians, performance troupes and food vendors have all gathered together to create a marketplace festival in celebration of the arrival of their visiting Queen.
With trumpets blaring and cannon blasting, The Lord Mayor orders the gates of Fairhaven to swing open at 10 a.m. and close at dusk. The day is filled with an abundance of attractions appropriate for all age groups, presented upon 14 stages, each packed with a unique mix of continuous music, dance, comedy shows, and circus entertainments. From barely balanced acrobats to one-of-a-kind old-world musical instruments, the entertainment options are endless. The stage shows are always spontaneous, and you can take part in the action if you wish – or sit back and enjoy watching the audience volunteers who make a spectacle of themselves. You will never know what happens next, on stage or off.
The entertainment also takes place right in front of you within the village streets as a costumed cast of medieval commoners, knights, and royalty celebrate a 16th century day of play. Part of the Renaissance Festival experience is meeting and interacting with the colorful characters roaming the village, creating an interactive street theater. Musical fairies and lively woodland sprites embody childlike innocence. Close up magicians amaze and amuse. Wonderful statuary comes to life. There is even a walking tree! You can take audience with the Queen or mingle with peasants who endlessly proclaim… “Hip Hip Huzzah!” – all part and parcel of the festival day.
One-of-a kind attractions
In addition to the entertainment, you cannot miss the birds of prey exhibition where the royal falconer will don his hunting garb and take you on a thrilling trip into the past explaining and demonstrating the use of falcons, hawks, owls and more in the ancient sport of falconry.
Listen to fascinating bits of history delivered while a hawk flies overhead in a simulated hunt displaying the unique skills that enraptured nobles long ago and made falconry the sport of kings. It is both educational and awe inspiring as you learn about the popularity of falconry in the renaissance while watching a falcon dive at over 100 miles an hour.
The Renaissance Festival wouldn’t be complete without a depiction of one of the grandest events of the time period – the popular tournament joust. Occurring three times daily, each joust is full of pomp, pageantry, action, comedy and chivalry as noble knights strap on heavy suits of armor and mount two tons of snorting steeds. With plumes waving and chain mail clanking, they take up their lances and charge at one another in tilt. Shattering lances, clashing swords, and daring deeds of bravery all collide into a realistic recreation of a joust to the death.
From gallant knights to the marvels of the vast ocean, the Lord Mayor outdoes himself once again in a bid for the Queen’s favor with a personal gift – the return of the Living Mermaids – Fairies of the Sea. These beautiful sirens frolic about in a 3,000-gallon aquarium. Children love watching the underwater flips, blown bubble hearts and splashing tails. And families can sit together atop the mermaid throne for a meet and greet photo experience.
New entertainment for the family this year includes Lady Alice of Wonderland and Lady Wendy of Neverland – visiting Fairhaven to share amazing tales of science and adventure. And kids will love watching Pirouette the Magical Dancer as she ventures out of her Musical Magic Box to dance and delight.
Action and Adventure
The Carolina Renaissance Festival is home to a most unusual collection of people powered rides and games of skill. Inspired by the joust? Try your skill with a lance on the Slider Joust challenge game. You can storm the castle in a paintball battle or try to solve the riddle of climbing Jacob’s Ladder.
Mix skillful pleasure and comic adventure by throwing tomatoes at the insulting fools locked in the stocks at Vegetable Justice. Test your skill at games like the Dragon Climbing Tower, the Archery Range, and the Maze. Fly high into the sky on the Pirate’s Assault Catapult. Take a ride on Christopher Columbus’ Voyage to the New World, the Piccolo Pony (a rocking horse bigger than an elephant), and Leonardo’s Flying Machine; a people powered amusement ride based on Di Vinci’s designs for human flight. A family favorite is Mother (and Father) Goose brought to life with their costumed ducks and geese, the petting farm, and camel rides.
Early holiday shoppers can peruse over 140 craft shops in an open-air village market which provides a diverse selection of handmade items such as pottery, jewelry, perfume, glass blown ornaments, ceramics, bath & body products, medieval costumes, hand carved candles, unique musical instruments, children’s toys, a full spectrum of clothing, and much more. Watch artisans make a masterpiece right before your eyes.
Village kitchens cook up an endless feast of bread bowl stews, steak-on-a-stake, gourmet sausages, and the festival’s famous giant roasted turkey legs. Gluten free and vegetarian options are also available. For dessert, try the fresh crepes, the cakes and cookies from the Monks Bakery, candy delights from the Chocolate Shoppe, Italian ice, gelato, and a favorite of all renaissance wanderers: a bag of cinnamon-roasted almonds.
Festival pubs offer a wide variety of craft beer, wine, champagne, ale, honey mead, soft drinks, Medieval Margaritas and all new Friar Puck’s Premium Lemonade.
So bust out your sense of good cheer, leave your cares behind, and spend a day at the wildly popular and entertaining time machine known as the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Market Place.
Advance Discount Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for kids ages 5-12; available at Harris Teeters region wide or print your own online at RenFestInfo.com. Children under 5 are always free. Tickets purchased at the gate are $1 more. Senior (60 and over) and adult Military discount tickets are $23 at the gate. Parking is free courtesy of Harris Teeter.
For more information visit Carolina.RenFestInfo.com