Looking for an incredible way to spend your weekend? Then head to Maryland’s Renaissance Festival!
The Festival (located in Crownsville, Maryland) provides an amazing amount of entertainment. Jousting, chariot fights, and Shakespearean theater. Axe throwing contests, glass blowing demonstrations, and feats of strength.
And the food! Oh, the food. Chicken on a lance, steak on a stake, turkey legs, and funnel fries are just some of the delicious delights that await you.
Let’s not forget about the fun people watching. Medieval costumes abound. And interestingly, just about every other costume type!
You don’t want to miss this event. To make the most of your visit to the Festival, follow my tips below.
Special thanks to my friend Megan for introducing me to this awesome event and lending her expertise!
1. Be flexible with your plans
The Renaissance Festival is a mostly outdoor event. That means rainy, windy, cold, or hot days can really affect your plans.
The Festival is open on Saturdays and Sundays from late August through mid-October, plus Labor Day. I recommend identifying at least a couple of weekends during that time when you can visit. Then you can check the weather leading up to those weekends to see if the weather looks good.
2. Buy your tickets a day or two in advance
Admission tickets can sell out during nice days at the Festival. So you don’t want to wait until the day you’re visiting to buy your tickets.
However, because there are no refunds or rainchecks, I don’t recommend buying your tickets too far in advance.
Once you’ve confirmed the weather will be good (or at least good enough!) for the day you’d like to visit, buy your ticket a day or two in advance of your visit.
3. Bring cash with you
Food, beverage, and game vendors at the Renaissance Festival only take cash. While there are ATMs at the Festival, the lines can be extremely long.
Plan ahead and bring cash with you.
4. Break-out your medieval garb
Many Festival-goers dress up in Renaissance or medieval-style attire. Chain mail, corsets, and robes are frequent sights at the Festival. Elf ears and fairy wings add a magical touch to some costumes.
If you don’t own a costume, never fear – you can either rent or buy a costume at the Festival. But if medieval attire isn’t your thing, you’ll be perfectly fine in regular street clothes. Costumes are not required.
Next year, I’m definitely dressing up in costume. I can’t wait.
5. Confirm the theme for the day
There are often special theme weekends for the Festival. When we visited, the theme was “Pirates.” In addition to the Renaissance and medieval-style attire, there were some incredible Jack Sparrow costumes. When you buy your ticket in advance, the purchase screen will tell you the theme for the weekend. It’s just another interesting detail that makes the Renaissance Festival even more fun!
6. Choose your footwear carefully
The Renaissance Festival is in a wooded area. It makes for a beautiful scene. It also makes for uneven ground from tree roots and rocks, plus a couple of steep hills. The paths aren’t pathed or mulched, so rain makes them muddy and dry weather makes them dusty. I recommend wearing sturdy athletic shoes or even hiking shoes for the most comfort.
7. Plan on walking a lot
The Renaissance Festival covers a lot of area, with an amazing number of food vendors, costume shops, and amphitheaters. Because it covers such a large area, plan on doing a lot of walking. In addition to wearing shoes that can handle the wooded area, here are a couple things I recommend to improve your comfort:
- Leave the big backpacks and purses at home. Heavy bags get in the way and make you uncomfortable. Bring a lightweight backpack instead.
- Wear clothes that handle sweat well. Because the Renaissance Festival is held late August through mid-October, anticipate that most days will be warm. If you’re not wearing a costume, I recommend a breathable, long-sleeved shirt (for added protection from the sun) and lightweight shorts or pants.
8. Anticipate crowds
The Festival attracts over 300,000 people every year. That’s a lot of people in just a few weekends. Expect crowds on all days, but especially on the weekends with nice weather.
9. Expect some rowdiness
While the Festival is family-friendly, you should anticipate some rowdiness. You may hear swearing and shouting and see some revealing costumes.
10. Map out your entertainment
The Festival covers 27 acres and there is a lot to see on ten different stages. For those reasons, it’s helpful to decide what performances you want to see and find out where they’re located.
When you arrive, you’ll receive a brochure with a map that shows the Festival grounds and a list of the performances for that day.
Once you get your brochure, I recommend looking it over to decide what performances you want to see, when they’ll be happening, and where they’re located on the map. This will help you map out your general plan for the day and prevent you from missing the performances you want to see.
11. Leave some things at home
The Festival doesn’t allow pets (aside from service animals) and no real or costume weapons are permitted.
You are allowed to bring in one sealed water bottle, but no other beverages. You can also bring in food, but no coolers.
12. You can get married
My last tip is extremely important – if you’re getting ready to tie the knot, the Renaissance Festival has you covered! For a mere $100, you can reserve the wedding chapel. You and your guests must be “properly costumed”, which I’m sure will make for some excellent wedding photos!