article





American Idyll

Leveling up at the magical Maryland Renaissance Festival.

Kate Livie - August 2018

American Idyll

Leveling up at the magical Maryland Renaissance Festival.

Kate Livie - August 2018


At the scorching end of summer, a curious transformation happens at a field in Crownsville. Thousands of ordinary people arrive at the otherwise unremarkable pasture, pop their trunks, and transform into a fantastic spectrum of heroes, heroines, and supernatural creatures. This is the magic of the Maryland Renaissance Festival—every year, from August through October, you can be whoever, and whatever, you want to be.

The 41-year-old “Renn Fest” is an escape into a fleeting fantasy world of bawdiness with a heavy dollop of medieval make-believe. The 27-acre village is a self-consciousness-free zone where earnest attendees sing along, sip mugs of mead, and merrily wave their steaks-on-a-stake in the sweltering air. Starting this weekend, liberate ye inner lord or lady and revel in one of the most wonderfully weird events that Maryland has to offer.

renn-fest-full.jpg#asset:64960

Illustration by Michael Byers

Embrace the Eccentric
Cheer for your favorite knight during the jousting competition. Observe the acrobats as they perform daring stunts at the Wheel of Death. Sigh as Romeo’s Juliet dies during a Baltimore Shakespeare Factory play. Throw axes. Throw knives. Throw softballs at targets until the heckling wench falls in the drink. Get your palm read. Flirt with someone who really committed to chainmail. But most importantly, give in to the sheer absurdity of it all.

Look Past the Turkey Legs
While turkey legs might be all the rage, follow your gut to the real-deal smorgasbord of fried deliciousness at White Stag Grove, where a smattering of Scotch eggs, mac-and-cheese stakes, and funnel cake fries make a fine feast. There are also ample suds and oyster shooters at O’Shucks Pub near Valley Meade, plus craft brews, mead, and cider at the Wine Pavilion near the Royal Stage.

When in Doubt, Don’t Chicken Out
Renn Fest is one of the few places where you can truly let your freak flag fly. For proper attire, hit up Etsy, your local craft store, or the festival itself. Onsite costume rentals cost $60 or less, but to truly live out your dreams of being a pirate princess or a dragon-slayer, there’s plenty to buy: snag a dress from Moresca, hit up the hat selection at Tall Toad, or grab Game of Thrones-worthy leather goods at Miles Tonne.

Be In The Know
Tickets are cheaper from Aug. 25-Sept. 9 (read: hotter but less crowded): $8 for children and $19 for adults, compared to $11 and $26 from Sept. 15-Oct. 21. The parking lot usually fills up by noon, so get there early to grab a spot or wait until the crowds thin out later in the day. Check out the Renn Fest’s events calendar for themed weekends such as Celtic Celebration, Romance Weekend, and Shakespeare Weekend.





You May Also Like


MaxSpace

My Favorite Films of 2018

This year, the movies pushed back.

Arts District

Everyman Celebrates The Vital Importance of 'The Importance of Being Earnest'

The local company's candy-colored version of the Oscar Wilde classic is a delight from beginning to end.

Arts District

Black Nativity Brings Message of Hope to the Motor House

All-black cast delivers powerful songs from classic Langston Hughes work.


MaxSpace

Movie Review: The Favourite

Can there be a three-way tie for Best Actress?

MaxSpace

Goodbye FilmStruck, Hello Kanopy!

Free movie streaming platform comes to the Enoch Pratt Free Library

Arts & Culture

Marching Orders

The Dunbar High School marching band fosters a community of musicians.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Talk Shop: B. Willow, Radcliffe Jewelers, and Cohen’s Clothier: The latest style and shopping news in Baltimore.

Four Reasons Maryland Men’s Basketball Is So Hot Right Now: The Terps are back in the national Top 25. It’s time to start paying attention.

Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes Gets Married in LA: Goldman's mentor, chef Cindy Wolf, was among the many guests at the California ceremony.

Why Did Senator Kamala Harris Choose Baltimore for Campaign Headquarters?: Former California Attorney General becomes the fourth woman to enter the 2020 presidential race.

Drink Trends to Look Out For in 2019: From cannabis-infused drinks to entirely new sub-categories, this should be a wild year for craft beverages.