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


Arts District

The Big Baltimore Playlist: April 2019

The top five local songs you should download right now.

Arts District

Arts Community Reflects on What The Windup Space Has Meant to Baltimore

Inclusive arts venue in Station North will close its doors on June 1.

The Chatter

Bowling Alley Returns to Shake & Bake in Latest Renovation

Ex-officio mayor Jack Young, former Colt Glenn Doughty, and others on hand to announce center’s mid-April opening.


The Chatter

Northwest Baltimore Native Dimitrius Graham Reflects on American Idol Experience

Graham turned heads with operatic arrangements and self-expression on stage.

Arts & Culture

Art/Life Balance

Cara Ober is the woman behind the longest running arts and culture magazine in the city.

MaxSpace

It’s Maryland Film Festival Time!

Here are some reviews to get you started.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Baltimore Magazine Wins Three CRMA Awards: Publication takes home honors for editorial, design, and digital at the annual industry awards.

Gender-Neutral Bathroom Bill Unanimously Passes City Hearing: Supported by transgender activists and Mayor’s LGBTQ Commission, legislation could be signed during next month’s Pride Weekend.

Warts and All, Pimlico Race Course is Venue for Enduring Memories: As we know by now, it might be one of the last times party buzz, betting, and horse racing come to Park Heights.

CookHouse to Replace B. Bistro and Bring European Fare to Bolton Hill: The new spot will debut this fall, offering an all-day menu, full bar, and takeout service.

Arts Community Reflects on What The Windup Space Has Meant to Baltimore: Inclusive arts venue in Station North will close its doors on June 1.