Arts & Culture

The Maryland Renaissance Festival is Back: Here are Five Performances Not to Miss

The annual tradition returns with a lineup of new and familiar entertainment.

Hear ye, hear ye: The Maryland Renaissance Festival is officially back this season—running weekends through Oct. 24—after being cancelled due to COVID-19 last year. 

“We are thrilled to open the gates to Revel Grove once more,” Carolyn Spedden, the festival’s arts and entertainment director, says of its fictional village. Face coverings are not mandatory, but guests who are not fully vaccinated are urged to wear a mask. Hand sanitizer will also be readily available, according to the festival’s safety protocols.

The time-honored celebration of medieval mirth in Crownsville features jousting demonstrations, 140 artisans selling everything from to fantasy prints to flower crowns, and 42 food and drink stations—where you can find the famous turkey legs and pretty much any snack imaginable served on a stick. (Think everything from barbecue pork chops and mac and cheese to frozen bananas and Key Lime pie.)

Though every aspect of the fair is meant to transport attendees to 16th-century England, perhaps the best way to get the full experience is by attending one of the many performances honoring the time period. This year, guests are once again invited to travel back in time to 1534 Oxfordshire to welcome King Henry VIII to Revel Grove with fellow villagers and reigning mayor, Sir Richard Mondes. The entertainment lineup—featuring more than 200 roving performers—includes Shakespeare plays, juggling, dancing, storytelling, and musical performances. 

“What makes the festival such a great venue to visit is there is truly something for everyone,” Spedden says.

With so much going on each weekend, it can be daunting to plan your trip—which is why we’ve narrowed down some can’t-miss performances this year. Grab your corsets and capes, and be on the lookout for these recurring showcases throughout the fall: 

Michelle & Her Magic Poodles
This family-friendly act highlights talented pups doing hoop tricks, fetching and retrieving, and dancing. The poodles are trained and instructed by their owner, Michelle, who will also teach about animal awareness, responsible dog ownership, and safety. 8/28-10/3

Death Scenes with NoBeard and Gwendolyn
If you’ve been to the festival before, you might remember Gwendolyn and NoBeard the Pirate, who are famous festival performers. This year, they’re bringing guests a new show where they will be reenacting Shakespeare’s death scenes with comedy and combat.

Polly Pirates Palooza
Grace, Jack, and Flora are a swash-buckling trio called “The Crimson Pirates” that will be performing on the Gatehouse Stage three times a day. This year, they will transport you to the high seas with pirate stories, sock puppets, and sword-fighting. 10/2-10/24

This troupe presents brief scenes from Shakespeare’s plays all throughout the village of Revel Grove. They’ve added 20 new scenes for the 2021 festival, and if you visit customer service, you can grab a Streetspeare bingo card and try to mark off all the scenes you see while strolling the grounds. 

Chaste Treasure
Chaste Treasure is a trio of upper class ladies who will be performing drinking songs, sea shanties, and folk tunes at the pubs throughout Revel Grove. The award-winning a cappella group is also quite comical, so get ready to sing and laugh along. 8/28-9/12