Day-tripping the PA Renaissance Faire: Beer, turkey legs and Ultimate Jousting

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Michael Ulrich

Get your tights ready.

The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, a 13-week festival that has more than 90 shows daily, is taking place starting this weekend in Mount Hope, PA in northern Lancaster County. In its 35th year, the PA Ren Faire has a culture of its own that takes some 10,000 visitors a day back to early 16th century Europe.

The hardcore Renaissance fans (see here) will dress in period garb for the occasion, so expect lots of tights, but everyone is welcome no matter what they’re wearing. The Ren Faire does entertainment well, so expect to see shows centered around everything from birds of prey to jugglers to hypnotists.

Here’s how to plan your PA Renaissance Faire day trip:

How to Get There

You’ll have to drive in order to get to the Mount Hope Estate and Winery, and it should take you about an hour and 40 minutes. Here are the directions:

Cost

The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire is held weekends from August 1 through October 25 from 11 AM to 8 PM. Adult admission is $30.95 and child admission, ages 5 to 11, is $11.95. Parking is free, but games, rides, food, drinks and crafts have additional costs. Visit PaRenFaire.com for show times, details and coupons. (Here’s a tip: You can save $5 per ticket if you buy ’em ahead of time!)

What to do

The entertainment

The shows and the entertainment, really, is why you’ll want to head to the Faire. Among some of the best are the daily archery demonstrations, human chess and the King’s Court — a reenactment of Medieval royalty.

Jugglers, hypnotists and experts in their craft roam the acres of Ren Faire grounds, and musicians are frequently in the streets performing improvised songs and putting on shows. The Ren Faire also has “man-powered rides” for the kids.

Last but not least: There’s jousting, the crown jewel of all Renaissance-era entertainment and basically the coolest way to fight ever. If you have to pick just one event to attend at the Ren Faire, make it the Ultimate Joust that happens at the end of every day and is equipped with horses, knights, fire and actual jousting. Here’s what that looks like:

The food and drink

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YouTube

If you go to the Ren Faire and don’t eat a turkey leg, did you even go to the Ren Faire? The Ren Faire grounds have 24 different kitchens that cook up the giant legs, but also serve old-timey European favorites like ribs, pork, beef and prime rib and also offers chocolate-covered bacon. Other notable menu items: Scotch eggs, pita pockets, sausages and mac n’ cheese.

Want service? The Ren Faire also has an air-conditioned, full-service restaurant called the Anchor and Mermaid Tavern that has a variety of international dishes as well as menu options for kids and vegetarians.

Ah, but is there booze? Yes, fair traveler; a lot. Swashbuckler Brewing Company does the beers (a stout, an IPA, and red and gold ales) and Mount Hope wines are available at eight different bars around the Ren Faire complex.

The arts and shopping

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PA Renaissance Faire

Dozens of artisans and merchants offer really cool toys and trinkets that you can buy, and often watch them make there. They’ve got traditional glass blowers, blacksmiths and jewelry-makers as well as sewers who create the Renaissance-style clothing and wears for the home.

Among the other merchants and offerings are herb specialists and apothecaries who create “potions,” botanicals and specialty teas. Bring along some cash to pick up some of these authentic souvenirs – you might even be able to get a sword and shield.

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