11 Best Renaissance Festivals in US: Journey Through Time

October 10, 2023 4 min read

Smilling women at Renaissance Festival


From drinking old-fashioned mead to dressing up like an elaborate Period-era princess, there’s nothing better than a good ‘ole Renaissance fair. And while Renaissance fairs do center around celebrating European fashion and customs from the 14th-17th century, the United States actually has some of the best and biggest Renaissance festivals in the world - and US Renaissance festivals are known for pulling out all the stops.

So, from Arizona to New York, here’s a list of Renaissance fairs in the US to add to your bucket list.


New York Renaissance Fair

Set in Tuxedo, New York, this Renaissance Fair celebrates the Elizabethan Era, and attendees can enjoy everything from knife-throwing spectacles and musical performances, to flaming whips and mounted jousting tournaments. With previous themes including Time Travel and Pirates, this is the perfect spot to hit if you’re on the East Coast and want to channel your inner medieval mistress.


Maryland Renaissance Fair

Another East Coast favorite, Maryland’s Renaissance Fair takes place in the 27-acre woods in Crownsland, and is one of the state’s most popular annual outdoor events. Whether you want to don your favorite Renaissance dress or get creative with something unique, attendees in Crownsland can enjoy a range of activities and events, including a jousting arena with 3000 seats, gorgeous artisan crafts and the fair’s famous annual “Storyline”.


Arizona Renaissance Fair

Perhaps one of the largest renaissance festival events in the US, Arizona’s Ren Faire takes place in sunny Gold Canyon, with jousting tournaments, arts and crafts corners, and the festival’s legendary 5-course pirate-themed feast (aka the “Pleasure Feast”) to enjoy. Oh and did we mention that the festival takes place in a 50-acre Renaissance-themed park, complete with themes including Wizards and Warlocks, Battle of the Bards, and Mythical Creatures?


Sherwood Forest Fair

Set in McDade, Texas, Sherwood Forest Fair celebrates the legendary Robin Hood and his band of merry men, making for something a little different and unique if you’re in the Lone Star State. With over 40 performances, hundreds of artisans selling their local specialties, and the fair’s famous (and educational) Hawk Walk, this festival is a perfect day out for all the family. And for those with little ones in tow, Sherwood Forest Fair even hosts a tea party for kids - so no need to leave them with the babysitter!


The Medieval Fair of Norman

Want to attend a Renaissance festival but don’t have the budget? Enter The Medieval Fair of Norman, held annually in Norman, Oklahoma, and one of the only free Renaissance fairs in the country. With a lively line-up of jesters, knights, minstrels, and artisans, the fair offers an immersive experience of medieval life, where attendees can enjoy jousting tournaments and live-action role-playing to musical acts and theatrical plays of yore.


Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Women at Renaissance Festivals in the US

Another festival in the Lone Star State, Scarborough Renaissance Festival is a must-see; held south of Dallas in Waxahachie, attendees are treated to 200 live performances over the course of the weekend, from musical acts to swordplay, a Royal fireworks display and stand up comedy. With an impressive range of vendors selling crafts, food, and even medieval weapons, it’s almost impossible to leave Waxahachie empty-handed.


Bristol Renaissance Faire

Taking place in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Bristol Renaissance Fair offers ultimate immersion, with axe-throwing, archery, and sword-fighting all on offer for attendees. Bristol’s festival is also kid-friendly, with horse riding opportunities and children’s activities available throughout the weekend.


Minnesota Renaissance Festival

With a history spanning over 50 years, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, Minnesota is one of the largest fairs in the US, with over 300,000 guests attending the festivities every year. And it’s not hard to see why; attendees get to enjoy a royal ale fest, armored jousting, belly dancers and more - what’s not to love?


Ohio Renaissance Festival

Another of the largest Renaissance festival events in the US, Ohio’s fair takes place in Waynesville, on a 30-acre English village set-up that welcomes over 200,000 attendees every year at their annual event. With 17 stages, 100 performances and The Kamikaze Fireflies’ standup comedy show, you’ll never get bored - and if you do, simply head on over to the vendor’s section, where you’ll find delicious food, hair braiding, and even weaponry on sale.


Carolina Renaissance Festival

Heading over to Huntersville, North Carolina, the Carolina Renaissance Festival is held every autumn and has everything you’d ever looked for in an immersive, medieval event. From wandering characters eager to tell you lore, to living mermaids in underwater homes, this fantastical fair is one of the most unique in the US.


Texas Renaissance Festival

If you’re more in the mood for a winter festival, Texas’ Renaissance Festival - held in Todd Mission - might have everything you’re looking for: taking place in October through December, this fair welcomes over 500,000 attendees every year, with themed weekends including Oktoberfest, All Hallows Eve and Highland Fling.



How many Renaissance festivals are there?

There are over 200 Renaissance festivals held annually in the United States alone. These events vary in size and theme, with large-scale fairs attracting thousands and smaller gatherings attracting more local crowds.


What to wear to a Renaissance fair?

If you’re stuck on what to wear to a Renaissance fair, simply opt for period-appropriate attire such as corsets, peasant blouses, tunics, cloaks, and breeches. Footwear like leather boots or moccasins are ideal, and can be paired with accessories like leather pouches, hats, and jewelry to enhance the look. However, most fairs welcome all, so comfortable modern attire is also acceptable.


How long does a Renaissance fair last?

A typical renaissance fair usually spans a weekend, but larger events can last for several weeks, taking place over multiple consecutive weekends. It's best to check the specific schedule of the fair you plan to attend for exact durations.