What’s a Ren Fair?

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A Renaissance fair replicates fairs from the Renaissance period in Europe or England, with traditional entertainment, food, and merchandise. They can be historically accurate or more commercial, and attendees often dress up in period costumes. Fairs were common during the Renaissance, and modern fairs are similar. The US holds many fairs in the summer, while other countries may focus more on education.

A Renaissance fair or festival is an event that aims to replicate the look and feel of fairs during the Renaissance period in Europe or England. The fair typically includes a variety of traditional entertainment such as music, rides, dance and theater performances, and an assortment of food and drink from the era is also available. Many fairs also have an assortment of vendors offering a range of merchandise, both Renaissance-themed and otherwise.

The precise nature of a fair varies depending on who is organizing it. In some cases, a Renaissance fair is designed to be a historically accurate reenactment that provides learning opportunities for visitors. Vendors are kept strictly within period confines, and actors dress up as historical figures to mingle with the fair-goers. In other cases, a Renaissance fair can feel more like an amusement park, with more freedom in the types of products offered and a generally more commercial atmosphere.

Either way, attending a Renaissance fair can be a fun experience, especially when a wide variety of entertainment is on offer. Many people dress up in period costumes to get into the vibe of things, with most fairs focusing on the Tudor period in England, especially the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Other Renaissance fairs can have a more European, focusing on Italian or French history. In any case, the fairs celebrate the flowering of the arts and culture that marked the Renaissance period.

During the Renaissance itself, fairs were common events. They were typically located in a central area so that a range of vendors and customers could meet, and entertainments such as traveling players and clowns were common. At a fair, visitors could shoe their horses, buy kitchen supplies, exchange information about their region, and obtain a variety of other necessary goods and services, ranging from laborers to fine fabrics. A modern fair is often quite similar, although the proliferation of actors dressed as royalty might be a bit sketchy, strictly speaking.

The United States holds a proliferation of Renaissance Fairs each year, usually in the summer months so that the weather is pleasant. In other countries, fairs tend to look a little different, with more focus on education and less on commerce, and may be less plentiful in some cases. If you are interested in participating in a Renaissance fair, try searching for “Renaissance fair” and your region in your favorite search engine.

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