Florida is full of fascinating festivals, but if you have yet to behold the glory of Renaissance festivals, which celebrate the intriguing culture of Medieval Europe, thou art in for a treat. Enthusiasts dress up in maiden and sire apparel, seriously convincing actors roam the pathways, performers like to crack a bawdy joke or two while they display skills from back in the day, and you can feel like a villager while pilfering through market goods made from talented artisans. Food is typically authentic, hearty and fit for a king. So toss in your jerkins and surcoats and make your way through Florida’s best Medieval throwdowns.
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Gulf Coast Renaissance Faire
Pirate and Renaissance festivals kind of go hand-in-hand, and this one is both. Themed around 16th century Gulf Coast, the fair takes place barely over the Florida border, in Robertsdale, Alabama, the third week in November. Stages come alive with age-old comedy, dragon slayers and skilled performers that can juggle, and even whip up a little magic. Woven through the entertainment platforms are vendor booths peddling Renaissance crafts and goodies. Try your hand at axe throwing and archery or attend the jousting event.
Palm Beach Renaissance Festival
The two-day event takes place at the Kelsey Theatre, in June, for two days only. While a smaller festival, it’s filled with vendors offering handcrafted items, and an assortment of delicious food trucks. I don’t know about you, but any opportunity to hit up some food truck grub sounds like a good time.
Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire
Located an hour north of Orlando in Tavares, the Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire is hosted two weekends in November. With an undeniably authentic feel, the dusty roads lined with artisan shops, and highly committed actors really into their character elevate the entire experience. Turkey legs are tender with crispy skin on the exterior, and other unique food finds include mac and cheese cones and fried Scottish eggs. Fairies will skip around blowing glitter on your little princess and the kids will be wowed by fire eaters.
Sarasota Medieval Fair
Performances are dotted through the fairgrounds, with displays of impressive acrobatics and hilarious comedy at the wenches show. Horses and other animals trot about, typically decked out in time period accurate garments, and the smell of smoked meat floats through the air. Visitors can ride jousting horses and test their skills among primitive games. Food is limited compared to some festivals, however extremely high quality. Sirloin tips with mashed potatoes are where it’s at. Sarasota Medieval Fair rolls around in November and December, so even St. Nikolaus will be there.
Florida Renaissance Festival
The Florida Renaissance Festival is a huge deal and takes place in Deerfield Beach’s Quiet Waters Park from February to March. Purchase some Artisan garb and participate in an outlandish pub crawl with guides that are “both Professional Storytellers and World-Class Drinkers”. A mountainous list of food, from many parts of the world, including Asia, Italy and England can be found at various booths. But if you’re here for the authentic grub like strudel, jerky, fish and chips and turkey legs – you’re in luck! Be sure to wash it down with mead or cider. Rides are even made to suit the time period, so hop on the man-powered carousel, maybe before you eat.
Bay Area Renaissance Festival
Tampa kicks off their celebration in February, which also trails through March. A European village with a genuine marketplace and entertainment stage are the core attractions, while the interactive characters tie it all together. The Bay Area Renaissance has a few unique attractions up their sleeve that separate them from many others, like the otherworldly Unicorn Realm with unicorn themed everything (you just have to see it for yourself, trust us!) Pickle jousting is pretty out of the box too. Themed weekends featuring Highland games, pet days and an extensive world market keep things fresh and exciting.
Camelot Days Medieval Festival
Hollywood, Florida hosts their bash over three weekends in November at TY Park. Enjoy watching the living chess game and exploring the artist market full of intricate, unusual finds to remind you of the past. Guests can participate in the costume contest every day, where all details of your renaissance or pirate themed get up will be taken into consideration. A prize will be bestowed upon each winner.
Hoggetown Medieval Faire
The Hoggetown Medieval Faire takes place at the Alachua County Fairgrounds in Gainesville, on various dates through January and February. Nine stages light up all day with old-world magic routines and knife throwing. Shop for jewelry, wood carved creations and special items at the huge marketplace. Impressive selections are available at the food court such as kettle corn, blooming onions, fish n chips, roasted nuts, lamb and turkey legs, along with donuts and organic coffee fit for a king.