The greatest thing is life is to find friends who are unashamed to be as weird as you or be seen with you in public.Unknown
The Renaissance Faire in central PA is apparently extremely well known and loved which we discovered when we moved up here. Somehow, it took us 5 years to actually make it to the faire, but it was such a fun day trip.
We didn’t have any plans for the weekend, so Will suggested we FINALLY go to the Renaissance Faire. It’s just a quick 25 minutes from Lancaster and they were even having a pirate themed weekend. Tickets were bought and we were off!
Side note: tickets were $32 including fees and this seemed a little expensive, but there’s SO much included with that price and the grounds were so decked out with pirate-themed decor and events that it was 100% worth it.
The Shops and Sites We Saw While Exploring
This place knows how to take a theme and run with it to the absolute max. Parking was super easy and the walk to the entrance was pleasant. Definitely expect a walk to get to the entrance since the parking is somewhat out of the way.
The entrance itself was beautiful and the second you stepped inside the gates you were immediately immersed in a decked out medieval wonderland. Most of the shops will keep the medieval theme regardless of the overarching theme of the weekend which changes every week. They got so creative with naming their shops and food stands. As a self-described pun lover, I was in heaven and kept giggling at the names.
Will and I grabbed a map but didn’t have a set plan for the day other than to explore as much as we could. We loved exploring all of the shops in between watching the scheduled shows for the day. Some venues, like the pirate ship, were reserved for the special ticket events so we couldn’t go inside, but they were really fun to see from the outside.
Other shops fully embraced the pirate theme and were completely covered in pirate decor.
Our favorite shop was the honey shop called The Crown and The Comb. If you can use honey, beeswax, or other bee-related by products out of it, you’ll find those items here. The shelving was even honeycomb shaped and I couldn’t get over how cute the shop was. I tried the chocolate honey and we both had some of the honey caramels. De-li-cious!
When we were walking around trying to find the jousting we came across a super unique row of tents selling pirate, viking, medieval, and fantasy items. It was so cool to see the creativity that went into these. Most of the items were a cosplayer’s absolute dream. It felt like being at a high-end craft fair centuries in the past.
Games, Games, and More Games!
One of the few things that were pay-to-play were the carnival games. We chose to do the feat of strength game this time with plans on doing a different one each time we visit. It was super affordable at $3 for several chances to hammer the mess out of the game. Will earned a ‘man coin’ by ringing the bell. I didn’t quite make it to the top, but still had a ton of fun.
One of the things I didn’t get to try but absolutely HAVE to next time is Battle Your Friends. You strap on armor with balloons attached to certain points. Then you’re handed a sword and you have to pop your opponent’s, I mean friend’s, balloons. I think Will was afraid I’d maim him or of my muscles. Who knows.
Trial and Dunk, A Whole Lot of Mud, Bagpipers and Jousting!
One of the major highlights of our day were the shows. The map we got only had the names, so we were just going off of what sounded fun. It would’ve been nice to know what each show was about to help our decision making, but we loved what we saw, so no complaints there!
The first show we went to involved a farcical trial and dunking. Each person on trial stood accused of ridiculous crimes and we were pleasantly surprised that while the shows were kid-friendly, they were meant for adults. The mics seemed to have some issues, but the actors quickly recovered and I only missed a few words.
My one piece of constructive criticism was that the show didn’t seem like it had a clear beginning, middle, and end and the plot seemed thrown together and a little like it was missing that thread that tied it all together. HOWEVER, the show was so much fun to watch and that’s what counts.
One stage over and perfectly timed to begin after this one ended was our favorite show. With just two characters, a backdrop, and a mud pit for a set, this show was incredible. The actors took us back into the past for a hilarious rendition of a history lesson of Richard III’s ascension to power. It was only 30 minutes, but I laughed so hard, learned a bunch, and was completely committed to watching every second.
We had a little bit of time in between shows, so we decided to just walk around and explore more. That’s when we discovered the bagpipe show. It was mostly what you’d expect from a bagpipe show, but I’ve never seen the musicians have so much fun and have a ton of stage presence. One guy was dancing all over the place which is super impressive considering how much energy just playing a bagpipe takes then add on dancing around a stage. Color me impressed.
Would a day at a Renaissance Faire be complete without jousting? No. No, it would not. The last show we went to that day was, you guessed it, the jousting show. It took us a few minutes to orient ourselves and actually find the gigantic field where we could watch it. The venue for the show was super impressive with so many seats and a massive area for the horses to run.
Random side note, the horses looked super happy and well cared for. The welfare of the animals is always a concern for me with shows and they all looked great.
The “stage” had a massive backdrop where the king and other courtly actors stayed and they even had trumpeters announce the show. The acting was 110% over the top, but it worked. Since jousting is pretty dangerous they competed to catch rings on their lances and other interesting ways to compete.
At this point, we were exhausted and decided to head back to the car. Overall we loved the faire and are already planning on going back for a differently themed weekend. Next time will be even better because we can bring the dogs with us! We tested out the faire this time without them just to make sure they wouldn’t be scared, but now we know they will LOVE it.
Have you been to a renaissance faire near you? Tell me about it in the comments below!