If you've never been to a renaissance festival, you're missing out on a chance to travel back in time to the 15th century. Where else will you experience an archaic privy, royal encampments, pirate raids and stout for breakfast?
I'm a fourteen year veteran of the renaissance festival, and here are 10 reasons why you should lace up your boots, tighten your corset and visit the local faire:
1. ROLE PLAYING: Other than Halloween, this is the only time of year you can fly your freak flag by wearing a pirate hat, fairy wings, a king's crown or a cat mask. There's no social hierarchy among the attendees of a renaissance festival----CEOs dressed as saucy wenches rub elbows with middle school janitors in royal garb. No one cares about your net worth or your upbringing. The only thing you'll be judged on at the faire is your swordsmanship and beer drinking skills.
3. GAMES: This is a great place to test your skills in axe throwing, archery and jousting. A word of warning: the chances of you winning any of these tournaments is as likely as finding the Holy Grail under the tool shed in your backyard. If you're lucky, you might win the consolation prize---- a t-shirt that reads, "I RODE ON A UNICORN HORN AT THE FAIRE!"
4. REN PORN: There's more exposed skin at the faire than you'll find on a beach in Nice. Women wear gowns with necklines down to their navels and the men in tights leave little (or a LOT) to the imagination. You'll see tattoos in places you never thought possible. The manly men in kilts will keep you guessing as to whether or not they're wearing a boulder brace or going commando under their plaid skirts.
5. LIBATIONS: If you don't have the taste buds for warm mead in a wooden mug, don't worry. There are plenty of rum runners and frozen mojitos at the faire's pub. If these wicked libations were available back in the 1400's, there would have been less wars and more napping.
6. RIDES: What sets the renaissance festival rides apart from carnival rides is the lack of electricity. When you climb into a spinning barrel or a giant, rocking horse, the ride is powered by sheer muscle. In other words, a burly man in tights will be in control of your mortality when you board the swinging pirate ship. Avoid any ride named, "The Hurlinator." This is especially important if you've consumed a large plate of sausage and peppers washed down with too many mugs of mead.
7. PEOPLE WATCHING: Where else can you find a parade of wenches, cardinals and knights? The costumes tend to alter the personalities of the people wearing them…..especially if they've added rum floaters to a few of those frozen concoctions from the pub. Just steer clear of the man dressed as a polka dotted caterpillar.
8. VENDORS: There is an abundance of arts and crafts available if you like unusual souvenirs that you'll never use again….such as a didgeridoo and a horned Viking helmet. DON'T take the didgeridoo to work to show your friends. Blowing into the large, wooden instrument to replicate the sound of an injured buffalo is NOT conducive to a happy work atmosphere……unless you buy a pipe for everyone in the office and break out into an impromptu didgeridoo concert during lunch hour.
9. SHOWS: If you're looking for Disney quality shows, you're in the wrong century. There is nothing G-rated about the festival's bawdy humor, musicals or daredevil acts. But you WILL laugh hard enough that a quick trip to a privy might be necessary. If you like men with long poles on horses, then the jousting show is for you.
10. ROMANCE: Nothing is more romantic than being surrounded by people dressed like characters from the cover of a bodice-ripping, romance novel. Love is in the air….along with alcohol and revealing clothes. Welcome to 50 Shades Of Renaissance Grey.
At the end of the day when you leave with a big bag of kettle corn tucked under your arm, you'll be thankful to return to your modern day conveniences. Nothing beats air conditioning and indoor plumbing….except maybe a slow roasted turkey leg.
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