How to Travel Through Time: Inside Maryland's Renaissance Festival
It’s easy to poke fun at the tropes of an American Renaissance Faire: the garish costumes, the flawed British accents infused with hints of a Southern drawl, the fact that you can’t even ask where the bathroom is without someone calling you “M’lord.”
But these festivals deserve praise — not only for their endearing, home-grown creativity but for being a sanctuary for all who attend. Renaissance Faires are familial atmospheres where people of so many walks of life are accepted- no questions asked. The event hinges on everyone working together to imagine a world where, despite their differences, everyone plays an important part.
It’s an environment where the troubles of the real world are left behind at the gate, and although there are tribes within its walls (fairies, knights, royalty, craftsmen), all the players cooperate to form one, egalitarian narrative.
Related:The Best Things to Do in September Across the U.S.
While it seems strange to have to mentally transport ourselves to a more brutal age in history to channel empathy in the modern day, it’s still refreshing. Perhaps it has to do with stepping out of your comfort zone and into a pair of pantaloons.
The parking lot is where the modern and medieval converge.
One of the king's men greets visitors.
Left: A boy rides triumphantly on his steed. Right: An evil knight sets his eyes on the target during a jousting match.
The Maryland Sport
Jousting erupts in the festival's main arena. It's the offical state sport of Maryland after all.
Costumes & Consequence
Left: A knight prepares for battle. Right: The stocks hold attendees for a variety of offenses.
Knives for sale must be kept in their packages until guests return to the real world.
The crowd receieves a king's welcome at the start of each new day.
A brave knight gets cheered on by the crowd before a jousting match.
Beast & Artisan
Left: At the Faire, attendees are encouraged to wear a wide gamut of creative costumes- or lack thereof. Right: An artisan fine-tunes a glass sculpture on the Faire's main thoroughfare.
Lady Visa & Master of the Card
The Faire embraces some aspects of the modern day.
Left: Fairies stop for a drink. Right: An older fairie entertains her younger comrades.
Attendees are greeted with pomp and circumstance at the beginning of each day.
Left: A sage elf watches a medieval dance. Right: Only the bravest knights will qualify to joust. The rest are just spectators.
Creatures of the Light
Attendees at the Faire are like a family, you never know when you'll run into a friendly face.
Not All Smoke & Mirrors
Left: A blacksmith demonstrates his process. Right: Some modern technology makes its way through the festival gates.
Cuisine Du Jour
Tukey legs are the main course on the menu. You have to get at least one.
Left: Attendees spare no details in their costumes- from their heads to their toes. Right: The Faire is a perfectly acceptable time to listen to that little devil on your shoulder.
At the Eco Adventures booth, you can get your picture with a host of mythical beasts.
Attendees saunter past one of the Faire's many castles.
A Fairy, Giant and an Elf
Left: An infant fairie rests in the arms of a gentle giant. Right: An elf flaunts her small pet.