CROWNSVILLE — For nine weekends each year, the Maryland Renaissance Festival brings the spirit of the Renaissance to Crownsville, where families and friends can enjoy period entertainment, authentic food and drink and handcrafted artistry.
Located just outside of Annapolis, the Village of Revel Grove, home to the Renaissance Festival, is a unique outdoor entertainment venue that will come alive on Aug. 24 to host thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Along the winding wooded paths of Revel Grove lie pubs, gift shops, theatres, children’s play areas and dozens upon dozens of fine food stands. Some of the portable fair fare you’ll find are enormous smoked turkey legs, steak on a stake, chicken on a lance and mac and cheese on a stick. There’s a theme here.
More than 100 artisans will be on hand to sell their handmade jewelry, leather goods, pottery, swords, artwork, musical instruments and, of course, medieval costumes. You’ll find that many fair-goers are clad in full Renaissance regalia, but if you don’t want to commit to purchasing an outfit fit for a king or queen, there are costume rentals available at the festival.
All along the village, guests will be entertained by singers, dancers, musicians and other roving performers. Shows include archery demonstrations, balancing acts, comedians, jugglers, knife throwers, contortionists, sword swallowers, swordfighters, jousters, magicians and stilt walkers.
Each year, the Renaissance Festival has a storyline. This year, the year is 1520 in Revel Grove, located in Oxfordshire, England. King Henry VIII with his Queen, Katherine of Aragon, and their royal court visit the village as part of their annual summer tour. Joining the English Court are visitors from Italy, and friendly — and not so friendly — competition develops between the English and Italian courtiers.
The court is also celebrating the recent marriage of Sir William Carey and Mary Boleyn (of whom the King is very fond). In the village, a new mayor has been appointed, Francis Yaxley, who promptly names his son Walter the new sheriff. Feuding families, the Hatfields and the McCoys threaten to ruin the royal visit. It is up to the mayor and the sheriff to keep the peace and ensure an enjoyable Harvest Festival for all.
The Maryland Renaissance Festival is open weekends from Aug. 24 through Oct. 20, and on Labor Day, Sept. 2. Here are some highlights of the nine weeks:
Aug. 24 and 25: Children’s Weekend All kids 11 and under will be admitted free. Special guest Pumpkin Theatre of Baltimore will perform their show, Three Little Tales. Performers tell the stories of The Three Little Pigs, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears and the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Sept. 2nd: Seniors Day On Labor Day Monday all seniors 62 and older will be admitted free. During Labor day weekend, the Ballet Theatre of Maryland will perform Pirates, which brings to life an array of pirates, settlers and natives in the 17th Century Colonial America. Intrigue, sword fights and lost treasure come together through the power of dance to tell a comedic tale the whole family will enjoy.
Sept. 7 and 8: Pirate Weekend Ahoy, Matey! Enjoy the music of The Pyrates Royale, The Rambling Sailors and more. All are encouraged to dress in their pirate best.
Sept. 14: An American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation day Selected shows will be ASL interpreted. The listing of the shows interpreted will be available on the entertainment schedule on the Rennfest.com website.
Sept. 21 and 22: Scottish Celebration This weekend will feature North Sea Gas, one of Scotland’s most popular folk bands, and the Wallace band, named after the Scottish historical hero William Wallace. Celebrating their first appearance at the Festival, this band from from Moscow is legendary in the Russian folk-rock scene.
Sept. 28 and 29: Special Musical Guests from the UK. The Blackfriars stage will feature the Mediaeval Baebes, a top selling vocal ensemble from the UK and Welsh singer Deborah Rose in her U.S. premiere, along with Rickie Simpkins, who has toured extensively with Emmylou Harris since 2007.
Oct. 5 and 6: Irish Celebration! Special guest performers include the celtic rock band Barleyjuice and, in their first appearance at the festival, The Shamrogues, who like to involve their audience in a fun, lively show of songs and stories of Ireland.
Oct. 13: An ASL interpretation day.
Oct. 19 and 20: Jousting Competition While jousting takes place on every day of the festival, on this special weekend knights from across the country join the Free Lancers jousting company in a special competition to determine who is the greatest knight in the land.