The Renaissance Faire Is in Town!

Where can you go to get transported to the time of princesses and knights and have a whole lot of fun too? The Renaissance Faire, of course! If you've never been to a Faire before, you should definitely go at least once. It's a great opportunity to get out of the house and meet other fantasy aficionados while also having fun with history. Today I attended the opening weekend of The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Irwindale, California. It was my second time attending this particular Faire. They had many of the same booths, activities, and shows that I assume come back every year. This time, instead of wearing my generic Renaissance dress that I made in high school, I decided to cosplay with my husband as the Fairytale Designer versions of Ariel and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid.


It was particularly fun to cosplay during opening weekend because most people save their character costumes for theme weekends. We got a lot of attention from fans of the movie who recognized us.  It was great to have a Prince Eric with me because when I wore this Ariel dress by myself in the past, many people confused me with Anna from Frozen, who wears a similar dress. True fans know that Ariel wore it first! If you ever plan on wearing this version of Ariel's dress to an event, be prepared for people who are less familiar with Disney movies to confuse you with Anna. The costumed staff at the Faire who recognized us acknowledged our costumes by singing songs from The Little Mermaid such as "Kiss the Girl" and "Under the Sea." If you live in the area and want to wear your favorite costume to the Renaissance Faire this year, a good weekend to go is the 21st or 22nd of April because they are having a fan convention theme that weekend called "RennCon."

The staff behind the Renaissance Faires are the true reason they are so much fun. They don't just blend into the background with their gorgeous costumes to create the historical setting. Instead, they directly interact with all of their visitors to make them feel as though they are part of the experience. They are masters of improv, making everyone feel like they are truly living in an era long past and having the time of their lives doing so. For instance, when we witnessed the "mayor" of the Renaissance Faire playing a giant game of Jenga using a sword to move the blocks, his jester was running around telling everyone how amazing and talented his master was and how he could only wish to be as skilled with a sword. When we were eating lunch, I was approached by a missionary with a baby Satan doll who asked me if I was English or French. Curious about her reaction, I told her I'm Jewish, and she said not to tell too many people that because of the way Jews were regarded at the time. My husband and I later got yelled at by two of Queen Elizabeth's disciples for "canoodling" because we were holding hands. They said that if we didn't stop, we'd be forced to have an embarrassing marriage ceremony in front of the queen herself.


It is customary to have royalty present at all Renaissance Faires. Queen Elizabeth is the featured queen at this particular Faire, though she was played by a different actress this year than the last time I attended. Most of my familiarity with Queen Elizabeth comes from the final season of the CW's Reign, where she was portrayed as a morally gray monarch who struggles to maintain her the respect of her people due to not having a husband. The queen is carried into the Faire in a portable throne by four footmen, after which she hosts a show where she greets her subjects, oversees a joust, holds a tea, and walks around enjoying the festivities in between. Everyone bows and shouts "All hail the queen!" when she walks by. At one point, we were pulled into a court-style line dance that she oversaw.


 My favorite activity at the Renaissance Faire is a massive swing lined with flowers that two strong men push high into the air. For most people, the biggest selling point is the jousting. The jousts at the Renaissance Faire are pretty similar to the ones at Medieval Times except that they are performed at an outdoor arena instead of indoors. Personally, I get bored pretty quickly when it comes to jousts. There's a very long amount of preparation and buildup, but the actual joust part only takes a few seconds. Two knights run at each other with lances and try to knock out the other's shield. Since I don't know any of the knights personally, it makes little difference to me which one wins, but it is interesting that it's one of the oldest sports in existence. These jousts were hosted by a countess who also rode a horse and wore a beautiful and unique costume. The Renaissance Faire has several jousts throughout the day, and they sell the broken shields afterward. There were also some swordplay demonstrations in a different area, which I found more interesting.


If you want to experience an interactive trip to the past with a touch of fantasy, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire might be just the thing for you. The downside is that it's completely outdoors, so it can involve a lot of walking and get very hot. It's very important to wear lots of sunscreen and stay hydrated. If you want a similar experience without all the sun and walking, check out the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade, an interactive fantasy experience that takes place at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles every year. Unlike the Renaissance Faire, the Labyrinth requires all attendees to wear a costume, so be sure to put your best cosplay foot forward. I definitely recommend cosplaying for the Renaissance Faire too, though. It's way more fun to interact with the staff if you also dress the part.

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