Top 10 Things to Know About the Carolina Renaissance Festival

By: Lauren Livesay


Fall4CLT at the Carolina Renaissance Festival

One of the most popular Fall traditions in Charlotte is the Carolina Renaissance Festival.  Now in its 23rd successful year, the festival is open each Saturday and Sunday from October 1st through November 20th.  

The grounds are open rain or shine and provide a plethora of entertainment to local residents and those in town for the weekend.  Here are the top 10 things you need to know before heading out.

1) You Can Purchase Tickets in Advance or Upon Arrival

Tickets can be purchased at local Harris Teeter stores or online.  As a bonus, you save $1.  There are season tickets and group discounts for the “regulars.” You can also purchase at the Ticket Office.  However, if you wait to purchase on the day of, be prepared to wait in line for a few minutes.

2) Parking is Free

You don’t hear that phrase very often these days, but festival sponsor Harris Teeter provides that to everyone in attendance.  The staff at the festival will help direct you onto the property and get you parked quickly and safely at no cost.  

If only they could help you find your car after a long day…or was that just me?

3) Come Hungry

There is so much great food available at the Ren Fest.  The turkey leg is the most popular item, but you can also get steak on a stick, roasted corn, brats, pizza, bread bowls, and more.  If you are looking for a lighter snack, they have a variety of roasted nuts, pretzels, and baked goods for sale.  Got a sweet tooth?  No problem, there are plenty of dessert options including chocolate shops and gelato stands.

4) It Is Booze Friendly

If you are hoping to a do a little day drinking, they have that covered for you, too.  From craft beers to mimosas, the choice is yours.  You can even get a Medieval Margarita.  In case you are wondering, it is not BYOB.  The festival may be set in the 16th century, but they follow North Carolina alcohol laws which means no sales before noon on Sunday.  For the designated drivers, under 21 crowd, and non-drinkers, there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available as well.

5) You Will Be Entertained

The festival has over ten stages with activities occurring each weekend.  While some are family friendly, the performers tend to work in subtle PG-13 adult humor.  To whom that may concern, the festival map clearly marks those performances with an “LC” for Loose Cannon.  The actors, singers, dancers, musicians, and jousters work hard with multiple performances at each stage as well as plenty of roaming shows.

6) Dress to Impress

Fashion is a key component at the festival.  Many guests arrive in their Medieval best, but you also have the option to rent or buy outfits from numerous vendors.  They have you covered from head to toe with hair wraps, jewelry, and boots.  If you also want to dress up your home, they sell candles, blown glass, and wall décor.

7) You Will Get Your Steps In

The festival is spread out over 25 acres, so you can easily burn off those calories from all the food and drinks consumed.  For those looking for a little more hands-on activity, you can rock climb, throw stars and axes, practice archery, and test your strength.

There are some rides for the little kids (and the big kids who still know how to have fun).

8) You Can Have Your Important Event Here

The Renaissance Festival has a semi-private space that you can rent for your next shindig.  In addition, you can even get married at the festival.  Their website lists three different package options for the ultimate 16th Century wedding.

9) Bring Some Cash

The price of admission covers all of the entertaining shows and some serious people watching, but everything else costs money.  Luckily, they have numerous ATMs on-site.  Pretty sure those didn’t exist in the Medieval Times?

10) Memories Will Be Made

There is so much to see and do in one day at the Carolina Renaissance Festival.  Where else can you ride a camel, get your fortune read, and have your face painted while your family and friends take photos to help you remember the experience?  

Whether you choose to stand back and watch or participate in the interactive options, you will be surrounded by people with the same agenda:  to have fun.

The Carolina Renaissance Festival is only open for a few weekends each fall, but it is definitely a must see for most Charlotteans.  Plan your day trip soon and enjoy one of the longest running traditions in town.

Written by Lauren Livesay | @naivelyconfident

Event planner, cooking enthusiast, and lover of cheap wine