Renaissance Faire Fun, Frolic & FashionRenaissance Faires & medieval festivals are the closest things we have to traditional first harvest celebrations. Along with plenty of good food and drink (you must try the mead!) you'll find jousting matches, wandering troubadors, storytellers, jugglers, bellydancers, musicians, puppet shows, traditional craft demonstrations & lots of friendly folks dressed in Renaissance or Medieval style, speaking in Olde English & Irish dialects and generally having a great time re-enacting a romantic version of life in the days of brave knights, fair maids, cheeky knaves & bawdy wenches.
My husband John and I took these pictures at the New York Renaissance Faire in Sterling Forest in Tuxedo, New York. These photos represent only a small portion of the all we did and saw; to appreciate a faire, you have to experience it for yourself. Once inside the gates you'll feel like you've entered an exotic alternate universe. The hardest thing about going to a Renaissance Faire is leaving! And it's even more fun if you make an effort to dress up a little (or a lot!) so I've also included links to online stores selling some beautiful fantasy costumes, jewelry and props.
That's me hiding behind an ostrich feather fan at one of the many vendor booths. Some of the merchandise for sale at Renaissance Faires can be pricey, but so much of it is unique & beautiful, it's hard to resist. If you're a shopaholic like me, just bring what you can afford to spend in cash and leave the charge cards at home :-)
We heard music everywhere we went. There were groups like this one, performing on the balcony of a pub. (Inside you could buy ale and mead, which is a kind of wine made from honey.) There were also lone troubadors wandering the faire grounds looking for pretty ladies to serenade.
And of course every fair has at least one bellydancer accompanied by middle eastern drums, gypsy guitars & flutes. Most of the performers at Renn Faires are very talented, and some are professional dancers, singers & musicians.
This living chess game featured royals, nobles, clergy and peasants as the "pieces" When a piece moved into a square where there is already a piece, the two pieces fought for the square. Fights ranged from verbal battles to the clashing of swords and the audience, divided into teams, cheered and hooted for "their" side and trash talked the opposition. All in Renaissance style of course :-)
John gets fitted for some Pan horns. As you probably know, Pan is a noisy, merry, lusty god, part human and part goat. Most comfortable in wild places, he is also a wonderful musician, accompanying woodland nymphs on reed pipes while they danced.
No, this isn't one of those dancing woodland nymphs, just me on my way to a Hallowe'en party last year. But since lots of people dress in fantasy costumes at Renaissance Faires, I might just wear this outfit next time. Lord of the Rings inspired costumes are especially popular, especially Elvish designs. And I also saw quite a few Renaissance romantigoths wearing long black dresses with shredded hems so a Stevie Nicks-ish Rhiannon outfit would be a fun costume too.
Renaissance Faires usually feature excellent bellydancers. If you've been inspired to learn or are in search of inspiring Middle Eastern music, check out my Learn To Bellydance page.
Renaissance & Medieval inspired Music
The Renaissance inspired music of Blackmore's Night ranges from infectious gypsy dance songs to dreamily romantic mistrel tunes. Some of my favorites are Shadow of the Moon, Under a Violet Moon, Fires at Midnight and their latest CD Ghost of a Rose.
Renaissance & Medieval Dances
for Recorders, Dancers, and Hand Drums
by Isabel McNeill Carley
For Dancers Young and Old with CD
by Isabel McNeill Carley
Courtly Dance of the Renaissance
A New Translation and Edition of the Nobilta Di Dame (1600)
by Fabritio Caroso
Books about Costuming & Life during Elizabethan & Medieval Times
How to Plan for Holidays, Weddings, and Reenactments
With Recipes, Customs, Costumes, Decorations, Songs, Dances, and Games
by Daniel Diehl & Mark Donnelly
Medieval Tailor's Assistant
Making Common Garments 1200-1500
by Sarah Thursfield
Medieval Costume in England and France
The 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries
by Mary G. Houston
for The Years 1550 - 1580
by Janet Winter
Patterns of Fashion
The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women C1560-1620
by Janet Arnold
Authentic Everyday Dress of the Renaissance
All 154 Plates from the "Trachtenbuch"
by Christoph Weiditz
Historic Costume (CD-ROM and Book)
From Ancient Times to the Renaissance
by Tom Tierney
Life in a Medieval Castle
by Joseph Gies
Daily Life in Elizabethan England
by Jeffrey L. Singman
Dressing Renaissance Florence
Families, Fortunes, and Fine Clothing
by Carole Collier Frick
Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony
by Madeleine Pelner
The Medieval Wedding Guide
by Vanessa Hand
Shoes and Pattens
Finds from Medieval Excavations in London
by Francis Grew & Margrethe de Neergaard; illustrated by Susan Mitford
TECHNIQUES OF MEDIEVAL ARMOUR REPRODUCTION: THE 14TH CENTURY
by Brian R. Price
The Illustrated Book Of Rapiers And Cut And Thrust Swords And Their Use
by John Clements
Renaissance Lives: Portraits of an Age
by Theodore K. Rabb
Uppity Women of the Renaissance
by Vicki Leon
Uppity Women of Medieval Times
by Vicki Leon