The Michigan Renaissance Festival is held each summer near Holly, Michigan from mid-August through September. Guests are welcome every weekend during this time, with each week bringing a new theme and special events to enjoy. Going in costume is encouraged, but not required, and the entertainments and activities can be enjoyed by everyone, rain or shine.
The open-air events include musicians, magicians, jugglers, and even armored jousting competitions. Renaissance period crafts will be demonstrated, as well as made available for sale, along with popular food and drinks such as huge roasted turkey legs and hearty stew served in a bread bowl. If any or all of that sounds like fun to you, be sure to check their website for ticket prices, parking information, and more.
Renaissance fairs in the United States started due to a resurgence in interest in medieval and Renaissance culture following the end of World War II. This began with an interest in the music from those periods, which inspired gatherings of musicians and fans. The most famous of these gatherings is John Langstaff’s Christmas Revels, a celebration of song, dance, and customs surrounding the winter holidays from ages past.
In 1963, schoolteacher Phyllis Patterson, inspired by the Revels and similar events, held a very small Renaissance Fair as an activity for her students. That same year she and her husband held a much larger version as a fundraiser for a local radio station, drawing a crowd of 8,000. The Pattersons continued to expand the idea, holding what many consider the first official Renaissance Fair in the spring of 1966, and then founding a fall fair the following year. Both became local traditions which spread across the country.
While the original Renaissance Fairs had a strong focus on historical accuracy and education, often set up by historical museums and societies to portray life in a 16th century village as accurately as possible, others began incorporating more entertainment and fantasy elements depending on the interests of their communities.
These days, the fairs blend fun and education, appealing to many demographics in order to attract larger crowds. Most will still have the character actors, presenters, and even vendors remain “in character” throughout, and although guests are not required to participate at this level, they are always encouraged to take part if they want to.
Theme weekends and other events might also highlight other time periods and cultures, such as 17th century pirates or medieval Vikings. The Michigan Renaissance Festival incorporates all of these elements, including opportunities to spend time with traditional hunting birds, blacksmithing demonstrations, and more. So why not try out a unique adventure this summer in the village of Hollygrove?