Kids may be back in school and Fall officially started, but there is still plenty to do outside in Michigan’s beautiful weather! And we’re still in the midst of Michigan’s busy festival season. In my quest to be outdoors as much as Mother Nature shares this nice weather, my husband and I decided to check out the Michigan Renaissance Festival this past weekend.
The Michigan Renaissance Festival started in 1979 in Clarkston, Mich., but has been hosted in Holly for the past 37 years. Each year the festival welcomes attendees to travel back in time to the 16th century to experience life during this time. A 17-acre village showcases reproductions of Renaissance shops, taverns and a castle. More than 300 artisans display their work. Ongoing entertainment, including full-contact armored jousting, comedy, music, games and more, occur throughout the event days.
I haven’t been to the festival years so when I received some free admission tickets, I thought it would be a fun outing. So my husband and I headed north to Holly. The weekend’s theme was Harvest Huzzah, which was perfect for the kickoff of the fall season. Parking is free, which is nice since it’s a bit costly to get into the festival. We were stunned at the size of the crowd! It was much more crowded than either of us remember from the past so it’s obviously gained in popularity. Some people get really into the Renaissance theme – dressing in full costumes from the time period. There are some beautiful, detailed costumes worn by some. We also saw some zombies and a few random people who used the opportunity to dress in outrageous costumes not at all related to the time period. It was entertaining!
There is so much happening throughout the day! With 17 stages, there is ongoing music and entertainment. There are also entertainers wandering through the ‘village,’ including jugglers and people playing period games. A full-armor jousting contest drew a large crowd. There are games, such as archery, toss tomatoes at the insulting jesters, and knife throwing. There is a children’s area filled with age-appropriate games and activities. The marketplace was bustling with activity too. There are many clothing and costume vendors, as well as pretty jewelry, musical instruments, and fun toys for sale. You won’t go hungry, as there are tons of food and drink vendors (including the famous big turkey drumsticks!). You may go broke though, as there are many items to purchase. Plus, we noticed that many (maybe all?) performers pass baskets around to collect ‘donations’ from the crowd.
Overall, it was an interesting afternoon. Frankly, it was a bit too crowded for us to really enjoy as we couldn’t wander through the village without being bumped. I’m not sure I’d recommend for small children. I’m glad we experienced it after many years away and it was nice to see so many people having a festive time. It was a beautiful day to spend outdoors with my husband. We ended the adventure with a delicious meal at the Union Woodshop in Clarkston, which serves great barbecue food! We waited about an hour for a table, but the restaurant opened an upstairs bar for waiting patrons. I love their wood smoked pizza.
The Michigan Renaissance Festival ends Oct. 4, 2015. That weekend’s theme is Sweet Endings, featuring free samples at the Chocolate Festival, cupcake baking contest, craft beer tasting, many activities for kids and adults, and more.