The Carolina Renaissance Fair runs from October 5th to November 24th in the town of Huntersville, North Carolina.  Its fictional setting is in the English village of Fairhaven; 160,000 people attend the fair every year, making it one of the largest renaissance festivals in the country.  This year will mark the fair’s 20th anniversary.


Three times a day, you can watch jousting performed by the Hanlon-Lees Action Theater which got its name from the 19th century Hanlon-Lees, a group of comedic acrobats.  They use re-creations of 19th century apparatus to enable them to perform jousting stunts e.g., they have a device which helps them to make it look as though someone has been decapitated.

The Hanlon-Lees were the first ones to come up with theatrical jousting which soon became popular among other companies and is now performed in renaissance fairs throughout the country.  The Hanlon-Lees are also different from other jousting companies because they have a dramatic element.  Usually, their story revolves around a squire who has to prove himself to be knighted by the king, but they’ve also done a Three Musketeers themed show.


The festival also boasts 500 costumed characters who interact with visitors to produce the effect of actually walking through renaissance England.  These characters include a tavern-keeper, a village baker, a trio of singing milkmaids, a mayor and, of course, the royal family.  There are also fantasy characters such as Greenman which is a large walking tree and Twig, a faerie.

Artisans and Food

In terms of artisans, the festival boasts sellers of renaissance era jewelry, blown glass and leather goods.  But what is really interesting is that you can actually buy custom chain mail.

If you’re brave, you can also try a variety of medieval-inspired foods such as giant Turkey legs, “steak on a stake,” and Scotch eggs.

These are just a few of the attractions at the Carolina Renaissance Fair which has twelve stages, various rides and games, the world’s largest rocking horse, displays of falconry and a number of jugglers and acrobats.  So whether you’re going with adults or children, you’re sure to find something to your liking.