The Maryland Renaissance Festival is one of the larger Renaissance fairs in the country, with over 280,000 visitors last year. It is located in Crownsville, Maryland but set to look as though it takes place in the fictional village of Revel Grove, England. It runs from the third week of August through the third week of October and features 130 craft shops and 42 food and drink vendors. 600 people are employed by the fair every year.
One of the most original forms of entertainment you’ll find at this fair are short, side-splitting skits based on Shakespearean plays and directed by Carolyn Spedden, the fair’s Entertainment Director. They have names like, “Tag team Romeo and Juliet,” “Macbeth in 20 minutes or less,” “Shakespearean Jeopardy,” and “Othello: Having a Bad Day.” They may not be educational, but they sure are fun! And Shakespeare wrote enough comedies himself to be sure to have approved of these modern-day spinoffs.
Scottish Music and Madrigals
The fair features the wonderful Scottish band, “Albannach” which means “Scottish” in the Scots-Gaelic tongue. Their performance is full of energy and has audiences participating by dancing in the aisles. All the members are born and raised in Scotland and interested in bringing Scottish culture to different parts of the world.
The “Camerata Musica” are another choir featured at the festival, bringing all kinds of madrigals to the fair. A madrigal is usually a secular song unaccompanied by music and sung by four to six voices.
Alchemy, Archery and Contortionists
Alchemy 101 is a great stage show at the festival where Dr. Bertram Ripley, who claims to be great nephew to Sir George Ripley, England’s foremost alchemist, takes you through the basics of alchemy as it was practiced during the renaissance period. Alchemy, as he teaches it, is a mishmash of scientific theory and superstition and one of Ripley’s aims is “trying not to blow myself up.” This show is great for kids and adults alike.
You can also see an archery demonstration in the jousting field or watch jugglers and contortionists make up the most unlikely pyramids in “Barely Balanced.”
So whether you’re looking for musical entertainment, a comedy show, great food or you just want to walk around looking at the wonderful costumes donned by the thousands who attend this fair, the Maryland Renaissance Festival will have something for you.