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|Carolina Renaissance Festival|
|Dates||October - November|
|Location(s)||Huntersville, North Carolina|
The Carolina Renaissance Festival is a Renaissance fair held annually on Saturdays and Sundays in October and November. The festival is located just north of Charlotte, North Carolina between the towns of Huntersville, North Carolina and Concord, North Carolina near the intersection of 73 and Poplar Tent Road.
Set in the fictional village of "Fairhaven," it is one of the largest Renaissance festivals in the country. The festival brings in an average of 195,000 visitors during its fall season and had 210,000 for the 2016 season.
Major attractions include the three daily jousting tournaments featuring the stunt group Aventail Productions and the Ancient Art of Falconry presented four times daily. Other attractions include professional entertainment acts on 12 stages. Stage shows feature live music, dance, comedy shows, and performers with circus variety skills such as juggling, sword swallowing, acrobatics, and sideshow antics. Musicians perform with traditional instruments such as the harp, bagpipes, or other, more obscure, "period" instruments. Roaming the "lanes" of the festival are a variety of nationally traveling professional street performers who engage visitors to help create an interactive performance experience.
The Carolina Renaissance Festival also operates an in-house performance company featuring over 100 costumed characters who also interact directly with visitors at the fair, in an attempt to create a more authentic feel of a renaissance-era town and to help bring the "village" to life. Individuals in the company develop characters such as "The Village Baker," "Tavern Keeper," etc. A "Singing Milkmaid" trio, a Town Mayor, and the fictional Royal Family that has come to visit the shire are other examples. The company is primarily composed of people from surrounding communities, including Concord, Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte. Auditions are held June of each year.
Over 100 vendors sell a variety of handmade arts and craft goods such as handmade jewelry, artisan leather goods, blown glass made at live demonstrations, candles, and custom chain mail. The festival vends an assortment of medieval themed foods, including giant turkey legs, various soups, stews, and chowders served in "bread bowls", "Steak on a Stake", fish and chips, corn on the cob, and Scotch eggs.
Alongside the shops one can find games such as archery target-shooting, crossbow shooting, axe throwing, frog catapults and a gold coin hunt.
Weddings and vow renewal ceremonies are also held on site, with ceremonies attended by the cast of the Royal Court and a covered pavilion reserved for the couple.
In addition to the above, the festival has several mini-themed weekends throughout the course of the season such as the popular "Time Travelers Weekend" where costume players of all genres (science fiction, comic books, etc.) are invited to time travel to the renaissance. Other themes include BrewFest Weekend, Halloween Daze & Spooky Knights Weekend, and Pirate's Christmas Weekend. Opening Weekend is always celebrated with a buy one, get one free discount for adult admission (coupon required).
The Carolina Renaissance Festival was introduced in 1993 by Jeff Siegel, owner of parent company Royal Faires which also owns and operates the Arizona Renaissance Festival. The Carolina Renaissance Festival originally offered just six acres dedicated to entertainment but has since grown to offer twenty-five acres of attractions.