Insider Tips for the Carolina Renaissance Festival

Enjoy a day exploring life in Fairhaven
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Carolina Renaissance Festival
A day of fun for all ages awaits in the village of Fairhaven at the Carolina Renaissance Festival.

The Carolina Renaissance Festival opens Saturday, Oct. 5, and is open every Saturday and Sunday until Nov. 24. This event on the outskirts of Huntersville attracts masses who enjoy the sights, sounds and acts of the village of Fairhaven. 

Before the Event

Tickets. Tickets purchased in advance at Harris Teeter stores cost $15 for children ages 5 to 12 and $25 for ages 13 and older. Entry is free for kids under the age of 5. Tickets at the gate cost $1 more.

What to bring. The festival takes place on a 25-acre site. Comfortable shoes are a must, and strollers or carriages are recommended for toddlers and little ones. Be sure to bring cash since many of the games and concessionaires don’t accept credit cards (and the various performers always appreciate tips).

Come early. Gates open every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m., but there is a pre-opening show at 9:30 a.m. to keep early-birds entertained. Parking is free, but can be a trek to the village grounds. Pretend you are strolling through Robinhood's Sherwood Forest. 

Food and drink. No outside food or beverage is allowed at the festival with the exception of baby-food products, medical dietary foods and one plastic water bottle with a sealed lid per person.


See live mermaids swimming at Fairies of the Sea at Ren Fest.

Courtesy Carolina Renaissance Festival

During the Festival

Must-see events: From gallant knights to the marvels of the vast ocean, the Lord Mayor outdoes himself once again in a bid for the Queen’s favor with a personal gift — the return of the Living Mermaids — Fairies of the Sea! Watch the aquatic sirens frolic, flip and blow bubbles in a 3,000-gallon aquarium. Stick around to sit atop the mermaid throne for a meet-and-greet photo experience.

New this year is Lady Alice of Wonderland and Lady Wendy of Neverland who bring their amazing tales of science and adventure. Also young dancers can't miss Pirouette the Magical Dancer as she ventures out of her Musical Magic Box to dance and delight. 

And definitely don’t miss the Joust and the Ancient Art of Falconry.

When you get hungry. Food stands with menu items from pizza to wraps to desserts and smoothies are scattered throughout the event property. Even picky eaters shouldn’t have a problem finding a delicious feast. Parents can enjoy coffee and alcohol as well, including craft beers. And be sure to chomp a giant roasted turkey leg.

On stage acts. With stage shows offered every 30 to 45 minutes, there is never a lull in Fairhaven. The day is filled with an abundance of attractions appropriate for all age groups, presented upon 14 stages, each packed with a unique mix of continuous music, dance, comedy shows, and circus entertainments.  From barely balanced acrobats to one-of-a-kind old-world musical instruments, the entertainment options are endless. The stage shows are always spontaneous, and you can take part in the action if you wish — or sit back and enjoy watching the audience volunteers who make a spectacle of themselves. You never know what happens next, on stage or off.

When looking over the schedule to see which events are best for your family, be sure to check out the rating system. Events with a (LC) rating are called Loose Cannon shows and are deemed inappropriate for little ones. However, there are more than enough family-friendly acts to fill your day.

Arrive five to 10 minutes early for guaranteed seating at one of the shows. Jousting events are the most popular and arriving 20 minutes before the scheduled start time is best.

Here are acts and activities best for different ages:

Entertainment for Toddlers:

  • The Ancient Art of Falconry
  • April Flowers— Songs and Games for Children
  • The Sea Fairies: The Living Mermaids
  • Twig the Fairy’s Woodland Friends
  • Roses of the Realm Belly Dance
  • The Fairhaven Petting Farm
  • Pony rides
  • Ride the World’s Tallest Rocking Horse, the Swan Swing, and travel to the high seas on the Voyage to the New World. 

Entertainment for Elementary-Age Children: 

  • Any of the above and also The Joust
  • Alice and Wendy — Science and Stories
  • Barely Balanced Acrobats
  • Gypsy Geoff
  • Lord Mayor Presents: Faerie Tea Time
  • The Children’s Knighting Ceremony
  • Any of the dance and musical performances
  • Ride the Pirate’s Assault Catapult
  • The London Broil Show Juggling
  • Dragon Forge: Interactive Blacksmithing
  • Climb-a-Lot Tower
  • Da Vinci’s Flying Machine
  • Shatter the Platter
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Pirates Assault Catapult

Entertainment for Middle-Schoolers

  • Any of the above and The London Broil Show
  • Don Juan and Miguel
  • Bret Blackshear — Comedy and Magic
  • Siege the Castle and test your strength with the High Stryker  

After the Event

TRAFFIC! Try to leave by 3:30 p.m. to avoid the mass of exiting traffic. Some traffic is inevitable though, so bring snacks and entertainment for the ride back to keep children distracted from waits in the car.

Special Event Weekends

The festival features the same schedule each weekend but special event weekends are scheduled throughout the festival, including Halloween Daze and Spooky Knights, Oct. 26 and 27. During Halloween Daze and Spooky Knights, children 12 and under are admitted free to the festival. There is free trick-or-treating throughout the village, a special Zombie Joust performance, costume contests and a treasure hunt.

If pirate-speak is common in your household, make plans to attend the festival Nov. 9 and 10 for A Pirates Christmas.

Visit the festival's website for more details and upcoming events.