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The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire Takes You Back in Time


The scene unfolds as we step into 1569, ten years into Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Things aren’t all tea and roses—good Queen Bess decides to The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faireescape London to the Shire of Mount Hope and relax for the day. And that is where the ‘mundanes’ go to see the Queen.

The Shire of Mount Hope has over 13 open-air stages with 90 daily shows- sword swallowers, fire breathers, magicians, jugglers, sirens of song, musicians, comedy and other entertainment. See a match of Human Chess on a 40’ x 40’ chessboard with hand-to-hand combat, stunts and plenty of laughs, and don’t forget the Royal Joust! The Faire is set amidst the splendor of the formal gardens of Mount Hope Estate & Winery, placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Government. Take the Turnpike west to Exit 266, hang a right onto Route 72 and you have arrived!

In addition to the performers, there are many sights, sounds and things to eat! Vendors of all kinds, pottery, clothing, jewelry, tapestries, leather work, ironworks, woodworking, glassblowing, (I bought a teeny pumpkin) and many shops with swords and chain maille.

The Ren Faire also has amazing food. You can sample old-worlde foods: steak-on-a-stake, fish-n-chips, scotch eggs and soup and stews and the huge crowd favorite: the giant roasted turkey leg. For dessert try gourmet cookies and brownies, honey, freshly baked pastries, heaping scoops of Italian gelato and ice cream. (I tried butter pecan gelato- serious yum!)

My friends and I wandered all over the grounds of the Faire- it was a great day to be outside. We watched the glassblower demo, ate some pork, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes, giant turkey legs and soup in bread boules, played some games and rode some rides, watched some amazing shows, including the grape stomping contest in honor of wine harvest weekend and the washer well show, the daredevil chess match, and sampled all the great Mt. Hope wines. It was a busy day too- hundreds of people were milling around- checking out the goodies the faire had to offer. You really do feel as if you have gone back in time, the scent of roasted meats and fresh-baked breads, the sounds of bagpipes, the shirefolk talking in Olde British, Scottish and Italian accents as they greet you (Good den!), and the clash of steel in battle.

After the exciting battles at the Ultimate Joust, we headed towards the Globe Theatre. The Finale in Song was fun, although different that I remembered it. It used to be exuberant singing and dancing as the Queen and her subjects said farewell to their visitors, now it is more of a variety hour with several performances and songs geared towards the kids. And there was a bit with a duck. Thankfully the band Coyote Run got the crowd moving again with their amazing music, and the final song got the whole crowd involved as the Queen bid us fare thee well. After, we headed to the Wine Shoppe, being as it was, Wine Harvest Weekend, we were able to get several delicious bottles of wine at great prices. (This is always my favorite part of the faire. I recommend the Sangria!)

The faire has just three weekends left! With Shire-wide Trick-or-Treating, children’s costume parades, pumpkin cookie decorating, mask making, and costume contests, you don’t want to miss this! The final encore weekend is October 31 and November 1.

The fantasy of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire unfolds between the hours of 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Parking is free. Go to www.PaRenFaire.com  for more information regarding the Faire and special savings discounts. Information is available through the Faire Box Office by calling (717) 665-7021 as well. The Faire is located on Rt. 72, ½ mile south of PA Turnpike Exit 266, 15 miles north of Lancaster and 14 miles east of Hershey.

Pictures courtesy of PA Renaissance Faire.