5 takeaways from the Carolina Renaissance Festival

5 takeaways from the Carolina Renaissance Festival

Photo: Danielle Chemtob/Axios

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Hear ye! Hear ye! ‘Tis renaissance festival season.

What’s happening: Thousands flock to the 16th-century village of Fairhaven in the kingdom of Huntersville every autumn to watch knights joust, feast on turkey legs and test their archery skills.

Details: The Carolina Renaissance Festival is every Saturday and Sunday through Nov. 19 from 9:30am until 5:30pm at 16445 Poplar Tent Road. You can find directions here

  • Parking for the festival is free.

Here are five things to know before you head to the Carolina Renaissance Festival.

Buy tickets in advance

Tickets sell out quickly. You can buy them online. Tickets cost $ 32 for adults ages 13 and older and $20 for children ages 5-12. Ages 4 and under receive free admission. Your ticket is only good on the date you purchase it.

My thought bubble: A group showed up to the festival without tickets last weekend around midmorning only to find out they were already sold out. Thankfully our friend group was wise enough to buy them ahead of time.

Renaissance festival entrance.

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Bring cash

Most of the 140 vendors only accept cash. There are ATMs onsite, but spare yourself the wait in line and bring the king’s currency with you ahead of time.

Cheer on your knight

Your time in Fairhaven isn’t complete without witnessing a joust, and everyone knows it — that’s why seats in the stadium fill up so quickly. There are multiple jousts throughout the day, but it’s best to claim a seat at least 30 minutes early.

  • Yes, but: There are plenty of stages with live entertainment and peasant-powered rides to try too.
Renaissance festival joust

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Bring your appetite

One of the best parts about the festival is feasting on a turkey leg ($14), but there are plenty of other options, too. The pub is also packed with ale and mead, as well as coffees and teas for colder days.

  • Outside food and beverages are not permitted, with the exception of one sealed water bottle per person. There are fountains to refill your water bottle, too. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen!
  • Bonus: There’s also a pub crawl every day of the festival.

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Dress up

Embrace the experience. That means dressing up as a knight, king, queen, lord or lady, maybe event a peasant or fairy. Have fun with your costume, but leave real weapons at home. This is just for play. You won’t be called upon to defend the castle. You can also rent one outside the festival entrance or buy one inside.

My thought bubble: I recently went to the festival for the first time in years and I wish I’d thought to wear a costume. I will definitely be going back next year in a full costume.

Of note: Your journey to Fairhaven may not be completely historically accurate, but hopefully you can overlook any anachronisms and have a laugh or two — perhaps some at your own expense.

Editor’s note: This guide was originally published on Oct. 23, 2015 and was updated on Oct. 26, 2023.

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