By Mitch Amiano
Just north of Charlotte lies a magical land of costumed characters and live entertainment on over 30 acres of former farmland in the town of Huntersville. Open in the Fall months from the October through November, the Carolina Renaissance Festival is a recreation of a 16th Century European Country Faire boasting over 500 costumed characters and attracting nearly two hundred thousand visitors every year.
The 2016 festival ran from October 1 through November 20. As a photographer and contributing reporter for The Grey Area News, I went to investigate on October 22, 2016.
The festival has appearances from fairies, ogres, harp musicians, glassblowers, goblins, pirates, princesses and knights. A dozen theater stages host live entertainment from comedy and music to magic acts. Children will enjoy activities such as ride a giant rocking horse, see animals up close at the petting zoo, and even throw tomatoes at the town buffoon. Most of the stage presentations are come as you please, while games and rides are pay as you play.
As one might expect, food is available for purchase on site. Food selections are family friendly and diverse. No Renaissance Festival would be complete without roasted turkey legs, but there are dozens of other options available. A large food court lies about halfway through the grounds, and specialty vendors offering baked goods and desserts are found up and down the main path. The food and drink is surprisingly reasonably priced for a festival.
During their open season, the festival continues in rain or shine. Depending upon the weather, visitors may find the rural setting to be either very dusty or muddy. Camera equipment may need to be cleaned after a visit on a very dry day. Visitors who are sensitive to dust or who have breathing difficulties are cautioned to be aware of the weather and prepare accordingly.
The festival runs Saturdays and Sundays, from the end of September to late November. The next festival will run September 30-November 19, 2017.
The festival is held each year at 16445 Poplar Tent Rd Huntersville, North Carolina. Parking is free, and it is open from 10am to 5:30pm rain or shine. Visitors should be prepared to spend some time waiting in a parking queue upon arriving on site. Staff do a commendable job ferrying in the arriving cars and positioning them on open field parking areas, but with tens of thousands of people visiting be prepared for a moderate wait.
Service animals are allowed of course, but family pets are prohibited.
More details and schedules can be found on the event web site (www.carolina.renfestinfo.com).