A &E

Mermaids, Faeries, and Pirates, Oh My!

Looking for something exciting to do this coming weekend but sick of the mall and movie theater scene? To shake up the old routine and get a change of scenery, try travelling back in time; no DeLorean or TARDIS necessary.   

The Bay Area Renaissance Festival, located behind the MOSI in Tampa, is the perfect experience for those who are fascinated by the days of old, enthralled with fantasy and adventure, or just looking for a good excuse to don a costume. The festival was first held in 1979 and, according to its official website, has since attracted nearly 80,000 guests annually, making it one of Tampa’s premiere attractions.  

From the moment guests first enter, they are wholeheartedly welcomed by a cast of whimsical characters and immersed in the culture of the sixteenth century. The festival offers an array of food, games, and entertainment suitable for guests of all ages. Patrons can kick back with a tasty turkey leg and enjoy silly shows, such as the “Mud Show” or the “Washing Wenches,” or celebrate with a glass of mead after taking home the gold in the Highland Games. Other popular events include an action-packed joust, live music and dancing, and acrobatic performances. For guests also wanting to look the part, the festival also features over 100 merchants offering up a vast assortment of handcrafted clothing, accessories, and weapons.  

The festival typically begins in mid to late Feb. and ends in early Apr. Each weekend consists of a different theme, such as “Chocolate and Fantasy,” “Pirates and Pets,” and “Time Travelers” (for all those diehard “Doctor Who” fans). This year’s festival will run through April 2. Upcoming events include “Barbarian Brew Fest” on Mar. 25 and 26, “Festival Friday” on Mar. 31, and “High Seas Adventure” on Apr. 1 and 2.  

Tickets are available for purchase upon entry or can be purchased in advance on the festival’s website or at a discounted price at most Walgreens drug stores. Adult tickets are $17.95 but student discounts are offered to those who provide their school identification.  

For those who are bored with the minimal entertainment this century has to offer, take a trip back to the sixteenth century at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival before time runs out. Apr. 2 is approaching fast! For more information, visit the official website at bayarearenfest.com.

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