Step back in time to the 16th century European Renaissance at the annual Michigan Renaissance Festival held every fall in Holly, Michigan. This beloved event transports attendees to an immersive historic village filled with live entertainment, artisan crafts, delicious food and fun activities for all ages.
If you love history, theater, unique handmade wares, and old-world merriment, the Michigan Renaissance Festival is a must-visit attraction. Read on for details on what you can expect at the 2023 festival so you can fully enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience. Please join Let’s save Michigan to learn more through this article.
Popular Shows and Entertainment
The highlight of the Michigan Renaissance Festival is absolutely the live entertainment and shows happening all day on outdoor stages throughout the village. You’ll find a packed schedule of exciting acts and performances sure to appeal to all ages and interests.
Here are some of the most popular and beloved forms of entertainment you’ll have the pleasure of witnessing during the festival.
The joust is one of the most iconic Renaissance fair events, pitting armored knights on horseback against each other in an exciting competition of skill. At the Michigan Renaissance Festival, you can watch the Joust Tournament held three times daily in the Festival Arena.
Knights charge towards each other with long wooden lances, attempting to strike their opponent to score points to become champion.
With thundering hooves kicking up dust and the clashing of lances, this action-packed show captures all the drama and excitement of medieval tournaments.
Birds of Prey Exhibition
For a unique live show, head over to the Birds of Prey exhibition held three times per day. You’ll see majestic owls, hawks, falcons and other raptors soar overhead and swoop down just feet from the crowd.
A falconer narrates details about each species with insightful facts, then demonstrates the bird’s impressive natural behaviors. Kids especially love seeing the birds up close and learning about how they hunt and survive in the wild.
Human Combat Chess Match
Human Combat Chess Match combines Renaissance intrigue with thrilling live-action battle. In this show, the chess pieces come to life as armored warriors who battle other pieces they take to reach the other side of the life-sized chessboard.
Combatants use real weapons like swords, shields, staffs and maces while acting out this human version of chess with choreographed fight scenes on each square. Crowds can cheer for the “black” and “white” courts in a unique twist on the classic strategy game.
For an ethereal performance, make time for Sirens held on Fountain Stage. Gorgeously costumed singers enact a tantalizing show as an ensemble of mystical sea sirens who lure pirates and sailors with their spellbinding song and alluring allure.
With haunting harmonies and projected imagery, they tell tales from Greek mythology and medieval folklore through majestic a cappella song set dramatically against a water fountain backdrop.
The Festival of Fools
If you’re seeking zany, laugh-out-loud comedy entertainment, The Festival of Fools is sure to deliver. In the spirit of medieval pageantry, The Fools perform pop culture parodies, improv, and adult humor with outrageous costumes, nonsense songs, and crass jokes tailored for 21+ audiences.
Previous silly spoofs include Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Rocky Horror, Disney classics and beloved sitcoms. This uproarious show offers some late night, R-rated fun for grownup festival-goers.
For a heart-pounding show that appeals to all ages, check out master illusionist Alchemy Fire and his dazzling display of magic, stunts, and fiery effects. He combines stunning pyrotechnics, technological light projections, sleight of hand, and daring moments like escaping a strait jacket while suspended high in the air.
Kids stare in wonder during his interactive magic acts, while adults hold their breath as he risks life and limb to pull off dangerous fire manipulations and feats before a nightly fireworks finale.
Prepare to be amazed during this professional magic and illusion show that feels more like a rock concert than traditional Renaissance faire.
Delicious Food and Drink
After a day of exploring the open-air village and watching spectacular entertainment, you’ll no doubt work up a hearty appetite. Luckily, Michigan Renaissance Festival has appetizing food and drink options to satisfy any craving.
Here are some of the most popular food and beverage items drawing hungry patrons each festival season
Giant Turkey Legs
These meaty, bone-in turkey legs have become a familiar Renaissance festival staple for good reason. The fall-off-the-bone turkey is seasoned, smoked, and roasted to perfection.
These substantial, moderately priced turkey legs make for a filling meal you can eat with your hands on the go. They pair nicely with a cold beer too!
You can’t walk far without encountering the sweet aroma of funnel cakes wafting through the village.
Vendors fry up these classic carnival treats fresh to order and top them with powdered sugar or sweet toppings like fruit, fudge, and caramel sauce. Funnel cakes are ideal for sharing and provide that nostalgic state fair food experience.
Steak on a Stone
For hearty protein, try the Steak on a Stone meal. Tender slices of beef are cooked tableside on a hot volcanic stone that keeps them sizzling the entire meal.
The meat comes with grilled veggies, potatoes, bread and sauce options for a satisfying dinner. Pull up a chair at one of the dining halls to watch your meal barbecue itself before your eyes.
Chicken Pot Pie
Get a piping hot Chicken Pot Pie served in a bowl made from a freshly baked bread loaf. The creamy chicken stew with peas, carrots and potatoes is the perfect comfort food.
And you get to break through the flaky bread bowl top to soak up every last bit of the rich filling. It’s like two classic dishes in one!
Channel your inner wench or knight by sipping mead, the quintessential Renaissance alcoholic beverage. Made from fermented honey, mead has a sweet, wine-like taste.
The drink stalls have mead varieties like blueberry, ginger, vanilla and dry sparkling to suit any palate. Mead pairs remarkably well with meaty turkey legs and other medieval eats.
Of course, the festival offers decadent desserts too! Treat yourself to chocolate-dipped slices of creamy cheesecake on a stick for a sweet finale. Take one to go and eat it while watching the festival’s final evening show or performance before heading home.
Festival’s Themed Weekends
In addition to the daily entertainment and activities, the Michigan Renaissance Festival incorporates themed weekends that add extra magic and merriment to the occasion.
Time Travelers Weekend
Set aside your codpieces and corsets and don futuristic garb for Time Travelers weekend! You’re encouraged to dress in creative science fiction costumes as time travelers from the future visiting the Renaissance period village. Expect fun nods to Dr. Who, Star Trek, and other sci-fi universes all weekend long.
Don your Scottish kilts and plaids to celebrate all things Celtic during Tartan Day. You’ll find Highland games challenges, bagpipe competitions, Irish and Scottish folk music and dancing, tasty pub fare, and whisky tastings. It’s the perfect way to honor Scottish heritage and traditions.
The world of myth and magic comes alive during Fantasy Weekend. Unicorns, dragons, mermaids, fairies will roam the realm. You might catch real-life mermaid shows in giant tanks and glimpses of graceful woodland sprites. Kids are invited to come dressed as their favorite fictional creature.
Roman Bacchanal – Michigan Renaissance Festival
On the final festival weekend, come in flowing togas and laurel crowns to revel in the Roman Bacchanal event. Eat, drink and make merry! Expect wine tastings, grapes, revelry dances, gladiator fights, toga parades and more as you celebrate ancient Rome debauchery and excess. Hail Caesar!
Tips for Visiting the Festival – Michigan Renaissance Festival 2023
- Arrive early, especially on weekends, as parking lots fill up
- Give yourself at least 6 hours to adequately see everything
- Wear comfortable walking shoes because you’ll be on your feet exploring all day
- Bring cash since many vendors are cash only
- Come hungry because food tickets let you sample lots of options
- BYO chair and blanket for resting at shows
- Dress for the weather with layers and sun protection
- Get a printed map and entertainment schedule upon arrival
- Catch the Festival Parade at least once during your visit
- Let the kids join the Children’s Realm activities and crafts
- Pose with characters and artists for memorable photos
- Sample and share new foods and drinks together
- Seek out shade and misting stations on hot days
- Take home crafted souvenirs for lifelong memories
The Michigan Renaissance Festival is a magical trip back in time for all ages. For 8 weekends every fall, you can experience the sights, sounds, cuisine and community of a 16th century European village.
The festivals offers endless wonders to inspire your senses and spirit any time you attend. Discover your own joy and magic at the 2023 Michigan Renaissance Festival this season!