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Eat, drink and be merry at this year’s Michigan Renaissance Festival

Discover the magic of Queen Elizabeth’s court with music, artisans and performances galore

by Cemile Kavountzis
for Michigan Renaissance Festival
Eat, drink and be merry at this year’s Michigan Renaissance Festival

About an hour northwest of Detroit and 20 minutes south of Flint, a magical village named HollyGrove has reappeared along the Dixie Highway. Here, with a flutter of fairy wings, the clocks turn back to the 16th century at the stroke of 10 a.m. on Saturday mornings for a few more weekends.

Within the turreted gates, Queen Elizabeth and her court graciously invite all to eat, drink and be merry in the enchanting realm of the 2021 Michigan Renaissance Festival, a beloved tradition since 1979.

Running until its Sweet Endings weekend Oct. 1-3, the festival features 18 stages of entertainment, more than 150 artisans and food fit for royalty.

Each weekend — and no two weekends are alike — the 17-acre Renaissance village wakes from its slumber with a castle, lively taverns and a bustling market square. Characters cloaked in regalia stroll the grounds, knights in shining armor joust and mythical creatures add to the fun.'

If you’re looking for a unicorn meet-and-greet, free-flowing grog and competitive kilt-wearing, you’ve found it (and so have your social media posts).

On the multitude of stages, you’ll see musicians, magicians and mimes. You may catch a juggling act, Scottish bagpipers or a roving lute player — all in the space of an afternoon.

Whether you visit once or several times, each weekend brings a festival within a festival spotlighting a different theme. But when the clock tolls 7 p.m. on Sunday evening, the spell breaks until the next weekend, leaving you with about a million reasons to return.

Enjoy afternoon tea with the queen in the Crystal Palace every day at 4 p.m.

Go on a quest — or pub crawl — through the festival grounds

See wildly unique entertainment and indulge at food vendors, serving everything from apple dumplings to wood-fired pizza and of course, unicorn-themed treats, around the Palace Pantry, the Queen’s Cookery and Royal Kitchen, among other areas.

Get the lay of the land with a pub crawl starting at the Battle Axe Pub each day at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., including brews at four pubs, a passport and a collectible mug. Or, clink cups at the King’s Happy Hour with ales and snacks at the Blackstone Castle at 5:45 p.m.

If afternoon tea with the queen is more your scene, head to the Crystal Palace at 4 p.m. for hors d’oeuvres and tea. For a banquet, book a seat at the Feast Fantasy, featuring a six-course gourmet meal and performances, in the Blackstone Castle at 11:30 a.m. or 3 p.m. 

In the marketplace, hunt for one-of-a-kind treasures and handcrafted gems, such as jewelry, artwork, apparel and homewares. If you’re wondering what a fortune teller may see in their crystal ball, you can get that answer here. You’ll also find tarot card readings, palmistry and astrology.

Take a step back in time for a fun escape

Each weekend brings a different experience based on a theme. On Sept.18-19, be transported to the Emerald Isle for Shamrocks & Shenanigans. Show off your fancy footwork with traditional Irish dance and music or compete in the Men in Kilts contest to see who wore it best.

Get into the autumn spirit with the Harvest Huzzah, Sept. 25-26, and don your favorite pirate garb for a swashbuckling Perfect Pirate contest.

Before it all ends, there is the real unicorn of the festival — the only weekday opening — Festival Friday on Oct. 1. It’s a perfect time for school field trips with lessons in music, costumes and dueling. You can also enjoy the Friday vibes with a special Ladies Shopping Day for scooping up those rare finds. 

To bid adieu to another year of the Michigan Renaissance Festival, Sweet Endings, Oct. 1-3, is dedicated to sugary delights and the Annual Fencing Championships.

With so much going on, you’ll laugh, you’ll have fun and you might even get a picture with that elusive, magical unicorn.

To buy tickets for the Michigan Renaissance Festival, visit michrenfest.com.  

To buy tickets for the Michigan Renaissance Festival, visit michrenfest.com.
Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.
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