Here's a short write-up of my trip to the Phoenix Renaissance Festival. Despite all the time I spent in Phoenix when getting my bachelor's, I only went once back then (right before I graduated) so this was only my second time.
Anyway, the festival here is pretty impressive. It runs every weekend for two whole months (February and March) and is the size of small theme park. It's a pretty popular event and all the workers (and some of the visitors) wear costumes. No matter where in the festival village you are, there's plenty to see with twelve event stages and plenty of people on the street as well.
I spent a good part of the day just walking a big circle around the village, looking in the stores, and stopping at any interesting looking shows. And there are a ton of stores. Unsurprisingly, it's mostly medieval type things (art, instruments, wood, glass, leather, clothing, etc, etc, etc) but there's a huge variety and quite a lot of the stuff is handmade. Lots of fun to browse. I got a neat old fashioned book (blank), which actually gave me a cool idea that I might talk about more another day.
When I wasn't looking through the shops (and wishing I had more spending money), I checked out quite a lot of shows. The Mediaeval Baebes (careful, that movie file is kinda large), a British band that plays a somewhat rocky version of medieval style music, were there and they were pretty good. I liked it enough that I went to see them a second time later in the day. But that was only one show out of twenty some. There were plenty of comedians and some other music acts but I also spent some time watching fire whips, sword swallowing, juggling, glass blowing, and tight rope walking, to name a few. There's also a section with a recreation of a traditional peasant dwelling and related crafts. If you get tired of all that, there's always a game of chess or some good natured torture to pass the time.
I snacked along the way. Not sure how authentic soup in bread bowls and giant turkey legs are, but they're good. There were awesome pickles too. But anyway, after catching one last show (belly dancing), I finally made it to the main event, the joust. The joust is actually a series of three shows throughout the day, presided over by the king. It may be a show, but it's real jousting by guys with real jousting lances in real platemail armor. Some of it is scripted, but it's still really cool to watch. And, to go along with current trends, the joust this year contained three knights and a pirate. Little odd, but whatever. I ended up watching two of the three jousts and a few other things, like a falconry show, before the end of the day. I even ran into Moses on the way out (completely wrong time period, but nice costume).
The whole thing was a lot of fun and, while one day gave me a good amount of time to look around, I wouldn't mind going back against before the festival ends so I can catch some of the shows I missed. If you're in the Phoenix or Tuscon area, I highly recommend it.