Renaissance Festivals are an interesting experience, but much like Forrest Gump’s famous box of chocolates, you never know what you will get. Renaissance Festivals are commonly called Ren Fests, Ren Fairs, and Renaissance Faires, so if looking for one in your area or state, Google accordingly. The Ren Fests in this article are all based in Tennessee. Renaissance Faires pay homage to the Renaissance period in history, so entertainment and themes can cover anything from jousting to pirates, Celtic music to belly dancing, sword swallowing to fire eating. Some Ren Fests are very family friendly and great places to take your kids, while others are more occult and adult in nature. It is always a good idea to check web sites for information on themes and ambiance. The Renaissance Festivals I have attended in Tennessee have all been family friendly.
Ardmore Renaissance Faire, Ardmore Tennessee / Alabama
Tennessee is home to at least three active Renaissance Fairs as well as the Ardmore Renaissance Faire which ran from 2003 through 2008 and which will hopefully resume. The town of Ardmore is in both Alabama and Tennessee, so the Ardmore Renaissance Faire is on the state line. The Ardmore Renaissance Faire took place one weekend in April and featured a living-history weekend with live Celtic Music, period clothing, swords, candles, jewelry, live chess and archery, May Pole Dancing, fencing, sword swallowing, belly dancing and a children’s play area. Sword Swallower Dan Meyer was the star of last year’s Ardmore festival. There was also a marketplace and a food concessions area. I attended the Ardmore Renaissance Faire in April of 2008 and although it was the smallest of the Tennessee Ren Fests, it was enjoyable. I hope they revive the Ardmore faire.
Dragon Days Renaissance Festival, Cookeville, Tennessee
Dragon Days also takes place in April. 2008 was the second year for the Dragon Days Renaissance Festival held at Hidden Hollow Park in Cookeville, Tennessee. The Dragon Days festival offers quite a bit of entertainment including the Pickled Brothers sword swallowers and other entertainers. This is another place to see Renaissance costumes and a marketplace of appropriate wares from the Middle Ages. Fire manipulator Johnny Phoenix was the star of both the Dragon Days Renaissance Festival and Shakespeare and Friends Celtic Renaissance Festival (below) in 2009.
Tennessee Renaissance Festival, Triune, Tennessee
The Tennessee Renaissance Festival is the largest of the Tennessee Ren Fests and is held the first four complete weekends in May and on Memorial Day. The Tennessee Renaissance Festival takes place in Triune, Tennessee which is just outside the small community of Arrington, Tennessee, between Franklin and Murfreesboro. I have made it to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival at least once or twice every year for the past five years. This festival is small in comparison to huge festivals in cities like Atlanta, but there are many things that make the Tennessee Renaissance Festival one of the nicest in the country. The festival has plenty of entertainment, shopping, food and shade. There are four or five stages set up every year where a variety of entertainment takes place simultaneously. Between the stages, covering several acres, are colorful tents full of costumes, swords, jewelry, leather, glass, pottery, baskets, soaps, candles, and other Renaissance wares. Musicians perform on stage as well as roving the grounds, and each weekend has a theme. See photos of the 2009 TN Ren Fest here.
Shakespeare and Friends Celtic Renaissance Festival, Rogersville, Tennessee
The Shakespeare and Friends Celtic Renaissance Festival has been going on for 10 years in Rogersville, Tennessee, near Bristol and Morristown. The Shakespeare and Friends Celtic Renaissance Festival is held one weekend each June. This festival is smaller than the Tennessee Renaissance Festival but larger than Ardmore. Much like the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, the Shakespeare and Friends Celtic Renaissance Festival featured a cast playing historical characters. Both festivals feature Queen Elizabeth I as the festival Queen in full costume. Crockett Spring Park is a most picturesque setting and lends itself well to a Ren Fest with its wooden bridges, tall trees, and jousting field. Much like the other festivals, there is Celtic music, belly dancing, shopping, food, and other entertainment. William Shakespeare is also on hand to introduce the entertainers! See my Shakespeare and Friends Celtic Ren Fest photo gallery here.
If you know of any other Renaissance Festivals in other parts of Tennessee, please leave a comment below! I have enjoyed visiting these Renaissance Festivals in Tennessee and would enjoy learning about others!
“Shakespeare & Friends Celtic Renaissance Faire, Rogersville, Tennessee” –
“Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2009”
“Tennessee Renaissance Festival Photos 2005 through 2008” –