Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Florida Renaissance Festival starts this weekend: Expect to be ‘shocked with the look of the show’
How do you celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Florida Renaissance Festival? You add an unprecedented eighth weekend, that’s how.
Ren-Fest, as it is known by its loyal followers, has extended its run, stretching from this Saturday and Sunday until March 25 and 26 at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach.
For the uninitiated, or those firmly planted in the here and now, Ren-Fest features jousting knights, live music, animatronic installations, comedic stage shows, magicians, strolling performers, as well as crafts, food and drinks. Yes, costumes are highly encouraged. (But don’t get hung up on sticking to a time period because Ren-Fest includes forays into steampunk, sci-fi, comic books and whatever eras fairy tales and “Alice in Wonderland” belong in.)
Bobby Rodriguez, founder and organizer, says they added a weekend to satisfy pent-up demand.
“Because of the pandemic we were shut down in the middle of one year, and then the next year we didn’t have a show,” he recalls. “When we came back last year, people were clamoring to get back. I’m on the boards of several [festival and entertainment] organizations ... and the general consensus was that as things started to open up, people were seeing not only higher attendance, but a greater percentage of newer customers. That was what we experienced last year...
“People are still attending outdoor events across the country in larger numbers.”
What to expect
Each weekend will have a different theme throughout the staging. For details, go to ren-fest. com/events/themed-weekendsand-specialty-acts.
■ Feb. 4-5: The Wizarding World’s Faire - A Magical Grand Opening
■ Feb. 11-12: Barbarians & Dragons - A Roaring Battle
■ Feb. 18-19: Steampunk & Time Travelers - Age of Automation
■ Feb. 25-26: Maidens, Wenches and Goddesses - A Beautiful Empowerment
■ March 4-5: Days of Cosplay Heroes, villains & everything in between
■ March 11-12: Pirate Invasion Swashbucklers & Scallywags
■ March 18-19: Highland Fling - A Celtic Celebration
■ March 25-26: A Mad Hatter’s Circus - A Fairytale Finale
What’s new this time around
About 20 percent of the show has changed in terms of the layout, according to Rodriguez.
“When people come by, especially our regulars, they will be shocked with the look of the show and the layout,” he says. “Something we did last year, we built a new dais for the jousting field ... with the king, queen and court stand. And people were hugely impressed with this structure. It looks like a real building, a real facade. That gave us the incentive to go ahead and build more. Most of our stages .. have a whole new look.”
What about the vendors?
The crafts, games and food all reflect the vibe of Ren-Fest, Rodriguez says.
“This is what they call a juried show. Anyone who wants to be a vendor has to go through our jury process. We were not allowing anyone to come in to sell sunglasses or cellphone covers or anything that is a bit too modern. We try to keep the look as medieval/renaissance as possible,” he explains. “Most vendors make most of their things. They’re handmade. To that end, if you’re someone who likes that, this is definitely a great place to shop because you find a lot of things that are handcrafted.”
If you go
WHAT: Florida Renaissance Festival
WHEN: 10 a.m. until sunset (about 6:30 p.m.) each weekend from Feb. 4 to March 26
WHERE: Quiet Waters Park, 401 S. Powerline Road, Deerfield Beach
■ Single-day tickets are $35.28 for adults and $16.74 for children age 6-11. Admission is free for those younger than 6.
■ Season passes are $207.29 for adults and $84.21 for children.
■ Some Ren-Fest activations have additional fees, including The Pub Crawl for $41.46 (ages 21 and up) and “Den of Monsters” for $4.67 (a new live).
■ General parking is free, with pedicab shuttle services available to take you to the front gate. VIP parking is $28.07. Season pass holders can purchase VIP parking in person only at the park for a discounted price of $11.32 (credit card transactions only).