Tuesday, 28 December 2010 11:07


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Renaissance Pleasure Faire

Ten minutes east of Pasadena lies a land of imagination where jousting knights, regal ladies, saucy wenches and the court of a comely queen mix with today’s hipsters, history buffs, fantasy lovers and families.  The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire – the world’s oldest – presents its 49th season beginning April 9 and continuing each weekend through May 22 at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale, CA.  Tickets are on sale now at www.renfair.com

Set in the recreated Royal shipyard city of Port Deptford during the reign of Elizabeth I, fairgoers – many of whom are dressed in period costumes – are immersed into the music, language, merchants and entertainment of the era.  Hundreds of performers rove the 20-acre lakeside shire including Her Majesty herself, pirate Sir Francis Drake, playwright William Shakespeare as well as a bevy of knights, ladies, witches and peasants. There are 14 stages of entertainment featuring more than 40 performance groups such as knife throwers, jousters, witty shows, storytellers, jugglers and improvisation troupes. 

Renaissance Pleasure Faire“The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire is a place where your imagination takes flight,” says General Manager Andrew Elkins.  “We encourage our guests to join in the fun with costumes and accents but if they prefer to simply people watch, they will have a great time too.”

For the first time the Faire presents the internationally renowned joust troupe The World Tournament of Champions in a fast-paced, heart stopping show of knights in battle for Her Majesty’s pleasure. New musical, comedy and dance shows have been added including a 45-minute abridged version of Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew, an American Idol-style Shakespeare audition where winners perform for the Queen and a knight training class for children. 

The King of Fling Jack Dagger returns this year to show of his world-record knife throwing skills.  Named one of People Magazine’s 2008 Sexiest Men Alive, Dagger’s signature stunt is cutting a cucumber held on his assistant's arm.  The beloved Manly Men In Tights go to zany extremes to show what makes a man manly while Juggler, Ropewalker and Foolish Mortal MooNiE the Magnif’Cent pleases audiences with acrobatics, magic and juggling. Musical favorites include pub rockers The Poxy Boggards and musical tavern wenches The Merry Wives of Windsor.  The Poxy Boggards, known as “the drinking group with a singing problem,” play traditional and original folk and pub songs in a bawdy, high-spirited show.  Their angelic voiced sister group involves the audience with songs that range from the ridiculous to the sublime and from innocent to risqué.

Elizabeth I – whose reign is noted as the start of the English Renaissance period – greets fairgoers throughout the day and also holds audience at a royal tea. Tea with the Queen is at 4:00 PM in the St. Cuthbert Guild Yard where authentic English scones, tea sandwiches, tarts and tea are served.  Reservations are required.  Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children and includes a commemorative teapot.  Additionally, the Queen, the royal court and all the costumed performers hold a ceremony to open the doors of the Faire at 10:00 AM daily.

The wee ones and the young at heart will enjoy the Kid’s Kingdom where games, rides, crafts, story time, songs and magic are featured. Kids can vie for the title of Prince or Princess of Misrule during Foolish Fractured Fairy Tales, build a fairy house, collaborate with a storyteller to create an adventure or become a Knight or Lady of the Realm by the Queen herself.

While costumes are not necessary for admittance, thousands of people each year don garb from Elizabethan and other eras.  No need to plan ahead as costumes are for sale and rent at the Faire’s Marketplace.  More than 125 artisans dot the fairgrounds offering Renaissance and contemporary clothing, jewelry, home décor and original artwork.  Arts and crafts workshops such as Celtic drawing, beadwork and basket weaving are offered for all ages at Queen’s College.

Healthy appetites will welcome a roasted turkey leg – the meaty icon of the Faire – as they quench their thirst on their favorite ale or Port.  Twenty-three food vendors offer an array of foods from fish and chips and sausages to salads and sorbets.  Vegetarian and entrees and desserts are available.  An exclusive and riotous Pub Crawl is offered each day where cold spirits, lusty wenches, bawdy songs, drinking games and a guided tour are $25 per person and include one beverage of your choice at each of the five pubs visited.

Special themed weekends are planned, including:

April 16-17 Marketplace Weekend
For every $250 spent with the Faire’s merchants or artisans this weekend receive 2 free tickets to return to the Faire this season.

April 23-24; April 30-May 1
Swashbuckler Weekends
Legendary pirate/privateer Sir Francis Drake hosts our nautical friends in a special gathering to celebrate plunder on the high seas.  Pirates and privateers scour the Faire in search of the pieces of a treasure map.

Mother’s Day Weekend;
May 7-8 
Bacchanal Wine and Masquerade Weekend
Don laurels to celebrate the Roman god of wine, Bacchus. Participate in grape stomping, grape spitting and a roving wine tasting.

May 14-15 
Fantasy and Elizabethan Costume Competition Weekend
Those that make their own costumes can vie for prizes and favors.  Categories include mythical characters of legend, lore and other worlds as well as historical individuals from nobility to peasants. 

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the early modern period. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, the Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life. Its influence affected literature, philosophy, art, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry. In
England, the Elizabethan era (1558-1603) marked the beginning of the English Renaissance with the work of writers William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Sir Thomas More, Francis Bacon, Sir Philip Sidney, John Milton, as well as great artists, architects and composers.

Tickets for The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire are $25 for adults and $15 for children aged 5-12.  Children under the age of 5 are always free. Adult season passes are $130 and a child’s season pass is $65.  Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at www.renfair.com.  The seven-week Faire is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10 in the morn til 7 eventide April 9 – May 22 at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, 15501 Arrow Highway, Irwindale, CA.  A Vehicle Entry fee of $10 is charged by Los Angeles County.  For more information, visit www.renfair.com.

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