In addition to the pike lessons, we all learned how to make rope, how to play an old German dice game, and how to use various other medieval weapons. Not to put too fine a point on it, but at a Renaissance festival, you get to gamble and play with swords, and pass it off as educational.
There’s usually some Game of Thrones thrown in, too.
Some Renaissance festivals care deeply about authenticity, and the performers strive to get everything historically correct, right down to the buttons and stitches. Others take a looser approach, and soak their festival through with the fantastic, whether it’s mermaids or fictional characters or vaudeville acts that have nothing to do with Elizabethan England.
“The recent success of Marvel’s cinematic universe encouraged us to dedicate a weekend to ‘Time Travelers’ from other universes,” says Matt Siegel, the director of marketing and entertainment for the Carolina Renaissance Festival. “So now we’ve got cosplayers dressed as superheroes, villains, stormtroopers, Harry Potters, Dr. Whos, and characters from Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, etc.”