What to See and Do at the Ohio Renaissance Festival

Anthony Dominic

We've packed the best of this year's Ohio Renaissance Festival (Aug. 30 to Oct. 19) into a merry daytrip to the 16th century.

The gates to Harveysburg's Renaissance Park (aka the village of Willy-Nilly) don't open until 10:30 a.m., but arrive a few minutes early for a royal welcome from Elizabeth I of England and her cohort at the opening-gate ceremony. Once inside, head to Thirsty Wench Pub for some Scotch eggs, and then make your way to Swordsman Theatre for the 11 a.m. duel. The combatants, Dirk and Guido, are festival favorites for their wit as well as their prowess, says Cheryl Bucholtz, vice president of marketing.

"Wherever you are, you'll hear the bagpipes," Bucholtz says of the daily parade. Composed of every festival participant and character, the quarter-mile-long parade makes its way throughout the park's 30 acres.

Unwind with a stroll around Market Square, perusing handcrafted jewelry, footwear and masks from dozens of festival vendors. (Look for the glass-blower's shop, which can even accommodate custom requests.) Grab some fish and chips for lunch at the New World Knoll, and then make your way to the Arena of Champions for the 3 p.m. joust. (Bucholtz recommends arriving 10 to 15 minutes early for a good seat.) The royal court will keep score as two knights go head-to-head in equestrian games, culminating with a joust. Afterward, there's a meet-and-greet with the combatants and their horses.

For dinner, visit the Bread Bowl for comfort food like beef and chili stew and mac and cheese. Afterward, kick back with a pint of Guinness at The Aleing Knight and enjoy the pub-sing. "Many of the villagers participate," Bucholtz says. "It's a sendoff for everyone who was there that day." The festival ends each day at 5:30 p.m. with the closing-gate ceremony.