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Whether you’ve never been or you’ve been going since it opened in 1979, the Michigan Renaissance Festival is worth visiting this year. With timeless acts and ever-changing vendors and activities, each visit to the festival can be a completely unique and amazing experience. I’ve been going to the Michigan Renaissance Festival for the better side of a decade now, and I’m here to share why it should become a tradition for you as well.

 

1) It’s an immersive experience.

With everything from a jousting show to trying your hand at archery, this festival makes the past come alive with a snapshot of 16th century life. The Festival grounds are nestled in a wooded area, so as you approach from the parking areas it isn’t apparent what lies ahead. As you cross through the guarded front gates, however, you are teleported into a sizable village under the rule of Queen Elizabeth. Guests are offered maps with programs as they enter, which will help you understand the lay of the land and determine what types of entertainment sound exciting. There is a storyline revolving around the queen that goes on throughout the day, or guests can pick and choose which events they’d like to see and participate in. Outside of scheduled entertainment, there are numerous vendors to visit and games to play. Even if you don’t stop for a single show, the chances are good that you will interact with one of the performers that wander the streets as you go shop to shop. The cast of the Festival do a wonderful job of connecting with the guests, which helps you to embrace the experience.


The shops in the village offer unique goods.

 

I’m not kidding when I say the performers are everywhere.


2) You can dress up if you want to, or go casual.

I look at dressing up as one of the big perks of going to the Festival. It helps me feel more in-character and be a little more whimsical. That being said, you don’t have to dress up in a costume to have a great time. There will always be plenty of people there in street clothes, so don’t feel like you’ll be the odd one out if you don’t want to bust out a costume. I usually go to the Festival a couple times each year, and on the visit when I’m getting my annual henna tattoo, I usually prefer to not wear my garb, as it gives me more freedom in placement.


In full street clothes.

 

My favorite festival look was highlighted the following year by the vendor I purchased it from.

 

Also, outside of period clothing, some people wear other costumes to the Festival. I have seen Shrek and V from “V for Vendetta” wandering down the streets of Hollygrove in years past.