The Colorado Renaissance Festival is set to kick off its 36th season this weekend, offering old-fashioned revelry in a spectacular outdoor setting.
The festival, held in nearby Larkspur, celebrates 16th-century style -- with jousters, jesters, minstrels and maidens roaming the grounds to dazzle patrons.
Arts and crafts are also a big part of the festival and a variety of artisans displays their work, including glassblowing, wood and leather working, pottery, blacksmithing and fine arts.
“We have something for everyone,” says Jim Paradise, the festival’s director of marketing. “There are things here that you can’t experience anywhere else in the state.”
Here we run down the Top 5 tips for a memorable step back in time.
Question: What can’t I miss at this year’s renaissance festival?
Answer: Three acts, Paradise says, are the must-see entertainment of the 2012 season.
-- The endangered cat show. Found at the festival’s Castle Rose stage, the show seeks to raise awareness for rare and endangered feline species. Spectators can expect to see appearances from the black panther, caracal, lynx and other exotic cats.
-- The Washing Well Wenches. At the Washing Well stage, Winnie and Myrtle (played by Kerri Slavin and Sara Sincel, respectively) make their laundry chores fun.
-- Arsene of Paris. Don’t miss this renowned juggling mime, sly illusionist and sharp comedian. Look for Arsene’s show at the Globe stage.
Q: When is the best time to go? Now or should I wait until later in the summer?
A: To avoid the biggest crowds, consider visiting earlier in the summer. Paradise notes that the festival tends to be busiest towards the end of its season, with the final two weekends being the most crowded. Saturdays also tend to be busier than Sundays.
Q: Which attractions generally have the longest lines?
A: Returning traditions, such as the jousting events and sword fighters Puke & Snot, continue to attract long lines, so be sure to plan ahead. The endangered cat show, energetic band Celtic Legacy and the Washing Well Wenches are also quite popular and often attract crowds. The festival has a variety of lively entertainment options, though, so you’ll never run out of things to do. Find a complete summary of the Colorado Renaissance Festival’s acts and shows at their website.
Q: What else is there to take in?
A: While enjoying the array of entertainment options and art displays, don’t forget about the festival’s food and drink. Highlights include steak on a stake, sausage on a stick, roasted corn and an assortment of ales. The festival’s most popular food item, by far, is their grilled turkey drumsticks. Approximately 100,000 turkey legs are served over the course of the summer.
Q: Where can I get the best bang for my buck?
A: While the entire event is a great value, Paradise says, you can’t miss “an Italian ice on a summer day.” Sometimes referred to as “orange balls,” these sweets are tasty and refreshing.
Q: What’s the best way to get there?
A: From Colorado Springs, take Interstate 25 and get off at Exit 172 to Larkspur. To avoid heavy traffic, though, you may want to consider approaching from the south, by way of Palmer Lake. From Colorado Springs, take Exit 161 off Interstate 25 to Monument. Follow Highway 105 until you reach Highway 18; turn north. Continue on Highway 18. Turn west onto Larkspur Road. Larkspur Road eventually becomes West Perry Park Avenue.
For more details on the fair go to coloradosprings.com