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Huzzah! After nearly a year of festival cancellations, Medieval cosplay dorks like me are rejoicing after hearing the news that the Tampa Bay Area Renaissance Festival is making a comeback for the 2021 season.
According to the event's official Instagram page, the 43rd year of this festival will be held on the weekends in Pasco County at the Withlacoochee River Park starting on April 17 and ending over a month later on May 23. Hours are slated to be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. rain or shine, and those with unused tickets from 2020 can present them for admission this year.
"The show will go on! The Bay Area Renaissance Festival is relocating to the spectacular, ancient forest of Withlacoochee River Park. Please join us as we partner with Pasco County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources for a once in a lifetime celebration. This year the Festival will relocate from MOSI," a portion of one of their posts reads.
Withlacoochee River Park is in Dade City, about an hour drive north of Tampa.
As usual, the festival will be featuring an array of artisans, cosplayers, and entertainment including the joust, jugglers, magiciations, and food (aka massive turkey legs fit for a viking).
Each weekend will have a "theme," and per the Instagram post above, this year you can look forward to: Wine, Romance & Song, Pirates & Pups, Barbarian Brew, Shamrocks & Shenanigans, High Seas Adventure and Wonders of the World.
This is a dog-friendly event, however, it's a little bit of extra work (and money) to bring Fido. You will have to fill out a dog registration form and pay $10 fee per dog, plus you will have to bring proof of rabies vaccination. No other pets are allowed on festival grounds. More info on their pet policy here.
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I have been to the Bay Area Ren Fest for the past two years in a row and always have a blast. I expect this year to be a little different due to social distancing and mask policies, but I still plan on making the best of it. I highly recommend dressing up and using the opportunity to take some really cool, enchanting photos and videos! Also, the joust is a highlight that you won't want to miss --so totally put that on your itinerary. I hope the Washing Wenches are making an appearance this year, that's one of the most iconically comedic shows in the lineup!
Oh, and you can buy costumes at the fair, but they're usually very expensive (I bought a two-piece corset and dress and it was over $180). If you want to go prepared, check out what Amazon is offering for a fraction of the cost. I've been eyeing up this plague doctor outfit, I mean, what's more fitting than that this year?
Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased in advance here. Adult tickets are $22.95, children 5-12 $14.95, four and under are free. Parking is also free!