RenFest presents: Pirates, pets, pubs

By Giovanna Brasolin

From Feb. 6 to March 31, the Tampa Bay Area Renaissance Festival will celebrate its 41 anniversary by bringing  food, attractions, various characters and special daily events geared towards people of all ages.

Each weekend of the festival will have a different theme – the opening weekend will be all about Scotland and is called Highland Fling. It will feature Scottish heavy games such as caber toss, dancers, bagpipes and drum bands.

“Besides from entertainment side of things, you get a different mixture of education and entertainment at events like these,” said Kim Heidger, Marketing Director at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival. “You hardly see people on their phones as there are many things to see and do.”

There will also be many vendors that will be selling Scottish themed items. The second weekend will be Pirate and Pets themed. It will include wiener dog races, a pet costume contest and vendors selling items related to both pirates and pets.

“I went to the festival three years ago and I really liked it,” said Maya Patel, junior molecular biology major. “I loved how people were excited and dressed up for the occasion.”

This year’s festival will also feature an all-new Game of Thrones themed feast on March 9 at 3 p.m. during the Barbarian Brew Festival. Other daily events include Pub Crawls, Happy Hour, Pig ‘N’ Swing, Royal High Tea, Renaissance Romance and a Royal Masquerade Ball. All special events require the purchase of an additional ticket that can cost anywhere between $20-85.

“I would say come out to the Bay Area Renaissance Festival and escape into a fantasy,” said Caroline Jett, Entertainment Director of the Bay Area Renaissance Festival. “Just come in here where we can all be kids again for a while, run around, play dress up and forget about our cares for a while. Just be joyful and exuberant. That’s what it’s all about.”

General admission tickets are $21.95 for adults and $13.95 for children, but the festival has discount options, including student discounts starting at $17.95 with a valid college ID. The first three weekends will have a blood drive in which anyone who donates blood will get a free ticket and those who donate non-perishable foods and toiletries will be eligible to buy one ticket and get one free.

When it comes to food, the Bay Area Renaissance Festival features a wide variety that goes from typical festival foods such as burgers, fries and pizza, to turkey legs, spinach pies and Scotch eggs, as well as vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.

The festival begins on March 29 and will be open to the general public. Schools can come and engage in 30-minute classes given onstage. The subjects include Renaissance History 101, costuming, dance, music, knight classes and food. These classes are offered during the festival because every staff and cast member had to learn all about what is being taught and that’s a means of educating people in a fun way outside a classroom.

Giovanna Brasolin can be reached at

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