The 37th Annual Central Coast Renaissance Festival will roll the calendar back 450 years on July 15 and 16, 2023, in San Luis Obispo's Laguna Lake Park.
Relax on a shady hay bale and watch riotous stage plays and hilarious comedy acts throughout the village. You’ll see authentic Elizabethan dancing, plays, singing, a falconry show, magic, juggling, and crazy buffoonery. Throughout the village, you’ll see living history demonstrations. The entertainment is amazing and continuous throughout the day. It doesn’t just happen on the stages, it is in the streets and throughout the village at every turn.
See knights in full battle armor demonstrating their fighting skills. This is a hugely popular event. You might have seen them on the History Channel’s series, Knight Fight. These are the best of the best at their game. These guys aren’t messing around. Using steel swords, axes, and polearms, combatants are permitted to strike with weapons, shields, fists, and feet, until the last man is standing. Shows are held twice daily, at 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM.
You’ll be delighted by the finest craftsmen selling unique arts, crafts, and sundry goods. From hand-thrown pottery to drinking vessels, there is something for every taste and budget. Gentlemen always enjoy shopping from the sword and leather merchants, while ladies can’t resist the array of fine clothing and jewelry. You can even have your hair braided into the most beautiful designs and get a henna tattoo. You’re sure to find a special gift for yourself and someone else. Most vendors accept credit cards.
Sunday is Pirate Day Both days will transport you back to the 16th century, in the age of Queen Elizabeth in England, but on Sunday the emphasis shifts to pirates and vendors will bring out pirate wares and many will dress as pirates. Both days are a magical experience.
There is something for all ages. We didn’t forget the youngsters, who will enjoy face painting, storytelling, a magic show, and games just for them.
Dress them up for the very popular children’s costume contest where everyone gets something and the winners take away top prizes.
There’s also a free Pirate’s Treasure Hunt for kids on Sunday. Every child will receive a Booty Bag to collect their treasures in and keep. There is no cost to participate and the booty is something they’ll treasure (pun intended) for years.
Treat your taste buds to a bounty of delicious foods. With all this excitement you are sure to get hungry and we’re prepared to please any palate. A wide variety of delicious food, including the festival's favorite roasted turkey legs, meat pies, fruit pastries, and more will be available, along with ale, beer, cider, wine, honey mead, and refreshing non-alcoholic drinks.
Costumes Are Welcome But Are Not Required
Now don’t think that you have to wear a costume to attend the festival. This is not true! Only the participants putting on and participating in the festival are required to wear costumes (we call it “garb”). You may come as you wish.
However ... you are more than welcome to come in a full costume, or perhaps a woman might simply wear a peasant blouse or skirt, or a hair wreath or straw hat that makes you feel more a part of the fantasy.
Check out Goodwill and thrift stores for some inexpensive costume pieces. There are plenty of vendors at the festival who have everything you might wish to purchase, from hats, shirts, bodices, and breeches to handmade boots and shoes, drinking vessels, and anything else needed to become an Elizabethan at any level from peasant to nobility. Look through the photos on this website for some ideas. Here is a collage of photos from past festivals.
Purchase an inexpensive, ready-made costume here. If you do want to put together a costume, we highly recommend Elizabethan Costuming For The Years 1550-1580 as your guide (it’s also a good shopping guide). It is the best costuming book available for creating a Renaissance costume. You can order it by clicking here.