renaissance faire costumes

renaissance faire clothing

medieval garb

Renaissance Faire Fun, Frolic & Fashion

Renaissance Faires & medieval festivals are the closest things we have to traditional first harvest celebrations. Along with plenty of good food and drink (you must try the mead!) you'll find jousting matches, wandering troubadors, storytellers, jugglers, bellydancers, musicians, puppet shows, traditional craft demonstrations & lots of friendly folks dressed in Renaissance or Medieval style, speaking in Olde English & Irish dialects and generally having a great time re-enacting a romantic version of life in the days of brave knights, fair maids, cheeky knaves & bawdy wenches.

My husband John and I took these pictures at the New York Renaissance Faire in Sterling Forest in Tuxedo, New York. These photos represent only a small portion of the all we did and saw; to appreciate a faire, you have to experience it for yourself. Once inside the gates you'll feel like you've entered an exotic alternate universe. The hardest thing about going to a Renaissance Faire is leaving! And it's even more fun if you make an effort to dress up a little (or a lot!) so I've also included links to online stores selling some beautiful fantasy costumes, jewelry and props.

costumes for renaissance faires

That's me hiding behind an ostrich feather fan at one of the many vendor booths. Some of the merchandise for sale at Renaissance Faires can be pricey, but so much of it is unique & beautiful, it's hard to resist. If you're a shopaholic like me, just bring what you can afford to spend in cash and leave the charge cards at home :-)

costumes for renaissance fairs

We heard music everywhere we went. There were groups like this one, performing on the balcony of a pub. (Inside you could buy ale and mead, which is a kind of wine made from honey.) There were also lone troubadors wandering the faire grounds looking for pretty ladies to serenade.

renaissance costumes

And of course every fair has at least one bellydancer accompanied by middle eastern drums, gypsy guitars & flutes. Most of the performers at Renn Faires are very talented, and some are professional dancers, singers & musicians.

This living chess game featured royals, nobles, clergy and peasants as the "pieces" When a piece moved into a square where there is already a piece, the two pieces fought for the square. Fights ranged from verbal battles to the clashing of swords and the audience, divided into teams, cheered and hooted for "their" side and trash talked the opposition. All in Renaissance style of course :-)

medieval costumes

John gets fitted for some Pan horns. As you probably know, Pan is a noisy, merry, lusty god, part human and part goat. Most comfortable in wild places, he is also a wonderful musician, accompanying woodland nymphs on reed pipes while they danced.

No, this isn't one of those dancing woodland nymphs, just me on my way to a Hallowe'en party last year. But since lots of people dress in fantasy costumes at Renaissance Faires, I might just wear this outfit next time. Lord of the Rings inspired costumes are especially popular, especially Elvish designs. And I also saw quite a few Renaissance romantigoths wearing long black dresses with shredded hems so a Stevie Nicks-ish Rhiannon outfit would be a fun costume too.

My own collection of handcrafted earrings & necklaces inspired by the natural healing properties of the stones and the magic of dance, music & rhythm... they're made to move with you :-)

Costuming Resources

Medieval Weapon Art TM
Medieval Weapon Art not only has an amazing assortment of swords & armor, they also sell beautiful Renaissance and Medieval garb... dresses, bodices, chemises & jewelry for women; "pirate" shirts, jerkins, doublets and breeches for men and boots, shoes & hats for everybody.

Renaissance Faires usually feature excellent bellydancers. If you've been inspired to learn or are in search of inspiring Middle Eastern music, check out my Learn To Bellydance page.

Renaissance & Medieval inspired Music

Blackmore's Night Blackmore's Night Renaissance music Renaissance Faire music

The Renaissance inspired music of Blackmore's Night ranges from infectious gypsy dance songs to dreamily romantic mistrel tunes. Some of my favorites are Shadow of the Moon, Under a Violet Moon, Fires at Midnight and their latest CD Ghost of a Rose.

Renaissance & Medieval Dances

Medieval and Renaissance Dances
for Recorders, Dancers, and Hand Drums
by Isabel McNeill Carley

Renaissance Dances
For Dancers Young and Old with CD
by Isabel McNeill Carley

Courtly Dance of the Renaissance
A New Translation and Edition of the Nobilta Di Dame (1600)
by Fabritio Caroso

Books about Costuming & Life during Elizabethan & Medieval Times

Medieval Celebrations
How to Plan for Holidays, Weddings, and Reenactments
With Recipes, Customs, Costumes, Decorations, Songs, Dances, and Games
by Daniel Diehl & Mark Donnelly

Medieval Tailor's Assistant
Making Common Garments 1200-1500
by Sarah Thursfield

Medieval Costume in England and France
The 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries
by Mary G. Houston

Elizabethan Costuming
for The Years 1550 - 1580
by Janet Winter

Patterns of Fashion
The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women C1560-1620
by Janet Arnold

Authentic Everyday Dress of the Renaissance
All 154 Plates from the "Trachtenbuch"
by Christoph Weiditz

Historic Costume (CD-ROM and Book)
From Ancient Times to the Renaissance
by Tom Tierney

Life in a Medieval Castle
by Joseph Gies

Daily Life in Elizabethan England
by Jeffrey L. Singman

Dressing Renaissance Florence
Families, Fortunes, and Fine Clothing
by Carole Collier Frick

Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony
by Madeleine Pelner

The Medieval Wedding Guide
by Vanessa Hand

Shoes and Pattens
Finds from Medieval Excavations in London
by Francis Grew & Margrethe de Neergaard; illustrated by Susan Mitford

by Brian R. Price

Renaissance Swordsmanship
The Illustrated Book Of Rapiers And Cut And Thrust Swords And Their Use
by John Clements

Renaissance Lives: Portraits of an Age
by Theodore K. Rabb

Uppity Women of the Renaissance
by Vicki Leon

Uppity Women of Medieval Times
by Vicki Leon