Get Ready for a Royally Good Time at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival

I used to think Renaissance festivals weren’t really my scene—at least until last year, when my teens asked me to take them to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival. Thanks to that experience, I’ve decided it’s going to become an annual tradition!

Each year, the Williamson County Parks & Recreation Department transforms a rural field into the 16th century village of Covington Glen, a colorful extravaganza of delicious food, fantastic live music, thrilling performances, artisan tents filled with jewels, swords, art, elaborate costumes, and even space for knights to joust on horseback for their ladies’ favor—a true festival highlight. 

There’s so much to do and see at the Renaissance Festival that I could easily have gone several times and still not experienced everything. I was amazed at all the activities and events the organizers managed to pack into one venue. But as much as I loved the festival activities, I had just as much fun people-watching. Many of the festival-goers wore costumes of their own, and clearly spent hours on their hair, clothing, and makeup. This year, scrolls will be given to those with the best costumes, and at 2 p.m. each day, the finalists will be presented to the Queen and her Royal Court, who will then choose the ultimate costume champion! 

Another unexpected surprise at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival was the amount of shade. When I think of outdoor festivals, I think of fields with little or no respite from the sun, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that parts of the Tennessee Renaissance Festival takes place beneath a glade of trees with several areas of shade to enjoy food and drinks, watch live shows, and shop. This made a huge difference in our enjoyment of the event last year on a day that turned out to be quite warm and sunny.

Speaking of shopping, I was unprepared for the quality of the Tennessee Renaissance Festival’s vendors and artisans. There were gorgeous Renaissance gowns, corsets, and accessories on display, handmade leather costumes, footwear, and outerwear for women and men, handcrafted horns, elf ears, jewelry, wooden mugs, kilts, candles, weapons, jewelry, and much more – all of the highest quality. If you love the Renaissance period, you will want to bring plenty of cash because most of the vendors can’t take cards due to the remoteness of the location. There are ATMs on site in case of a shopping emergency, but to avoid the surcharge, bring some green! You’ll also want to bring plenty of money for food and drinks; there are plenty of options, including barbecue, fried pies, ice cream, baked goods, and much more. 

Live entertainment is included in the cost of your ticket and it’s truly phenomenal. Many of the performers, like juggler Paolo Garbanzo and music group Empty Hats, are crowd favorites and return year after year. In addition to musicians, you can catch a knife-throwing show, a sword swallower, fairies, storytellers, and even Robin Hood and Queen Elizabeth I. New performers this year include a set of mermaids, a troll, and The Daring Horseman Duo, who will wow the crowd with bareback riding and acrobatic stunts atop his horse.

Special events this year include Fairy Training for kids ages 5-10 and the Queen’s Tea, which takes place at 3:30 p.m. each day in the Queen’s Pavilion and includes pastries, tea sandwiches, and desserts, along with live music and an audience with the Queen herself! New to the festival this year is the Queen’s Promenade, a dance course teaching the art of Regency-style dance that will be held the second, third, and fourth weekends of the festival as well as on Memorial Day. A youth session will be offered on those days at 11 a.m.; teens and adults are invited to the 1 p.m. session. Tickets for all of these special events must be purchased in advance. 

Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in May and on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. Daily general admission tickets start at $25 per adult and $5 for children ages 3-12. Children ages 2 and younger are admitted for free. It’s strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance since numbers are often limited at the gate to ensure the grounds are not overcrowded. Royal Court and Season Passes, good for admission on all nine days of the event, range from $100-$200 (depending on package benefits). Parking is free. The festival is held at Castle Park, 2135 New Castle Road in Arrington. For more information on this year’s festival and to purchase tickets, visit