New York Renaissance Faire runs weekends at Sterling Forest

Some 400-plus years after the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603), the era known as hers lives on in playful homage at the New York Renaissance Faire, currently celebrating its 35th season at Sterling Forest in Tuxedo Park. Billed as “a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England,” the Renaissance Fair provides a multisensory experience for the visitor: part-crafts fair and part-historical reenactment, with elements of performance art and just-plain-old-escapist fun thrown in for good measure.

“Oh, it’s complete escapism,” says Michelle Guidera, an enthusiast of the Renaissance Faire. “You know when it’s over you’re going to get in your car and go back to your everyday life, but while you’re there, you’re living in the moment. It’s like a window into another time.”

The premise of the Faire is that one is visiting the imagined 435-year-old village of Sterling, set amid 65 acres of the forest. The buildings of the village are permanently built, and the grounds in New York are used only for the Faire every year.

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Much of the activity is interactive, inviting a response in kind. (Inward-directed contemplative types may be startled by the degree of participation asked of them as they roam the fairgrounds.) The entertainers will often speak to visitors in authentic era dialect, sometimes playfully bawdy in the spirit of the times. Visitors can dress as they please, of course, but some choose to dress in period garb similar to that of the entertainers, adding to the overall spectacle. Jugglers, musicians, magicians and mimes perform, surrounding nearly 10,000 visitors per day in a sea of colorful revelry.

The entertainment includes tall tales, stories and songs, games of skill, an archery tournament, belly dancers and a silent “spirit” who plays the carillon. Peasants dance at the Maypole, inviting kids and adults alike to participate. The entire village turns out to welcome Queen Elizabeth and her court, who open the Royal Joust. Melodious madrigals are performed, and a master storyteller is hidden in the trees near a giant chessboard. Master falconer Steve Hody demonstrates feats of birds of prey, and there is even an Elizabethan-era talk show, Chit-Chat, conducted by Mother Do-Good and Lady Kat Ashley.

The 35th annual New York Renaissance Faire is currently open for the season, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day Monday through September 23. Tickets cost $22 for adults, $11 for children ages 5 to 12. Kids under age 5 get in free. A discount for advance ticket purchase online is available, and select Walgreen’s stores offer discounted tickets as well. A season pass for the dedicated enthusiast (good for all 17 days of the Faire) costs $110, a 70 percent savings. For more information, visit www.renfair.com or call (845) 351-5171.

The 35th annual New York Renaissance Faire, located in Sterling Forest at Tuxedo Park on Route 17A, offers Elizabethan era reenactment, revelry, crafts, food and interactive entertainment. It’s currently open for the season from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day Monday through September 23. Tickets cost $22 for adults, $11 for children ages 5 to 12. Kids under age 5 get in free. Discount tickets are available with advance purchase online. A season pass good for all 17 days of the Faire costs $110. For more information, visit www.renfair.com or call (845) 351-5171.

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