Want to put your characters in the Middle Ages but don't want to shoe horn the complications of time travel in? Then send them to the Renaissance Fair.
Ren faires (known by many other names) vary greatly in their oeuvre from one site to another, but in general they are The Theme Park Version of medieval and renaissance history, more concerned with putting on a show and selling turkey legs than presenting an accurate historical narrative, which is only fair as they are technically theme parks of a sort. They are often confused with, and can somewhat overlap with, historical reenactment sites, which do attempt to recreate and educate with regard to real history. Despite being named for The Renaissance, most faires borrow their visuals primarily from The High Middle Ages, as it bears such iconic features as castles, knights in shining armor, princesses in ridiculously fancy outfits, court jesters, etc. The actors may have a tendency to take their roles a bit too seriously, or not seriously enough. Some might decry that there's too much fantasy afoot while others will loathe that it's too filthy, some will be unamused at the lack of technology but others, be they geeky/nerdy, history buffs, or Mr. Imagination, might find it fun. A great excuse for the Classically-Trained Extra to quote some Shakespeare if the need so arise.
Also see, War Reenactors.
Note: What most people think of when it comes to renaissance fairs is primarily an American thingnote . In Europe at least, stuff like historical fairs tend to be more like living history museums (including taking place at actual historical sites).
- In Herbie Rides Again, Herbie wants to put the fear in Willoughby to prove he's alive by taking him to a Chicken Tournament Jousting which is a combination of Renaissance Jousting and Chicken Car Game.
- Part of the Secret Series book "This Isn't What It Looks Like" takes place at a ren-faire. Max-Ernest sees a poster that says "Eat, drink and be medieval!" and grumbles about people mixing up the Renaissance with the Middle Ages.
- One episode of Cupcake Wars celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Los Angeles Renaissance Faire.
- The Big Bang Theory episode "The Codpiece Topology" opens with the guys returning from a ren faire in full costume. Sheldon found it too anachronistic for his tastes and refuses to return, until Raj convinces him that he can go as Mr. Spock exploring a planet similar to Medieval-era Earth.
Howard: Renaissance fairs aren't about historical accuracy, they're about taking chubby girls who work at Kinko's and lacing them up in corsets so tight, their bosom jumps out and says "howdy!"
Sheldon: Bosoms would not have said "howdy" in the 15th century. If anything, they would have said "huzzah!"
- Scorpion had an episode with the gang attending one as part of celebrating Sylvester's birthday.
- Mythbusters once visited a Renaissance Festival while testing the Splitting the Arrow trope, in order to draw on the pool of traditional archery practitioners there. Tory set up a contest to split an arrow that was set into a target, promising a kiss from Kari as a reward, which he quickly redacted when she gave him a Death Glare. Despite great skill from the competitors and many attempts, none were able to split an arrow completely.
- How I Met Your Mother: Ted Mosby enjoys going to Renaissance fairs and once comes to his apartment dressed as a jester with a ball-and-chain flail, claiming that he won the weapon in some contest. He immediately smashes it into the ceiling. The Mother eventually turns out to also enjoy attending fairs, and even owns a chainmail corset, hinting at how she and Ted are perfect for each other.
- Gilmore Girls: Luke's sister Liz makes jewellery that she sells in the Renaissance Faire circuit. Her boyfriend T.J. travels with her. They come to Stars Hollow to have a Renaissance-themed wedding ceremony. Liz and T.J. are considered quirky oddballs even by Stars Hollow's standard, but most residents do find their wedding sweet after all.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 has a Running Gag of mocking Renaissance Fairs during their movie-riffing. Whenever they're unimpressed with the costumes or props in a low-budget fantasy film, they'll joke that the filmmakers got them directly from the local Ren Fair.
- In Pod People (an 80s sci-fi movie), they note that one of the poachers looks like he belongs in a Ren Fair, and they turn "Huzzah!" into his catchphrase.
- Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell gets particularly vicious. The robots set up their own Ren Fair on the Satellite of Love, charging absurd prices for lackluster goods and attractions ($5 to watch Tom Servo juggle for a few seconds, or $12.50 for a half-eaten turkey leg) and constantly insulting the only customer, Mike, to his face. Somehow, Mike thinks this is the greatest thing ever and keeps forking over the cash.
- Quest of the Delta Knights, which was filmed at a California Ren Faire, elicits many such comments.
- Doctor Who: Sarah Jane Smith actually accuses Irongron and his henchmen of running one of these (not aware yet that the TARDIS is a time machine) in "The Time Warrior", and even goes so far as to critique them for going so too far into character, and urges them to move away from an emphasis on The Dung Ages. She learns pretty quickly just how completely wrong she is.
- Chuck: In "Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil" Jeff and Lester sabotage Morgan's efforts to find a roommate by altering his Craigslist ad to recruit members from a local Ren Fair in an effort to meet women.
- Leverage: Redemption has one episode partially set at a ren faire based around a Magic: The Gathering expy. Eliot gets to fight the bad guy's goons with swords and armor.
- Loki (2021): The Variant ambushes a squad of TVA Minutemen at a Ren Fair in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1985. One of the fair-goers tells off the TVA because their sci-fi gear is out of place among the historical costumes.
- In Mike & Molly, Mike and his patrol partner Carl get on the wrong side of their police captain and are sent to be the police presence at the local Ren Fair. Apparently it is one of the Captain's favourite punishment assignments.
- "Renaissance Fair" by The Byrds is an impressionistic account of attending one.
Maids pass gracefully in laughter
Wine-colored flowers in their hair
Flags call from lands I've never been to
- The music video for "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats is filled with ren faire and British folk revival vibes.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's "White and Nerdy" has the narrator mention he spends every weekend at one of these.
- The Museum of Everything: The episode "The Coach Trip" is set at Chaversham Medieval Fair and features appropriately themed sketches, such as one about the petty tyrant who runs the jousting demonstration and his long-suffering partner who's been strong-armed into being the losing knight every time.
- The French theme park Puy du Fou is all about celebrating French history this way.
- Full Frontal Nerdity had a story arc about the protagonists going to a Ren Fair. Hilarity Ensues when Lewis refuses to bow for the king and queen.
- An early story arc in Dork Tower saw the boys, Gilly, and Kayleigh go to one of these. Matt ended up getting a bard drunk and depressed with his story of how his love life has been recently (a bard that's supposed to be performing children's songs), and Carson runs afoul of a falcon when he goes to a falconer's show.
- Bad Lip Reading: "Medieval Land Fun-Time World", the BLR treatment of Game of Thrones, is one of these. Don't call it a Renaissance Fair around Eddie, though.
- Bernadette Banner's "Remember when renaissance faires were a thing?" is a video made during 2020's COVID pandemic lockdown, reminiscing about being able to gather in large groups with video from the previous year's New York faire.
- One episode of Regular Show has the park put on a fair but Pops thinks he's traveled back in time and the others can't tell him otherwise because they have to stay in character.
- In the What's New, Scooby-Doo? episode "Large Dragon at Large" the gang heads to a faire where a dragon is terrorizing everyone.
- "Faire Play" from Rugrats has the babies go to a faire because Stu has created a mechanical dragon to take part in one of their shows.
- Family Guy did one in "Mr Saturday Knight". Peter loses his job at the toy factory because his boss died so he decides to pursue his dream of being a Renaissance Faire knight.
- One episode of The Grim Adventuresof Billy And Mandy, the gang goes to a faire where Grim gives Billy "The Armor of The Black Knight", which won't come off until he beats someone in a challenge.
- King of the Hill: "Joust Like A Woman" saw Hank being given a lucrative opportunity to provide a local Ren fair with propane to power up a giant fire-breathing dragon. Hank thinks it's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. Peggy decides to volunteer to work for the fair, but soon discovers that the "King" who rules over the land enforces very strict role-playing and staying in character at all times, especially when they're off the clock. This meant enforcing extremely misogynistic social standards against the women, which Peggy and other women eventually took a stand against.
- "Knighty Knight" from The Fairly OddParents! It begins at a ren-faire but Timmy winds up quickly unimpressed so he wishes to go back to the real middle ages. Trouble arises when his parents (who were accidentally brought along) get kidnapped by a dragon.
- Daria: In the episode "Fair Enough", Daria and Jane attend the Lawndale High Renaissance Fair. They get annoyed by Up Chuck who's dressed as a wandering minstrel and keeps trying to woo them with his serenading. Eventually, they end up getting stuck on the Ferris wheel with a hysterically sobbing Stacy.
- The Simpsons: The episode "Lisa's Wedding" begins with the Simpson family attending Springfield's pathetic attempt at a Renaissance Fair. Bart is not impressed, but Marge starts weaving and enjoys the hell out of it. Homer loves all the food. Lisa is interested in mythological creatures.
Wiggum: Alight your gaze on yonder fabled beasts of yore. Behold the rarest of the rare the mythological two-headed hound, born with only one head. And here, out of the mists of history, the legendary esquilax: A horse with the head of a rabbit and the body of a rabbit.
- In the Clarence episode "Ren Faire": Clarence and his pals venture to the Aberdale Renaissance Faire. Clarence confuses a medieval play for reality, and vows to stop the "evil" black knight from getting the princess.
- One episode of Johnny Bravo has the title character find himself in a Renaissance festival. Being the clueless, self-absorbed Heroic Wannabe he is, he assumes he's been transported to the Middle Ages and tries to mess around with the participants. And the king, Brad, is complaining about how uncomfortable his costume is.
- The Arthur episode "The Return of the King" features Arthur and his classmates going to the local medieval fair for a field trip, which turns into a competition between Mr. Ratburn and his former teacher from Glenbrooke Elementary. During each of the contests, Arthur and his pals compete with their own doppelgangers and lose... until Arthur pulls out the Sword in the Stone and becomes the King of the Fair.
- "#FreshPrincessOfRenFaire" from DC Super Hero Girls (2019). The girls go to a Renn Faire where Diana bemoans it's inaccuracy, Kara stuffs herself with turkey legs, and Zee is hunted down by a dragon who wants to eat a princess.
- Star Trek: Lower Decks reveals that an entire planet got colonized by Ren Fair geeks, Hysperia (it has dragons, though as we never see the planet in person, it's unclear if they were native to the planet or if they were genetically engineered afterwards). As it turns out, chief engineer Andy Billups is the crown prince of the planet, but opted to Abdicate the Throne and join Starfleet since that was where he wanted to be (much to the annoyance of his mother, Queen Paolana). Their ship is a Starship Luxurious (with terminology used to imply it's magic and not technology), they have feasts and bards, etc.