GOLD CANYON — Jousting knights, 16th century maidens, food, crafts, games, people-powered rides and interactive entertainment are all part of the fun at the 32nd annual Arizona Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace in Gold Canyon.

The festival, which opened for its eight-week season on Feb. 8, is a medieval-style amusement park on a 30-acre parcel. It includes a Renaissance village, Fairhaven, and 14 stages for entertainment as well as a marketplace and eateries all aimed at making attendees feel as though they’ve traveled back in time to a storybook version of the 16th century.

Jousting competitions are held three times every day in a 5,000-seat arena and include galloping horses and a chance to meet the winning knight.

Entertainment at the festival includes singing, dancing, falconry, balancing acts, acrobats with cats and rats, comedy, hypnotists and other entertainment. A show entitled “The Puppies of Penzance” is a fictional tale about a pirate ship manned by dogs that plays out on one stage. “Shamus the Insulter” walks through the festival offering insults to some of those he encounters.

The festival is one of the largest fairs of its type in Arizona and the following guide includes the information needed to experience the fun.

  • Location — 12601 E. U.S. 60 in Gold Canyon, about 7 miles east of Apache Junction.
  • Hours — Gates are open, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Presidents Day through March 29.
  • Admission — Advance purchase tickets are $26 for adults and $16 for children ages 5-12 and may be purchased at Fry’s stores. Tickets purchased at the festival box office will cost $2 more per ticket.
  • What to expect — An admission ticket includes parking, access to all entertainment shows including tournament jousting. Food, rides and games are an additional expense.
  • What’s to eat — The festival includes more than a dozen food purveyors with fun names like King’s Kitchen, The Cappuccino Inn, Tudor Rose Pub and the Dancing Pig Pub, each selling a range of food items. The Joust Kitchen has one of the largest selections with soup-filled bread bowls, gouda macaroni and cheese, pizza, taco salad, roasted turkey legs and an item called “dragon chops,” which is described as a bone-in smoked pork loin chop. The Pirate’s Kitchen and Pub serves eggs, fish, shrimp, pork shanks and roasted chicken. Pubs serve soda, iced tea, lemonade, wine and a selection of beers. Attendees may not bring outside food or beverages into the fair.
  • Festival Marketplace — The marketplace includes more than 200 specialty shops selling a variety of items such as tapestry, goblets, leather goods, jewelry and hand-made wares. Some shops include demonstrations of weaving, woodcarving, blacksmithing, candle-making, pottery, glassblowing and other arts.
  • Costumes — Attendees may wear comfortable, every-day attire or dress in costume. Costumes are available for rent at the Belrose Costume Shop located on the festival grounds. Prices vary.
  • Special weekends — Special festival theme weekends are: Regal Royals, Feb. 15, 16 and 17; Time Traveler, Feb. 22 and 23; Pirate Invasion, Feb. 29 and March 1; BrewFest, March 7 and 8; Celtic Weekend, March 14 and 15; Commedia Dell’Arte weekend, March 21 and 22 and Final Huzzah, March 28 and 29.
  • Pet policy — Pets are not allowed at the fair.
  • Parking — Free.
  • More information

— The festival website,

, has the answers to most questions. Tickets may also be purchased on the festival website.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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