Get ready to be hurled back in time as the 2023 Bay Area Renaissance Festival is back for its 45th season in Tampa Bay returning once again to Pasco County weekends from February 18, 2023, to April 2, 2023. Each weekend will deliver to attendees a unique theme with events, music, live entertainment, food and drink, and characters fresh out of a 16th century European village. Events are held Saturday and Sunday weekly from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. rain or shine at the Festival grounds located at 12838 Auton Road in Dade City. Parking is free with advance tickets available at participating Circle K locations and online at the Festival website.
The Bay Area Renaissance Festival, which draws as many as 80,000 festival attendees annually, has been wowing locals and visitors alike since the charming village of Fittlesworth was first introduced in 1979 in its original home of Largo, Florida. Over the decades, the Festival has changed locations and festival management, growing in popularity so much that five weekends of entertainment has been expanded to seven weekends.
This year’s Festival lineup treats visitors to 15 stages of live entertainment to include a wide variety of activities celebrating the medieval period such as juggling, magic and music, as well as full contact, live armored jousting held daily in the arena at 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. In addition to the fun and excitement of these featured activities, more than 100 artisans in the marketplace will be sharing their handcrafted goods for guests to browse and purchase. Guests may also dress up in family-friendly costumes to take part in daily costume contests. Dates and times for contests are located in each theme weekend’s schedule to be posted as soon as it is available on the Festival website.
Each weekend offers attendees a different theme: Highland Fling (Feb. 18-19), Pups, Pirates & Pints (Feb. 25-26), Wine, Chocolate & Romance (Mar. 4-5), Viking Invasion (Mar. 11-12), Shamrocks & Shenanigans (Mar. 18-19), Once Upon a Time (Mar. 25-26) and High Seas Adventure Bon Voyage (Apr. 1-2). Additional ticketed events are taking place during some of the themed weekends including Vow Renewal and Marriage En Mass during Wine, Chocolate & Romance weekend. Couples will have an opportunity to say ‘I Do’ again or for the first time along with several other couples at these unique events taking place right there on festival grounds.
This year, Festival organizers introduce a few new features. Its Swordmaster Challenge will invite attendees to challenge swordmasters for a chance to win their badge and earn a scroll. Since the Festival is designed to offer fun for all ages, a petting zoo and Children’s Realm have been added to its already hearty offerings of 50+ family-friendly activities such as a maze, escape room, archery, spear throw, pony rides, chess field, and more. There also will be ongoing mural, fairy house and banner competitions for guests to take part. Details are available on the Festival website.
Some exciting fan favorite activities be returning to wow guests including the Wheel of Death, Knightwings Flight featuring live Birds of Prey onstage, and the Haywire Circus. Artisans will have shops set up onsite along the winding marketplace throughout the village selling jewelry, leather work, and other handcrafted goods.
For some goers, the most enticing attractions at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival reside on the plate or in the cup in front of them. This year’s diverse menu offers four main food areas – Jouster’s Walk, Queen’s Court, Dragon’s Nest, and the Bakery. Beer aficionados can take part in Mead Tastings, held daily at 3:30 p.m. for $45 per person, and Pub Crawls held daily at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and led by a guest entertainer, for $35 per person. Food events on this year’s schedule include Brunch at the Joust held daily at 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. and featuring a gourmet lunch and a front row seat to the jousting excitement for $25 per person, and Henry’s Happy Hour, a sampling of ales and appetizers held daily at 4:15 p.m. for $35 per person.
Tickets for this year’s festival are available at participating Circle K locations for $20.95 for ages 13 and older and $12.95 for ages 5-12. Tickets can be purchased online at the festival website as well as at the gate where tickets at the box office will be $23.95 (ages 13+), $15.95 (ages 5-12) and $19.95 (ages 65+). Kids 4 years old and younger are free.
DESTINATION TAMPA BAY is partnering with the 2023 Bay Area Renaissance Festival to give away tickets each weekend. Look for additional details here on DESTINATION TAMPA BAY and in our e-newsletter or Facebook for details on how to enter 4 adult tickets valued at over $100.00 each.
For more information about the 2023 Bay Area Renaissance Festival, visit its website by clicking here. Readers also can keep updated on the latest information including the live music lineup, special entertainment, and participating food and beverage vendors at the Festival’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.
Story written by Chris Kuhn exclusively for Destination Tampa Bay™. All photos and images courtesy of The Bay Area Renaissance Festival for editorial purposes only–al rights reserved.