The time has come for noblemen and jesters to gather for weekends of fun and festivities fit for a queen.
The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire has returned to Lancaster County for its 32nd year. A 16th-century village awaits visitors at the Mount Hope Estate & Winery off Route 72, where in this year's theme, the war of the playwrights, William Shakespeare squares off against rival Christopher Marlowe to be the only acting company in Queen Elizabeth's domain.
The fair runs every Saturday and Sunday until the end of October, plus Labor Day Monday, and each weekend features a different theme -- including time travel and "Star Trek" this year, said public relations manager Kyle McConnell.
The fair features a number of activities and shows daily, including an ultimate joust on the East Coast's largest joust field. The arena seats 8,000 people, and the event includes some not-to-be-missed special effects.
"There are a lot of very Hollywood-esque pyrotechnics," McConnell said.
There is also a human chess match performed in front of the queen and her visitors on a 40-foot-by-40-foot board. The match features not only rooks and pawns but also ball-and-chains and sword duels, McConnell said.
"It's really action-packed, and a lot of excitement goes into it."
Independent acts can be found throughout the fair, including magicians, fire swallowers and plate spinners.
Parents should take note that some shows feature elements unsuitable for younger kids.
"Some of the shows are definitely for adults and older children," McConnell said.
For the kids: The Children's Discovery Garden gives the younger set a place to play games such as chess or checkers, make crafts, go on a treasure hunt or interact with actors who are there solely for their entertainment.
"I suggest that families don't hesitate to bring young kids," McConnell said. "If they can't find a show, at the very least they'll have interactions from the actors, so that'll make their day complete."
On Labor Day weekend, the fair caters to the younger crowd with shows and other events geared toward children, including a chance to have cake with the queen.
"It's definitely a place for all ages," McConnell said. "There will be things for very young children and definitely things for kids as they get older."
Food: What fair would be complete without a sampling of Renaissance-inspired food? The fair is home to 24 kitchens of various cuisine, with everything from Irish to Italian. But the most popular by far, said McConnell, is the giant smoked turkey leg.
"It really goes along with the Renaissance theme," he said. "People walk around with a giant turkey leg in their hand."
But, if you're in the mood for something a little sweeter, or a little deep-fried, then head to Saint Krispin's Sweets for any deep-fried dessert, from Oreos to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Admission: Tickets are available at www.parenfaire.com as well as at the gate. Adult tickets are $29.95 at the gate, but purchasing in advance online can save $4. Admission for children up to 11 years old is $10.95. Coupons are available at select locations including Turkey Hill and Hess.
The fair is handicap-accessible. Although there are some hills and stone paths, it's fairly easily to get around with a wheelchair or scooter, McConnell said.
Visit the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire album in the York Dispatch photo/media gallery to see more photos from the fair.