Grab your fancy overcoats and beer steins; it's time to time-travel.

The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire returns this weekend, bringing with it 11 weekends of fun themes, talented craftspeople and fun entertainment for kids and adults alike.

This year, the faire will bring back many loved favorites, such as jousting competitions, renditions of Shakespeare from the mud pits and, of course, turkey legs larger than your head.

But the faire also will feature some new events, too, keeping things interesting for first-timers and regulars alike. (Are you a first-timer? Read this primer before you go.)

"There's just some stuff you can't do without. We surround them with the love of the new (events)," says Candace Smith, director of sales and communications at the Mount Hope Estate.

Here's everything you need to know before you go to this year's Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.

The basics

The Renaissance Faire kicks off on Aug. 20 with its Fairies & Fantasy themed weekend. It continues every weekend through October, ending on Oct. 30 with the "Halloween Days & Spooky Knights III: Bride of Scratchy" themed weekend.

The overall theme of this year's Renaissance Faire is a preparation for a wedding between the Daughter of Lady Mayor Delores Ann Penburthy to the Son of Abraham and Eva Froman, the Sausage King and Queen of the Shire.

Jules Schrader, who portrayed Queen Elizabeth last year, returns this year as the queen once more. (LNP reporter Kevin Stairiker shadowed her last year; read about his experience here.)

"This will be the perfect wedding! What could go wrong?" Quips the Renaissance Faire's website. 

The faire will be held at the Mount Hope Estate & Winery, at 2775 Lebanon Road in Manheim. Gates open each day at 11 a.m., and the event continues through 8 p.m. The faire is dog-friendly, so feel free to dress up your favorite four-legged friend and have them accompany you.

There are three tiers of tickets for Faire goers. The intent was to give a discount to people who went earlier than October, Smith says. October is the faire's busiest month.

- Aug. 20 to Sept. 25: $31.95 for general admission, $16.95 for children ages 5-11, free for children 4 years old and younger. Sunset tickets (admission past 4 p.m.) are $22.95 for general admission and $7.95 for children ages 5-11.

- Oct. 1-30: $35.95 for general admission, $18.95 for children ages 5-11, free for children 4 years old and younger. Sunset tickets (admission past 4 p.m.) are $22.95 for general admission and $9.95 for children ages 5-11. 

Faire subscriptions, which allow visitors to attend the Renaissance Faire each day it's open, are $125 or general admission and $45 for children ages 5-11. 

New entertainment

There are several new things coming to this year's Renaissance Faire, including new performers, food, restaurants and drink options, among others.

"We always try to do something new," Smith says.

Burbage & the Bard will make its faire debut, a parodical homage to Shakespeare that answers peoples' burning questions, like, "Why does everyone say 'doth'?" and "How did Friar Lawrence always 'know a guy'?"

Other new performers include comedic musical group Celtic Legacy, a new group operating the mud pit and a living statue named Statue Commedius de Marbelous.

"It's one of those (living statues) that comes in the full makeup and everything that's one tone, so they look like a true statue," Smith says.

New food and drinks

The Renaissance Faire will sell absinthe, an alcohol made from wormwood, anise, fennel and other herbs, for the first time. 

"It's been a long process getting government approvals on it," Smith says. Absinthe was banned in the United States from 1912 to 2007, as it was previously believed to have psychedelic properties.

The Renaissance Faire hopes to open a garden-themed absinthe bar (a nod to the drink's nickname of "the green fairy") in September, Smith says.

In other booze news, the faire will launch four canned cocktails, served alongside a glass with ice in it. Canned cocktail flavors include a bourbon smash, a peach tea whiskey, a bee's knees (gin, lemon and honey) and a cranberry rum cocktail.

The rollout of canned cocktails is to keep lines moving while making sure the drinks are made with consistent quality, Smith says. Cocktails will be available at several of the faire's vendors, including Cockney's Wine & Cocktail Oasis and the new El Bravucon Cantina, among others.

"We tweak as we go. A lot of what we do is improvisational during the fair, so if we find thing need adjusting as we go — that goes for food, bars, entertainment, all of it," Smith says.

Perhaps the most odd addition heading to the Ren Faire this year is a Scotch egg maker. On average, the faire sells more than 50,000 eggs in a given season. (Scotch eggs are softboiled eggs surrounded by sausage, then breaded and baked or fried).

In previous years, food workers hand-rolled each Scotch egg. The new machine can make 30 Scotch eggs a minute. They'll also use that machine to make authentic German meat pies, as well as other types of pies and stuffed baked goods, Smith says.

For more information about the Renaissance Faire, visit

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