The Bay Area Renaissance Festival
is back, along with its usual dose of controversy.
Celebrating its 44th anniversary, the Renaissance Festival kicks off on Saturday, Feb. 19 and will run seven weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) through April 3.
The event will transport festival-goers from Withlacoochee River Park to a magical 16th century European village.
Brought to the community by a partnership with Pasco County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, the festival will house over 100 artisans displaying and selling goods, characters dressed in medieval costumes interacting with guests around the fair and 15 stages of entertainment including musicians, magicians, jugglers and more.
Each of the seven weekends features a different theme with specialized entertainers, vendors and artisans. This year’s themes are Wine, Romance & Song, Highland Fling, Pirates & Pups, Barbarian Brew Fest, Shamrocks & Shenanigans, High Seas Adventure and Wonders of the World.
Following its 2020 controversy
during the Men in Kilts Competition when a performer bent over and shook his exposed butt cheeks, and more, this year’s festival will bring some opposition from the community.
Members of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA
) and Animals Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF
) will gather at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday at 12838 Auton Rd., Dade City to protest against the use of bullhooks—weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp iron hook on one end— on elephants at the festival. Additionally, protesters want to alert guests that interactions with elephants carry the risk of injury and disease transmission.
“Elephants are intelligent and sensitive individuals who are separated from their families just for the fleeting entertainment of fairgoers,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on the lords, ladies, and gentlepeople of the Bay Area Renaissance Festival to stop the medievil spectacle of elephant rides.”
The Bay Area Renaissance Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 2449 Withlacoochee Blvd, Dade City.
Tickets are $22.95 for adults, $18.95 for seniors, $14.95 for children between 5 and 12 and free for children four and under. Parking is also free.