Minnesotans can find their inner lord or lady — not to mention jousting, wooden weapons and unique food — at the Renaissance Festival. Nothing brings on the last weeks of summer like a day trip out to Shakopee to explore the historic and fantastic oddities of the Renaissance Festival.
For regulars who already have their tunics, gowns and crowns ready, this year’s festival will off plenty of new attractions. To celebrate William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, there will be a Shakespeare competition on the Pavilion stage, along with interactive performances, competitions and some of the Bard’s most iconic characters roaming the fair’s cobblestone roads. Among the festival’s unique food fare, new options include a BBQ Pulled Pork Cone and Artisan Ice Cream, on top of the traditional turkey leg.
Families can find a lot to do at the Renaissance Festival. Children can get creative at the Kid’s Craft Corner and get the royal treatment at the Fairytale Princess Party. Mom and Dad can also escape to the Royal Wine or Craft Beer Feature Feast to dine on six courses like kings and queens. For daring kids, there will be a Knights Challenge Obstacle Course and King Henry can bestow upon them the festival’s highest honor. For families on a budget there are also 50 free events each day.
For the full Renaissance Festival experience, it helps to do a little planning for all the different events. The Buccaneer Beer Fest on Aug. 23 and 24, a new themed weekend this year, includes free beer tastings and pirate-theme activities. The other new weekend, Passport to Adventure, will show some of the fair’s global influences in its International Bazaar and fantasy mask competition.
However, some of the fair’s best moments are in just walking through the grounds and taking it all in. Watch hundreds of unique characters dress up, enjoy all the eccentric vendors and throw yourself into a different time at the Renaissance Festival.
Where: 12364 Chestnut Blvd., Shakopee
When: Now through Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cost: $22.95 for adults, $13.95 for children (5 to 12)
Music at the Parklot
The Parklot, a first-of-its-kind pop-up park near downtown’s Orpheum Theatre, is hosting two series of live events tailored to the work schedule. The venue offers an alternative to the happy hour with after-work music on Tuesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. Throughout September, the rush-hour crowd can see musicians like Cate Jackson (Sept. 2 and 30), vocalist Emily Smythe (Sept. 9), Gold Standard Choir (Sept. 16) and accordionist Mark Stillman (Sept. 23). For a little lunchtime retreat, the Parklot also hosts food trucks and speakers on Fridays from noon to 1 p.m.
Where: The Parklot, between Ninth and 10th streets near Orpheum Theatre
When: Various dates
Jazz at the Jungle
After two sold-out shows earlier this summer, jazz singer Connie Evingson will once again pay homage to Ella Fitzgerald’s “Song Book” series at the Jungle Theater. Along with musicians Jon Weber, host of National Public Radio’s “Piano Jazz,” and bassist Gordon Johnson, Evingson will play tunes from the genre’s finest, including Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer.
Where: Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave S.
When: Sunday, Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Summer Beer Dabbler
The Beer Dabbler is bringing its summer event to the baseball field of Midway Stadium, along with food, fireworks and, of course, craft beer. There will be samples from more than 65 breweries on-hand, so everyone can find something they like. Sonny Knight and the Lakers, Hippo Campus and Crossing Guards will also provide live tunes and entertainment throughout the evening. For those not drinking and designated drivers, there is also a cheaper rate for tickets for this 21+ event.
Where: Midway Stadium, 1771 Energy Park Dr., St. Paul
When: Sept. 6 from 5 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $40 in advance, $50 at door, $10 for designated drivers
Kramarczuk’s Kielbasa Festival
Kramarczuk’s, Northeast Minneapolis’s landmark European sausage restaurant, is throwing its fifth annual Kielbasa Festival, hosting a range of authentic foods, craft beers and live entertainment. The two-day event will feature polka music, not to mention St. Paul folk rockers Bomba Da Luz, on Friday to go with the food and drink. On Saturday, there will also be a ton of live performances, including psychedelic pop group Carroll, and even a pyrohy—stuffed dumplings or pies—eating contest. Admission also comes with a commemorative beer stein and one beer.
Where: Kramarczuk’s, 215 E. Hennepin Ave.
When: Sept. 5 from 5 to 11 p.m., Sept. 6 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Cost: $15, $5 for those not drinking
Wedge’s 40th Anniversary Block Party
For four decades, the Wedge Community Co-op has connected Twin Cities residents with food, farmers, and vendors, but now, they’d also like to party with them. The co-op has a lot in-store for its 40th anniversary bash, including local vendors and food producers, beer from Indeed Brewery and on-site food trucks. There will also be music from Dosh, The Pines and the Current’s David Campbell, among others.
Where: Wedge Community Co-op, 2105 Lyndale Ave. S.
When: Sept. 7 from 12 to 6 p.m.
People for Parks 5K
If you need an excuse to enjoy the last bits of summer, then the People for Parks 5K may be your best bet. The family-friendly race returns yet again, this time benefiting Minnesota Parks and Recreation Board youth sports programs. Participants can check in near the Lake Harriet Bandshell beginning at 10:00 a.m. for the 11 a.m. race.
Where: Near Lake Harriet Bandshell, 4135 W. Lake Harriet Pkwy.
When: Sunday, Sept. 7 at 11 a.m.
Cost: $25, $15 for those under 18
MinnAnimate 3, an evening of over 30 animated films from across the state, will screen at St. Anthony Main Theatre, home to the Film Society of Minneapolis and St. Paul. This year’s animated shorts come from a wide variety of mediums and genres, from claymation to paper and comedies to dramas. The event, which is in its third year, will also feature a Q + A session with numerous filmmakers.
Where: St. Anthony Main Theatre, 115 Main St. SE.
When: Thursday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.
Cost: $10, $9 for students and seniors