Ren Faire PH Event Report: One for the History Books

The country's first proper Renaissance Faire is an experience that we'd love to revisit!

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What began as a simple social media post that went viral back in 2023, Ren Faire PH, the first renaissance/medieval festival in the country, officially kicked off on March 22-24, 2024. This three-day event featured a myriad of medieval-themed activities, artist and merchant booths, performances, educational workshops, contests, and many more.

Renaissance or medieval fairs are commonly held to recreate and relive ancient historical settings—mostly of Western culture. These fairs are held outdoors like bazaars and traveling markets where attendees dress up in their chosen period costumes and dresses and participate in various immersive activities in said time period. While Ren Faire PH was by definition a renaissance festival, the event included local and indigenous activities and performers which marked the pride of our very own rich history.

Settling into the Faire

Ren Faire PH was held in a sloping pine forest, where the mostly uneven ground was scattered with pine needles, shrubbery, and twigs. One would think that the provided map gave the place the illusion of being a normal festival area, but the venue was more massive than it looked. Ren Faire PH was expansive and wide! And quite fitting for the whole experience, I’d say. It was a couple of minutes walk incline to get to the main activity stages and shops—which was challenging on a pair of heeled boots (and weak lungs!).

From left: A traditional tattoo artist or mambabatok at work, a leather goods and trinkets shop, a fantasy-themed drinks stall

Tents for various booths were set up in different parts of the forest to give ample space for faire-goers to check at their own pace and leisure. There were tents dedicated to tabletop board games, artist and merchandise booths, food stalls, a mini-menagerie of birds and reptiles, tarot fortune telling, traditional tattoo artists/practitioners (Mangwhawhato or mambabatok), and a limited opportunity to be able to take a photo using a Camera Obscura, an antique box camera.

There were also places dedicated to various educational workshops, LARPing (live-action roleplaying), horseback riding, and two archery areas. One was field archery and the other was a simpler, “Choke the Dragon”, target practice. And yes, there was an actual pillory and quest boards as well.

For the first Renaissance festival in the country, this was an impressive lineup of booths and activities. Topped off with attendees dressed to the nines in their chosen medieval or fantasy outfits while exchanging pleasantries and handmade trinkets, Ren Faire PH looked to be a most promising event to immerse the self in.

Filled to the Brim

There was a lot going on during Ren Faire. All three days were filled with activities and performances. Faire-goers may opt to meet and greet their favorite content creators (like Knitemaya, Drefan, Kitz Cua, or Solibeau), buy merch, indulge in food and drink, or get settled on blankets and mats in front of either of the two stages (the Queen Stage and Jester Stage) during programs which were always lively with activity from talented emcees.

From left: Yaelokre, The Backstreet Bards, Adamanta

Local bands like Adamanta, a symphonic folk power metal band from Cebu, Ikigai Band, Adobo Nihon, and independent artists like Yaelokre, Sinag, and many others shared their musical prowess and talents. The Queen and Jester stages featured these performances, as well as contests like Battle of the Bards, eating challenges, and workshop demonstrations (bladeworks, fencing, sewing, crafting, weaving, belly dancing, etc.). The two stages were situated on opposite ends of the wide venue for attendees to be able to partake in the various programs regardless of where they were.

And everyone was everywhere! It could be quite overwhelming to check out everything in one go. It definitely felt like you would be missing a lot of things if you stayed too long in one booth, but it’s perfectly okay! There was a thrill to discover new and fun things as you explore Ren Faire. Like, maybe encountering a villager with a sidequest or getting caught between a whole skirmish by passionate LARPers.

Some of the contenders for the Battle of the Bards contest

Ren Faire PH took immersion quite seriously and made sure that faire-goers maximized their medieval and historical experience–either by day or by night. Whether you came in the late afternoon to avoid the heat of the sun, or preferred the cold of the night to partake in some liquor, the event got you covered.

Ren Faire PH had daytime and nighttime affairs–the latter of which was only available for adults due to the nature of the performances and activities: burlesque, drinking challenges, fire dancing, wench lip-synch battles (similar to drag queen acts), and a campfire. At 5 PM, the faire was cleared out to prepare for the transition of the nighttime festivities–making certain that all night faire-goers were cleared and of age. Despite the lack of lighting in the forest, save for the stage and campfire area, the Ren Faire nighttime festivities delivered well into its theme.

An Experience to Revisit 

Ren Faire PH capped off with fireworks on the third day—which was fitting for how fiery, colorful, and joyous of an experience it was. While the decorative look and ambiance of the event at first glance may be unassuming and simple, the avid and wholesome community spirit was enough for me to fully enjoy the faire. The people themselves made the first Ren Faire PH experience truly fantastic and immersive.

And speaking of immersion, phone signals were spotty in the venue and there weren’t many public transportation options as dusk fell (unless you have your own vehicle). Thus taking in the present sights with little technology accessibility in hand and traversing the uneven ground for ages before getting home felt like a bonus to the renaissance festival experience. Oh, there were also portalets instead of actual toilets in the venue. Truly living the olden times, so to speak.

Featuring Ren Faire PH international guests Knitemaya (left photo) and Drefan (right photo)

I enjoyed the program and activities and interacted with friends so much that I barely took enough pictures. It hit differently when one of the biggest things you brought home was the heartwarming memories and all you could think of afterward was going back there again and reliving it.

Ren Faire PH was an amazing, heartwarming, and intimate event to experience with friends and family. We hope that there will be more to come. It is truly awe-inspiring to be part of history in the making.