DRESS TO IMPRESS: Dressing up for the renaissance faire adds an extra element of fun, but is definitely not compulsory.
DRESS TO IMPRESS: Dressing up for the renaissance faire adds an extra element of fun, but is definitely not compulsory.

Renaissance revival at Robina Parklands

VISITING the Gold Coast Renaissance Faire is like stepping into a 16th century Disneyland, according to its director David Russell.

The event has "vastly expanded" for its third year and its new Robina City Parklands home this October long weekend.

That has opened the way for the first time to equestrian events including jousting and archery on horseback, which are sure to thrill young and old.

These are no stunt performers. They are some of the most skilled horsemen and women in the world, using 1.2m lances, and dressed in real armour. The archers also include a two-time world champ and a gold medallist.

And, according to David this is the event's appeal. It is total emersion into a different world focussed on arts, theatre, dance and sports.

"From the moment you enter the faire, the sense of fantasy is never broken," David said.

"It celebrates one of the pivotal eras in history - the renaissance - which set the stage for the society we are living in today.

"And it's all brought down to a very intimate, human scale, so our staff, players and stall holders stay in character the entire time."

Renaissance faires have been operating in the United States since about 1963 and are a $100 million industry.

David, American himself, became involved in the faires through the sport of fencing back in his university days, and when he moved to Australia in 1996, the film concept and storyboard artist began dreaming of developing a faire on the Gold Coast.

This year's faire will involve over 50 costumed performers, three stages, Shakespearean performances, court music, dance, maypoles, games, children's entertainment, three royal processions a day, and more.

Artisan stalls display fine handicrafts of the period and food and drink are available.

"The faire is quite a unique multi-generational event, and really does offer something for everyone at every age," David said.

"But I think for the older demographic (like myself) given all the background noise in society today, it's nice to drop back several hundred years and experience the arts in a relaxed and intelligent manner and see music and theatre presented as they would have been."

If you really want to feel a part of the faire, David said about 20% of participants enjoyed dressing for the event and, while there's no pressure to do so, he said a lot of women in particular enjoyed the liberation of the old-fashioned and flattering costuming.

And let's face it, there's more than one fellow out there who wouldn't mind dressing as Captain Jack Sparrow or Jon Snow.

And of course the popularity of programs like Game of Thrones has only added to the fun and historic appeal of the event.

The faire runs on Sunday, October 2, and Monday, October 3, from 10am to 4.30pm.

Admission, which covers all events, is $12.95 for adults, $8.95 for children aged 10-14 years, and $10.95 for concession.

Family and two day passes are available, as well as online advance purchase discounts. For details, visit www.fairego.com.

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