Food, drink, artisan wares, and displays of bravery and beauty draw attendees to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival every year. An annual extravaganza featuring period finery, pageantry, tournaments of jousting, this celebration of times past even has a full-size replica of a castle from the twelfth century.
Buy a pass back into history and bring the family along for the ride. Maybe your child will want to take part in the knighting ceremony or show their stuff in the costume contest. The entire family will enjoy touring the marketplace, home to over 60 artisans. Buy a gemstone, take home some savory jam, and choose a piece of unique armor for next year’s costume.
Get lost in the twists and turns of the pirate’s maze and try your hand at archery. Pose for a quirky family caricature or photograph. Watch a session of intricate hand forging, and then set forth for a tour through historic Castle Gwynn. Build up your appetite as you make your way through the village of Covington Glen. Fancy a turkey leg or a fried pie? Try those and more, such as a bread bowl or piece of shepherd’s pie.
Take time to see Tennessee and plan stops at state parks like Henry Horton State Park, located in Chapel Hill, which is just a short drive from the festival.
Buy a season pass for around $100 if you want to spend every weekend in May exploring Covington Glen. Adult and children weekend tickets range from $10 to $30, and children under the age of five are usually free. A tour of the Castle Glynn and grounds is included in the price. Buy your passes online or at the gate. Cash only is the method of payment for purchases you make at the fest, such as food, rides, and souvenirs.
I-24, I-65, or the I-840 will direct you to New Castle Road, where the Ren Fest is held. Twenty-five miles south of Nashville, Arrington is considered Tennessee wine country, and this is evident by the rolling hills and vines present. Consult TN511 for up to date information on road and weather conditions as you travel. Upon approach to the festival, watch for parking attendants to direct you to the entrance.
Parking is free at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival. Attendants will be on hand to point you in the direction of the best place to park your motorhome. Ask for a pull-through spot and on gravel if possible, as opposed to grass that can get slick and soggy if rain makes an appearance. For accessible parking, have your placard in the window of your RV.
The rural town of Arrington does not have a public transit service. Being a small community, you will have to rely on your RV or tow vehicle for getting around. Nearby Franklin may offer taxi service that can assist you. Franklin is about 20 minutes away. Nashville is just over half an hour, so make sure you include the city in your tour of the area.
The Tennessee Renaissance Festival, held on the grounds of the privately-owned Castle of Gwynn, does not have onsite camping facilities. There are several options in the region, however. Choose a site under a canopy of thick trees for a secluded stay. Or, select a spot with a lakeside vista. Either way, you are close to Nashville and can make several day trips to see the sights.
Do you prefer a privately owned campground with Wifi, hookups, sewer, and a pool? Or do state parks suit your tastes? Tennessee has campsites of both types that will be accessible for a large RV. Fall Creek Falls State Park has not only spectacular scenery but also gorges and waterfalls to explore. It is one of Tennessee’s largest parks.
Montgomery Bell State Park has a restaurant on-site and can accommodate 60 ft. motorhomes. Cumberland Mountain State Park is an outstanding spot. You can choose from RV camping galore, or it has backcountry camping, which requires hiking into a camping spot.
Scooters, skateboards, bicycles, and hoverboards cannot be used in the realm. Wheelchairs, strollers, and wagons are navigable in the Village of Covington Glen. Passageways are roped off in grassy areas, so you may need to have help in the event of inclement weather. Attendees are bussed to the Castle Wynn. There is a storage area for strollers as they cannot be brought on the bus. Assistance is available for boarding the bus if required, but please make your needs known before lining up.
Dress in your favorite Renaissance wear to fit in with peasants and nobility alike, whatever takes your fancy. Full face masks are not allowed, however, and weapons that are part of your outfit must be peace-tied or left at home.
It’s a family-friendly festival, so wear attire that reflects that. Bring along a change of clothes in case you want a change from medieval apparel. No matter the era of your outfit, a hat that shades the face, neck, and ears is essential as protection from the sun.
Coolers, chairs, and tents are not allowed in either the parking area or the festival’s Village of Covington Glen. Plan on buying your food and drink inside the festival gates. Expect any bag that you bring in to be inspected, and your camera may be looked at as well. Video cameras have to stay back at camp.
Sunscreen and bug spray are two essentials for camping in Tennessee and should be toted along to any event that takes place as you travel. Forested areas are favorite hangouts for bugs and mosquitoes, so be prepared. Service animals are welcomed at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival as long as they are up to date on vaccinations. Bring plenty of water for them to drink.
Follow fire safety rules for your chosen campground. Many regions have no-fire regulations in force when there are drought conditions. Do not transport wood from one campground to another in case of diseased or bug-ridden wood. Campfires are ideal for a meal such as chili prepared in a cast-iron pot. If restrictions are in place, though, make your meal in the RV kitchen or on a camp stove at the picnic table.
Head to nearby Franklin for an oyster feast or a serving of locally sourced beef. Delicious ribs are another in-town specialty. If you are on a day trip to Nashville, consider eating there and sampling fried chicken, kabobs and gyros, or a Southern vegetable plate. All tastes and appetites will be served in Nashville.
Have cash on hand for games, food, and drink purchases at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival. Some of the vendors may accept credit cards, but not all will. There are no ATMs on the property, but there is a “cash-back” option at the front gate when you buy your entrance ticket at the gate. There is a processing fee.
Once you are ready to shop, don’t miss the artisan market. The variation of unique wares is second to none. Covington Glen is the ideal place to select costumes for next year, wire-crafted jewelry, Celtic tapestries, wood art, and much more.
Check the list of prohibited items before entering the grounds to be on the safe side. Alcohol cannot be brought in, nor can banners or flags. Security officers are busy in all areas of Covington Glen and can assist with peace-tying a weapon if need be. Photo ID may be verified when consuming alcohol on the premises. Your personal bags are subject to inspection if deemed necessary.
Although the festival goes on rain or shine if conditions become hazardous, some of the Glen may close early or open later than planned. Extreme weather conditions may force the festival to stay closed for the day. Security staff will make the decision if need be.
At camp, have rain gear in the campervan and keep the awning open over the picnic table so the kids can still play outside if they like. Once the rain stops, enjoy searching for frogs and snails, but look only. Teach the kids to leave nature in their habitat as intended.
First Aid is located near the entrance bridge to Covington Glen. There is a station at the Castle Glynn, too, and security staff members are ready to assist at any time. To keep the family healthy and happy while on the trip, include band-aids, antibiotic cream, after-sun lotion, and NSAIDs in your motorhome first aid kit.