Each weekend during the merry month of May, the Tennessee Renaissance Festival takes place near a castle located along State Route 840 (between I-24 and I-65) just south of Nashville in Arrington, TN. It is the only Renaissance festival held on the grounds of a real castle residence in North America. A few families from our CC Community enjoyed wrapping up our year with this final field trip!
The castle, called Castell Gwynn (or Castle Gwynn), is a photographer’s real-life home, a replica of a 12th-century Welsh border castle. Mike Freeman opens up parts of his home to Tennessee Renaissance Festival goers for tours (included in the festival admission price), and the castle is available for photography shoots with Freeman Renaissance Portraits. For a fascinating look at the history of Freeman’s “dream home,” read the Story of Castle Gwynn. You can also view photos of the progress of Castle Gwynn over the years at Gwynn in Tennessee on Squidoo. Started in 1970, this castle is still a work in progress!
In addition to the Castle Gwynn Tour (where we beheld the RoseDan-Freeman Collection of Weaponry and the Needlework and Tapestry Collection of Imogene Stone), our children enjoyed such things as…
a camel ride. This camel even poses for photos! David bounced away from this experience saying, “I felt like one of the three wisemen!”
Located close by was one of three man-powered rides at the festival, the Dragon Joust. (They also enjoyed the Da Vinci Hurlinator and the Flying Carousel, though they were spinning too quickly for us to get a good snapshot!)
We closed our day with a visit to The Gutenberg Press educational exhibit, hosted by Don and Mandi Green of Alabama. Mr. Green made this entire exhibit by hand from his many hours of research into the life of Gutenberg and what Gutenberg’s Printing Press may have looked like. To hear him explain the life and times of Gutenberg, to discover how Mr. Green researched and built all of the materials, and to hear about the primary and secondary resources he used in doing so, was an incredible, unexpected treat for us! What’s more… he volunteers to do this!
Though it is still many years in the making, he is currently working on a similar Da Vinci exhibit for the Alabama Renaissance Faire that takes place in Florence, Alabama every year in October.
Dozens of skilled artisans from around the country display their wares amongst an assortment of specialty foods and Games of Skill. (For more information visit Artisans, Craft Merchants, Games of Skill, and Rides.)
Some things you might need to know before going:
Our family enjoyed the festival on the “Renaissance Day Out” school day, which takes place annually on the very first day that the festival is open (the Friday before the first weekend of May). If you have children, the school day is the best option, as it is a much more family-friendly environment than on normal Renaissance Faire weekends. However, if you have children under the age of 5, you will have to find a babysitter on this day because…
“For safety and security reasons, our Renaissance School Day is for students, teachers, school-approved chaperones, and their bus drivers, only. We are unable to accommodate babies and children not yet in Elementary School on our School Day. Babies and children not yet in Elementary School are welcome to attend the festival during a regular festival day, but not on our designated School Day.”
Other handy information:
No sandals or flip-flops allowed.
You cannot bring food or drink onto the festival grounds, nor can you picnic on the grounds anywhere, but can go back to your car to enjoy lunch. (While we purchased some good kettle corn on site, we were not quite impressed with the lunch we chose and ended up throwing most of it away.)
We really enjoyed our trip through Covington Glen and the beautiful Castle Gwynn! If you have any questions, let us know!
Our family aims to visit all 50 states together before our boys graduate from high school. To take a look at some of the places we’ve been, visit our 50-States-Before-They-Graduate posts. If you’d like to offer suggestions for places to visit in the 50 states, we would love your input! Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions for your favorite state(s), or virtually visit the other states we’ve visited to offer your recommendations on those pages!
We’d love to read about your own family’s adventures… or to simply know about destinations you’ve enjoyed!