Pirate ships, sword fights, and burly dads inhaling turkey legs. This is what makes renaissance faires truly great.
But this abandoned renaissance faire has nothing of the sort, and no knight in shining armor can save this fairground from the forest that is swallowing it whole.
Deep In the marshes of the Virginia wetlands is an abandoned renaissance faire that has been left to rot for over 20 years.
We set out to explore the abandoned fairground, but with armed hunters lurking on the property with us.. Things didn’t quite go to plan..
The Virginia Renaissance Faire was first built in 1996, and it was magnificent. Medieval European architecture dotted the parkland.
There were cottages, inns, and even circular guard towers watching over the guests.
The centerpiece of the park was a large replica sailing ship. On the ship performers entertained guests with music and magic.
In its prime, the park would attract hundreds of people from all over the country who wanted a genuine medieval experience. There was a jousting arena, mead hall, and dozens of other workshops and stores.
But shortly after the park was built it started to experience money problems. While the park itself was as amazing as it was immersive, there was one major problem. It’s location.
The dozens of buildings that make up the now abandoned renaissance faire sit on an isolated stretch of road with nothing else around.
This was an issue, especially for people who traveled from out of state to visit. With limited parking, and few hotels nearby guests and renactors couldn’t justify the trip.
On top of having almost no accommodations, the park itself could be brutal at times. The pond at the parks center was a magnet for mosquitoes, leaving guests itchy and aggravated.
Ticks ran rampant as well, with all the tall grass and vegetation around the fairgrounds. And to top it off, the wet forest created a thick muggy atmosphere in the summer, that proved to be unbearable for most park guests.
All of these factors combined led to the closure of the park in 1999. The owners had several properties that had priority over the renaissance faire, so it was left for nature to reclaim.
Some of the buildings had been relocated or sold to other renaissance faires, but there were still tons of buildings left behind.
The forest around the abandoned renaissance faire began to swallow buildings whole. Vines crawled up the parks towers and bramble made its way through open windows and doors.
The paths that guests would take quickly disappeared under untamed grass and weeds.
Over the years the land started to attract another type of guest. The wildlife. Wild turkeys and deer started to make the land their home.
Dilapidated buildings were perfect for nesting, or taking shelter from Virginia’s harsh winters. The property got the attention of a local hunting club, who purchased the land still uses it to hunt game to this day.
And it was that last critical detail that almost got us caught. See, we didn’t know it was a hunting ground at the time. And it was just our luck that there would be hunters out the day we were inside the park. And because I didn’t follow my own rules of exploration, I almost became the hunted.
As we explored the decaying structures that were left behind, gunshots rang out in the distance. This wasn’t unusual, we were in rural Virginia after all. However the situation took a more dire turn when those gunshots suddenly got significantly louder.
Pinned towards the back of the abandoned renaissance faire, we realized the danger we were in. Not only were we in the firing path of the hunters, but we were also parked up towards them.
We began to make our way towards where we parked, keeping the abandoned buildings between us and the where we heard the gunshots.
Trying to maneuver through the property without using the trail was tedious and at times painful. Thorn bushes cover much of the area, but we needed to keep out of their line of sight.
We suddenly hear voices, it’s the hunters. They’re walking along the path talking among themselves, I peer out from behind a corner to see them vigilantly scanning the treeline and buildings.
Were they looking for us, or just tracking an animal? Either way, I didn’t want to find out.
Their voices gradually pass us and we get back on the trail behind them. On our way back we found what they were shooting at. One of them had killed a wild turkey, blood and feathers still fresh on the trail.
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally made it to the car. Thankfully no one blocked us in, but more importantly no one was mistakenly shot.
Today the renaissance faire still sits abandoned, and the forest slowly reclaims the land around it.
This place is easily one of the most unique abandoned places I have been to. I would highly advise not visiting this site since it’s trespassing and you could mistakenly be shot.
Abandoned Renaissance Faire Location
The renaissance faire is on private property that is actively used by hunters. Get permission and explore at your own risk.