A Renaissance fair or Medieval Renaissance Fair is a gathering meant to imitate the Renaissance movement and time period. People dress up, offer goods, even play music that we assume to fit into the Renaissance period. It is usually held in the United States, not in Europe. And they are held in many different states, mostly during the summer. They tend to be short term events seen in large public or private spaces.
They usually have many costumed entertainers, musical and theatrical acts, art and handicrafts, and festival food. Some even offer camping options to make many things far easier. They are mostly set during the time of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Some have also come to include the times of the Vikings. And some even allow you to dress up in clothes ranging through several different time periods. Many also tolerance, accept, or even encourage wizards and elves.
There are some who challenge the authenticity of these fairs, though most protestors are in Europe. Depending on the era portrayed of course, some are pickier than others. And obviously, with things like wizards, they are more likely to challenge the authenticity. But many believe entertainment to be the primary goal of things like this. Most of the protestors have been connected to museums and other educational organizations and institutions.
Regardless of what you think it is for, Renaissance fairs continue, and they often touch on the Medieval era. They have become more popular in recent years in countries such as England, Ireland, and Germany. But they are still developing in those countries. They are more common in Christmas fairs in London.
Renaissance fairs continue throughout the ages. And they continue to evolve and change. Costumes can be extremely expensive. And of course, some have chosen to simply to make their own. When it comes to Medieval Renaissance fairs, they started out small. But they have only become recently as popular as they currently happen to be.