Your Castle of Muskogee Renaissance Festival Bucket List 2022
One of our family’s favorite things to do is to visit the Castle in Muskogee twice a year: once for the Halloween Festival and again for the Annual Oklahoma Renaissance Festival. And over the past few years, what used to be a fun little regional ren faire has truly stepped up its game, transforming the Castle into a full-blown adventure with so many surprises to uncover it’s impossible to catch them all in one visit. But should you give it a try anyway? Absolutely! We did!
The festival is a great place for kids and teens because it exposes them to all kinds of creativity and culture and even gives them a chance to check out artisans and artists at work, giving them an appreciation for craftsmanship that is sorely lacking in the world today. To help you make the most of your trip to the Castle this year, we’re sharing everything wonderful, amazing, and magical we got to check out this year at the Renaissance Festival as well as a few things we have to put on our ren faire bucket list for next year. The festival runs for the next few weekends, running from April 30th through June 5th. Be sure to check it out!
Did you know that every weekend, the Castle features a different theme? We went during Fantasy weekend when the party gets crashed by King Oberon and his wacky crew from the “magical wreathed land of Avalon.” The entire place was brimming with whimsical faeries, magical satyrs, and all sorts of various whimsical creatures. There’s also a costume contest every day of the faire in case you’re planning to participate in the festivities. And if you’re something of a shutterbug, you can submit your snaps to the photo contest online!
Here’s a complete list of every future theme at the festival and the special visitors you can expect to run into:
- Romance Weekend May 7 & 8: King Henri from France is visiting to romance Queen Elizabeth.
- Pirate Weekend May 14 & 15: King Philip II is visiting to try his luck with the Virgin Queen.
- Celtic Weekend May 21 & 22: Mary Stuart is popping over from Scotland.
- Memorial Day Weekend May 28-30: Archduke Charles Ferdinand is visiting from Austria.
- Spice Road Weekend June 4 & 5: Castleton’s special guest will be Emperor Omari from the Solomon Empire.
2. Get a front row seat for the Wheel of Death.
We first saw a “wheel of death”-style act this past year at Cirque Italia, and we were pretty blown away. That’s why we couldn’t believe our eyes when we realized we were in for a front row seat to a Cirque-level performance right in the middle of the Renaissance festival – and it was pretty darned fantastic. Hailing from Gainesville, Ichabod Wainwright is a one-man show who rides his Wheel of Death – a handmade wooden acrobat wheel the man made himself over 650 grueling hours – at faires and festivals all over the country. He performs three mindblowing shows a day, and he’s hilarious to boot. If you plan for nothing else at the festival, check out his show times and plan to get a good seat. You’ll also want to bring a few bucks to toss in his hat at the end of his set because it’s the best show at the faire, hands-down. Check it out and be sure to follow him on Instagram.
Show is just outside the castle, and showtimes are at 12:15 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.
3. Get your joust on with the Heroic Knights of Old joust tournament.
This is another event you’ll want to plan ahead for and make sure you have plenty of time to check out. You’ll get the best view if you sit in the bleachers, but there really are no bad seats. Two knights from opposing sides fight à la guerre in a jousting tournament. When things get hairy, they take up arms and cross swords in a well-choreographed knight-v.-knight battle. Catch this show at 1 p.m. and again at 4:15.
4. Learn about falconry with the Knightwings Birds of Prey Show.
Falconry was huge during the medieval and Renaissance periods in Europe, so naturally it’s a big deal in Castleton’s Renaissance festival! Knightwings Birds of Prey is an educational program dedicated to raising awareness about birds of prey and conservation. This is a rare opportunity to get a glimpse at these incredible birds and learn something at the same time. Check out the show right before the joust tournament at 11 a.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
5. Catch up with Ez ‘n Dil.
We missed their show, but we had the incredibly good fortune of running into this pair of roving musicians on the street and got an impromptu serenade. It was one of the highlights of the festival for us to hang out with this fantastic musical duo. You can catch them on the Hidden Grove stage at 11 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
6. Get down with the Craic.
The Craic Show is like no other Renaissance faire music you’ve heard before. Think party bagpipes, strong percussion, and rocker pirates. It’s world music you can bang your head to, and you definitely shouldn’t miss it. Check out their music here first and then be sure to work their show into your to-do list. They’re at the cave at 12:15 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 4:45 p.m.
7. Watch the Topsy Turvy Circus Variety Show.
You can’t get through the Renaissance festival without checking out a few of the fantastic shows like the Jester Rejects, Tribal Circus, Sir Mark the Escapologist, and Bob the Juggler. We didn’t have time to watch all of these fantastic artists, but we did get to stop by the Topsy Turvy Circus Variety Show, and we think you should, too.
8. Watch the blacksmiths work.
If you and your brood have never had the chance to watch real blacksmiths at work, you’ll love this chance to get up close and personal with a forge. Stop by Watch Tower Works Blacksmith & Jewelry, where the blacksmiths are at work all day long and are more than happy to answer any questions you may have and talk about the finer points of their craft. While you’re there, you can pick up some lovely fire-forged jewelry, weapons, and other metal goods.
There are so many wonderful things to spend money on at the Renaissance Festival that the hard part is deciding what you have room to carry home. The beauty is that many of the best items are the ones you can wear around the festival from leather goods to witchy hats to handcrafted plague rats, which my kids went absolutely bananas over (they named theirs Soup and Snail).
These are just a few of our favorite vendors from the faire:
Unbelievably adorable fantasy shoulder puppet dragons in a practically limitless array of colors and designs. My kids were dying over these, but I would totally love to own one and wear it around a festival (or my house) as an adult.
Now that you’ve scored a shoulder dragon, your arm needs one, too. These beautifully crafted dragon pets can be twisted around your arm, your hat, or your handbag, and they come in many designs (including two-headed dragons!) and colors (including glow-in-the-dark).
Sculpture by Gary
Gary is a stone-carving wizard, and you can watch him work while you shop. From beautiful stone markers for your house to brilliant wood carvings, Gary is a true artisan.
Roark Acres Honey House
A Jenks-based family-owned honey farm, these folks have all kinds of delicious local honey, and they want you to try it. They also sell some handmade soaps that smell so good my fella was excited about them, and he’s not typically one to get jazzed over fragrances. And if you’re looking for a cheap crowd-pleaser for a brood of kids who want one of everything they see, they have a collection of flavored caramel treats that are three for a buck. You’re welcome.
Stop by, taste some honey, pick up a handful of caramels, and see what all the buzz is about.
The Highland Rat
The Highland Rat makes beautiful soft-sculpture plague rats, and my children lost their ever-loving minds over them. Located just inside the Castle to your right, these folks have some of the best pricing you’ll find at the festival and offer wearable plague rats you can pin right on your clothing or hat. And you can even watch them work on a new rat while you’re there!
Cottagecore witch hats, curly-tipped felt witch hats, and steampunk top hats are just a few of the offerings at this haberdashery located in the Castle Keepe.
10. Go on a tasting adventure.
If you love to eat, you’ll love the festival. You just might have a hard time narrowing down what you want to try (we love the spiral potatoes). My friend swears the bottled homemade root beer at the festival is the best you’ll ever try. And you’ll definitely need to grab a bag of the kettle corn before you head out.
11. Visit the mermaids.
When you first enter the festival, be sure to pull up and bookmark this map on your phone. And then immediately navigate your way to the mermaid grotto, because your kids will love it and so will you. I’m pretty sure my favorite thing at the festival this year was seeing my 11-year-old suddenly turn into an anime-eyed dreamer over the mermaids.
12. Mix and mingle with Renaissance characters around Castleton.
As you walk around the Castle grounds, you’ll get the chance to bump into all kinds of wonderful characters from Captain Jack Sparrow to religious clerics (the cardinal wouldn’t grant me absolution, sadly) to fantastic faeries. They’re all super friendly, and if you ask them nicely, they will usually be more than happy to pose for a snap.
13. Say hello to the peafowl.
Did you know there are resident peafowl at the Castle? You can find them hanging out in a couple of peafowl enclosures while you’re on the grounds. Stopping by to enjoy their brilliance is always one of our favorite activities.
14. Get some henna art.
Just after you enter the Castle grounds, if you head left, you’ll bump into a pretty little tent out of my happiest glamping dreams where you can get a lovely little henna body art design from A New World Henna Association. With a pretty mandala or dragon design, you can enjoy the Ren faire afterglow for a week or longer after you go home.
There is so much to do at the Renaissance festival that it seems unfair I don’t have the space to include every incredible artist and actor you’ll meet at this event, but you can check out the festival program online and plan ahead. If you have time, it’s more than worth it to pick up a weekend pass. Don’t forget to plan ahead to tip all of your favorite musicians and artists, and be sure to let us know what your favorite things to do at the Renaissance festival this year! As always, have a magical week in your little nebula.