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Carol Timblin

Regardless of age, who among us does not enjoy wearing a costume and playing the role of a character we have read about or studied in history? Who doesn’t want to be a lord or lady for a day? Or cheer for our favorite knight during a jousting tournament? Or shop for treasures from the past at a medieval marketplace?

If you enjoy escaping from reality for a while, a Renaissance event might be the best way to celebrate autumn this year. Halloween also offers opportunities for escape. Here are some October events happening in the Mid-Atlantic, where you may step into another world.

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Carol Timblin

Renaissance Festivals

Two Renaissance events currently underway in the Mid-Atlantic, are the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville (near Annapolis), which runs weekends through Oct. 24, and the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, which continues weekends through the end of the month. (The Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival wrapped up in September, and the Virginia Renaissance Faire was canceled this year.)

*The Maryland Renaissance Festival, now in its 45th season, takes place on the 27-acre Revel Grove site. It features more than 200 performers on 10 different stages, a 3,000-seat jousting arena, over 140 craftsmen selling Renaissance memorabilia, five taverns that offer libations, and 42 food vendors (think turkey legs and steak on a stake). You’ll meet a host of characters and perhaps King Henry VIII himself, along with his Royal Court! Don’t miss Shakespeare’s Skum, where the Bard’s original plays come to life! Plus there are dozens of minstrels, magicians, musicians, jugglers, and more – not to mention beggars, hermits, wenches, pick-pockets, rakes, and rogues – who offer additional entertainment (MarylandRenaissanceFestival.com).

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Carol Timblin

* The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire is held on 27 acres of Hope Estate, which began in northern Lancaster County in 1779. Now in its 41st year, the Faire features bards, minstrels, mimes, knights, archers, lords and ladies, artisans, and different foods and beverages. There’s a special theme to celebrate each weekend, too. Oktoberfest, Oct. 2-3, offers beer from the Swashbuckler Brewing Company on site, along with German food and dancing, with a special focus on the Topfschlagen, Men in Lederhosen, Bar Olympics, and Manheim Beer Case. The spotlight shifts to the Celtic celebration Oct. 9-10, featuring pipers, Celtic wares, food, music, and dancing, plus Highland games, and kilt competitions. Next comes Halloween Days and Scary Nights the weekends of Oct. 23-24 and Oct. 30-31, including competitions for children and adults, treasure hunts, trick-or-treating, and discounted wine cases. Wine lovers might indulge in the wine tastings that are held daily at the Mount Hope Estate & Winery in Manheim (parenfaire.com).

Halloween Celebrations

A number of Halloween events, where you can get scared silly or just enjoy good fun, are taking place in the Mid-Atlantic this month. You may encounter as many as 400 monsters during Halloween Haunt, which continues weekend evenings through Oct. 31, at King’s Dominion in Doswell, Va. A character named Majesty summons the monsters during the opening ceremony. Then, visitors enjoy thrilling rides, haunted mazes, terrifying scare zones, and four new shows, guaranteed to be spooky and scary. The brand-new scare maze, “Grimm Woods,” provides the ideal setting for classic stories such as “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Hansel and Gretel” (kingsdominion.com).

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Carol Timblin

* Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., is staging Howl-O-Scream throughout the park, with five haunted houses, four terror-tories, four sinister shows, two party zones, and seven world-class coasters at night. Night events are not recommended for young children (buschgardens.com).

* Fright Fest at Six Flags America in Bowie, Md., features family-friendly shows and attractions during the day and thrilling rides and scary haunted houses at night. By the way, nocturnal events are not advised for small children. Be on the lookout for the Roaming Hack-Pack whose objective is to surprise and scare victims (sixflags.com).

* Hersheypark in the Dark in Hershey, Pa., has deemed Oct. 15-17, 22-24, and 29-31 as the “sweetest weekends,” with rides and coasters, trick-or-treat adventures, wild zoo visits, and encounters with Hershey characters. Rides on Candymonium, Comet, Laff Trakk, Lightning Racer, and View Rides take place in the dark. Visitors are encouraged to try pumpkin shakes, donuts, funnel cakes, and s’mores, as well as special Hops and Harvest menus (hersheypark.com).

* Phantom’s Revenge has returned to Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, Pa., for Fright Nights, acclaimed by USA Today and Amusement Today, while Happy Hauntings is geared to children ages 10 and under (kennywood.com).

Other Travel News

The Rocky Mountaineer, a Canadian-based luxury train, is now offering a two-day trip from Denver, Co., to Moab, Utah. (Passengers also have the option of beginning and ending their journey in Las Vegas or Salt Lake City.) Called “Rockies to the Red Rocks,” the train travels during the daytime, providing passengers a chance to see the spectacular scenery of the West through the glass-domed windows of the train or from an outdoor viewing platform. It also offers spacious, comfortable seating; breakfast and lunch onboard; coffee, tea, drinks, and snacks; an overnight stay in the resort town of Glenwood Springs; informative hosts who share stories and history along the route; and unlimited photo opportunities. The excursion, launched in August of this year, is available this month during weekends and next year, April through August. The cost is $1,250 per person (rockymountaineer.com).

Viking Expeditions, best known for cruising around the world, has expanded its market to include the Great Lakes in the United States and Canada. Beginning in May and ending in September of 2022, the company plans several eight-day cruises between Milwaukee and Thunder Bay and between Toronto and Milwaukee (starting at $6,495), plus a 13-day cruise between New York City and Toronto (starting at $8,995). In addition to seeing the Great Lakes, passengers are treated to wildlife watching, hiking through pristine forests, learning about Canada’s colonial history and the St. Lawrence River, kayaking in Georgian Bay (a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve), visiting the Milwaukee Art Museum, exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, and going through the Welland Canal and Soo Locks.

Next year the cruise line will offer five different cruises on the Mississippi River: New Orleans to New Orleans (8 days starting at $3,699 per person); New Orleans to Memphis (8 days, from $3,999); Memphis to New Orleans (8 days, from $3,999); St. Louis to St. Paul (8 days, from $4,399); St. Paul to New Orleans (15 days, from $10,993). Experiences vary with the destination, with passengers experiencing the French Quarter and Creole cuisine in New Orleans; Cajun heritage in Baton Rouge; Civil War history at Vicksburg National Military Park; Memphis barbecue, Delta Blues, and Graceland; Mark Twain's boyhood home; Gateway Arch in St. Louis; Norwegian culture at Vesterhelm; and locks and dams of the Upper Mississippi (vikingcruises.com).

Aitalia, which has served as Italy’s national carrier for 75 years, will cease operations on Oct. 15. Passengers holding reservations for travel after Oct. 15 may change to a comparable flight or request a full refund (800 223-5730).

Covid News

The Pfizer vaccine recently received full FDA approval, and other vaccines are likely to be approved in the near future. When planning or booking a trip, travelers should check state guidelines and vendors’ Covid policies.

Carol Timblin welcomes travel news at ctimblin@gmail.com.

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