Most of the renaissance festivals try to imitate the life in England during the reign of Elizabeth I of England as it is believed that the English renaissance flourished during her period. However, sometimes these festivals portray broader definitions of renaissance by including earlier periods such as the period of Vikings, barbarians, wizards and fairies or by including later periods such as the period of 18th century pirates. 

These festivals attract thousands of visitors, vendors, and staff members, who wear medieval style costumes as well as those of other time periods and fantasy characters, such as the Vikings, pirates and elfs. There is an abundance of medieval oriented shows, games, rides, arts and crafts, along with festival foods and drinks. Renaissance-themed art & handicrafts are also put for sale, and stages are set up for scheduled shows or performances such as plays in Shakespearean tradition.  Jugglers, dancers, musicians, comedians and the like perform at the renaissance festivals to entertain the huge swarms of guests. Actors mimic historical figures and roam among the visitors interacting with them.

A Renaissance festival also features adventurous plays such as archery, axe-throwing, swordplay and jousting, which were very popular during medieval and renaissance period. But, performances like swordplay and jousting in renaissance festivals are just illusive combats. Participants are not real fighters; however weapons used in such plays are real. Human-powered swings, animal rides and live animal displays are also among the main attractions at these festivals.

These festivals are very popular in the United States, and are organized at different parts of the country at different times of the year. Vendors and participants often keep on moving from one event to other. Texas Renaissance Festival is held at Plantersville in Texas. It is the most acclaimed Renaissance or medieval theme park in the United States. It takes place from early October to late November, which ensures cool and pleasant weather for visitors. It emulates 16th century British village, covers a different theme every weekend. It is open to the members of public on Saturdays, Sundays and Thanksgiving Friday.

Apart from The Texas Renaissance Festival, other striking renaissance festivals in the United States include The Louisiana Renaissance Festival, Ye Merrie Greenwood Faire in Washington, The Arizona Renaissance Festival, The Bay Area Renaissance Festival and King Richard's Faire in Carver, Massachusetts. But, that doesn’t mean that renaissance festivals are exclusive to the United States. These festivals are also organized in several other countries such as Canada in North America and Germany in Europe.

Most of the Renaissance festivals finish the hectic day with an end-of-the-day ritual, which is kind of parade where all employees assemble to bid goodbye to their patrons.