The 41st Bay Area Renaissance Festival begins on Saturday, February 15 and runs on weekends through Sunday, March 29 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

As the new year begins, so does an old Tampa tradition. The 41st Bay Area Renaissance Festival will begin on Saturday, February 15 and run through Sunday, March 29. The festival began in 1979 in Largo and has since moved to its location in Tampa on the grounds of the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). It is open for seven weekends during February and March and sees more than 80,000 visitors each season.

“The Bay Area Renaissance Festival is a 16th century village that features 12 stages of live entertainment, more than 80 various artisans, live armored jousting and food fit for a king,” said the festival’s marketing manager, Kim Heidger.

This year, the festival will bring an all-new experience called the Hawk Walk.

“During the Hawk Walk, patrons will get to experience the Birds of Prey show in an intimate setting to learn and interact with the birds,” Heidger said. “The festival will also feature a new escape room, Rainbow After Dark Party and Daily Dungeons & Dragons Play.”

Heidger and her team believe the Bay Area Renaissance Festival is so popular with the Tampa community and beyond because the festival provides its guests an escape from the norm.

“The Renaissance Festival is popular because it contains such a variety that can attract people of all ages and backgrounds,” Heidger said. “It is also an escape for many people; they get to come out and get dressed up and be a different person for a day.”

There is also a large variety of entertainment that happens daily at the festival which drives its popularity as well.

“There is a variety of entertainment at the festival, including music, comedy, magicians, aerial acts and, of course, jousting,” she said. “Each weekend brings in new acts as well depending on the theme. During Highland Fling weekend, the festival will feature Highland Heavy Games like Caber Tosses and Stone Throws. During Pirates and Pups weekend, you will find pet rescues, demonstrations and even dock diving dogs.”

Heidger hopes the festival will continue to grow in 2020.

“Our hope is to provide a unique and exciting experience to all of our guests as we continue to grow,” she said.

Visit www.bayarearenfest.com for info. Festival is located at 11315 N. 46th St. in Tampa and is open every weekend from February 15 to March 29 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. A list of activities and weekend themes is available on the website.