Columns > Published on May 1st, 2017

It's Faerie Season!

Image via Fae Magazine

Back in January, I was pretending to be a proactive parent and sticking interesting community events on my calendar for the year, because last year, I heard about all the cool things two days after they happened. Anyway, I noticed what I thought was a curious and local tradition called the "Tulip Fairy & Elf Festival" here in my relatively new town of Boulder, CO. What on earth was this? The website promised a fun afternoon of performances, face painting, and a parade to "welcome the tulips." Sounded weird, and oh, it was. I took my 3 year-old son who follows the adventures of Justice League, and my husband, who follows the adventures of the Avengers, and we walked around like a group of straightedgers at a hippy festival. It was like a Faerie Halloween zoo. Little girls who love princesses were in their element, as were all of the adults who would show up to Renaissance Faires dressed like fairies or goblins. Because dress-up.

In my brief faerie festival afternoon, I saw wizards, I saw magic wands, and yes, I saw tulips. But mostly, I saw an opportunity for cosplay and immersion that felt new and different. My curiosity led me to explore what is definitely a festival genre happening all over the world. My local event was a lite version of something played out more substantially in other cities. Many of these festivals are multi-day events, with camping and multiple stages and things for all ages. Some create faerie courts, some seek to commune with faerie spirits. All of them have vendors selling those lovely ribboned head garlands you can't wear anywhere else.

The tradition of faerie festivals is hard to pin down, but clearly was borne out of May Day celebrations in Great Britian. May Day is a holiday pre-dating Christian times and marks the beginning of summer. Maypoles, Morris dancing, and baskets of flowers are hallmarks of this day. May Day also falls at the same time as Beltane, a Gaelic festival celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Beltane celebrates the union of the May Queen and the Green Man, but the main event of this festival is the bonfire. Because what is a British holiday without a bonfire? Crap! Clearly the place to celebrate Beltane bigly is Edinburgh - they've been going large on this holiday for 30 years. It's not so hard to see how faeries and faerie celebration derived from these existing pagan holidays. What's interesting is just how popular they are.


Image via Todol.com

Here are some upcoming events in the US and abroad where you too can get your faerie on:

May 5-7: May Day Fairie Festival. Glen Rock, PA

The mother of all US festivals, the Fairie Festival in Glen Rock boasts 12,000 attendees and has been the subject of a documentary.

May 6: Spring Fairy Festival. Tacoma, WA

10th annual gathering! Fire-breathers, belly dancers, and Clover, the Balloon Fairy.

May 20: Festival of Faerie. Lafayette, CO.

A short local festival with an emphasis on cosplay and stage performances.

May 20: Baltimore Faerie Faire. Baltimore, MD

A local gathering culminating with a Faerie Ball.

June 9-11: Maryland Faerie Festival. Darlington, MD.

A weekend camping adventure, complete with faerie courts, a Greenman march, and Sweet Stardust, a real unicorn! Performers last year included Wedji TuCheeks, a "goblin with the heart of a faerie."

June 16-18: 3 Wishes Fairy Festival. Torpoint, Cornwall, UK.,

Seeking to record the largest gathering of fairies - ever! - this year.

June 23-25: Fairy & Human Relations Congress. Carlton, WA

A smaller and more intimate affair, this gathering is "dedicated to Promoting Communication and Co-Creation with Nature Spirits, Devas and the Faerie Realms." The location is stunning.

June 23- July 2: NY Faerie Festival. Ouaquaga, NY

Renaissance Faire for faeries. Includes a Faerie Queen and her Court, camping, and jousting.

August 5-6: The World of Faeries Festival. South Elgin, IL

A local festival in the woods of Illinois. Very family friendly.

August 12-13: New Forest Fairy Festival. Burley, Hampshire, UK.

Workshops on reading runes, animal communication, and "platform mediumship."

August 17-20: Green Man Festival. Brecon Beacons, Wales, UK.

Quite possibly the Burning Man of faerie festivals.

August 25-26: Labyrinth Masquerade Ball. Los Angeles, CA

The dress-up party to end all dress-up parties.

August 25-27: Faerieworlds. North Plains, OR

Claims to be the world's largest faerie festival and they may be right. Coachella for faeries, with headliners like Omnia.

If you can't quite get yourself to a faerie locale, consider perusing some of the literature. There's my new favorite quarterly: Faerie Magazine. It's so great! It's a lifestyle magazine with faerie inspiration! Lush, magical photo spreads, knitting patterns, recipes for things to eat in the forest, product comparisons on things like like black soap, and profiles of artists and musicians with a faerie bent. There are also short stories and essays on topics like connecting with the sublime. Find it at your local Barnes and Noble. Yes, Barnes and Noble!  Also of interest is Fae Magazine, a British publication which bills itself as being about "Faeries and Enchantment." The photo spreads are definitely more revealing and it has a more local feel, whereas Faerie Magazine wants to be Faerie Vogue. It's well on its way.

Share your faerie recommendations in the comments!

About the author

Stephanie Bonjack is an academic librarian based in Boulder, Colorado. She teaches the relentless pursuit of information, and illuminates the path to discovery. She has presented at national and international library conferences, and is especially interested in how libraries evolve to serve the needs of 21st century patrons. When she’s not sleuthing in the stacks, she enjoys chasing her toddler across wide open spaces.

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