Maryland Renaissance Festival, through Oct. 21

There's something special about a Renaissance festival.

The food. The entertainment. The costumes.

One of the largest such events in the United States is the Maryland Renaissance Festival, now in its 36th year. The fest runs through Oct. 21.

"In my opinion, one of the appeals [is that] it's entertainment any demographic can enjoy," said Carolyn Spedden, the festival's artistic director.

Spedden attributed the continuing success of Renaissance festivals to a number of factors. In addition to variety, it's an affordable "staycation" for customers.

"It's a whole experience," Spedden said. "It's someplace you can stay the whole day."

Though the festival strives to accurately reflect 16th-century England, Spedden stresses this isn't Colonial Williamsburg. For example, those popular turkey legs that visitors gnaw on wouldn't have been available in England 500 years ago.

Speaking of food, other popular items include cheesecake on a stick and steak on a stake.

New entertainment this year includes the Dueling Fools sword act, contortionist Jonathan Burns and bagpipe band Cu Dubh.

"People who have never been before are taken aback by the size and scope," Spedden said.

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 21

Info: $22, seniors $19, kids $10;

Pat McGee at Strathmore, Friday

Popular Virginia musician Pat McGee reunites with a number of former bandmates and past collaborators for this special show at Strathmore in Bethesda. As an added bonus, Strathmore is hosting a preshow tailgate party in its parking lot.

When: Tailgate 5:30 p.m., show 8

Info: Tailgate $25, show $38;

Lewis Black at Warner Theatre, Friday and Saturday

The hilarious, opinionated comedian must be going out of his mind this election cycle. Find out for yourself this weekend.

Info: $49.50 to $75;

When: 8 p.m.

"White Party' at Masa 14, Saturday

On Saturday, head to Masa 14 for the restaurant's monthly "white party." Enjoy dancing, live music from DJ Danny House and specialty cocktails. If you wear white, you get one complimentary specialty cocktail.

When: 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.


Crystal Castles at the 9:30 Club, Saturday and Sunday

To say Crystal Castles is Canada's answer to Sleigh Bells is lazy simply because CC has been around longer. Check out this duo as they tour in advance of their third album, due in November. The Saturday show is sold out, but tickets remain for Sunday. With Health.

When: Doors 7 p.m. Sunday

Info: $35,