As with a lot of summer festivals, the volunteers taking part in the B.C. Renaissance Festival this weekend won't be getting a lot of sleep.
Except for those taking part in sword fights, who are required to get at least five hours a night.
It's one of the unusual rules that comes with one of the Lower Mainland's most unusual festivals.
The renaissance festival returns to Langley this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Thunderbird Show Park for its sixth annual celebration of all things 16th century.
Martin Hunger, one of the main organizers of the band of volunteers, said the group spends the whole year working towards this weekend.
"This is the big event," Hunger said.
Starting Friday, Hunger will be putting on some threads from the early 1500s, and taking on the identity of Sir Thomas Buildswell, architect to King Henry VIII of England.
"It sort of ties in with what I do for the festival," Hunger said, as he's in charge of much of the construction and cleanup for the event.
A relatively small role also allows Hunger to be available to troubleshoot if any issues arise over the weekend.
For most of the rest of the performers, the play's the thing. They'll be in character, acting out a storyline that has been building for several years.
King Henry and his court will be visiting the village of Steller's Grove, where they will encounter a band of trouble-making pirates and a mysterious widow.
The storyline will play out over the weekend in a series of live performances staged for the attendees. Visitors can follow the action, interact with the performers, or just visit the grounds and see the other attractions.
There will be a marketplace with about two dozen vendors selling costumes and clothing, jewelry, and handcrafted and historically inspired items.
A live-action roleplaying group will be teaching visitors how to use foam weapons, there will be games of skill including a mock quarterstaff competition - using pool noodles - for youngsters, and an archery range. A human powered carousel will be spinning throughout the weekend.
Stage shows will be running for much of the weekend, and the entertainment includes Celtic songs, traditional sea shanties, belly dancing, stories for children, and traditional Korean music.
There will be jousting again this year, marking the return of one of the most popular events. Jouster Ripper Moore will be returning for his second year, now made famous by television. He's one of the coaches on Full Metal Jousting on the History Channel.
The event last year attracted about 2,200 people, a number that has been slowly growing since the Renaissance Festival's first year.
Hunger said he hopes eventually the entire festival can become selfsustaining.
"We don't get paid at all," he said. "We're all volunteers."
As for why the team works themselves ragged over the weekend, and the days leading up to it, Hunger said it's about the looks on the faces of the attendees, especially children.
"The run of the festival is always a joy," he said.
The festival's hours are noon to 6 p.m. on July 19, and from 9 a.m. to 8: 30 p.m. on July 20 to 22. Tickets are $10 for children four to 12 and seniors, $17 for 13-to 18-year-olds, and $18 for adults. Children three and under enter free.
Families of two adults and two children can take advantage of the $45 family rate.
All events take place at the Thunderbird Show Park, 24550 72nd Ave.
For more information, visit www.bcrenfest.com.