Monday, October 20, 2014

Agatha's Dead Men

Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery consistently knocks 'em dead!

If you're a fan of AMC's Mad Men, you're going to LOVE "Dead Men: Murder on Madison Avenue". Actually—and please don't hold this against me—I've never seen an episode of Mad Men (but it's on my list!) and yet, I LOVED "Dead Men"!


"Dead Men" | Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery
"Dead Men" | Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery


And I love Agatha's. I've been a fan of Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery for decades, so I'm embarrassed to admit that I've not been since I moved back to Atlanta. Not for not trying, because they do sell out (reservations are recommended). I was fortunate...they had a last-minute cancellation (don't count on that happening), so they had availability when I recently went without calling first.

I have to say, they're still as brilliant as they ever were! And they've always been brilliant.


Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery
Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery

I used to attend every show put on by Agatha's, and for good reason...the shows are so incredibly clever—seriously clever—and entertaining! Every show—and this has been going on for more than 25 years—is written exclusively for Agatha's. So, what you're seeing you're not going to see anywhere else.

They're now downtown, and have been for a number of years. When I went before they were at a location across the street not far from The Fox Theatre (you may recall that fact if you're visiting after a number of years or a long-time resident). Now they're only a block off of Peachtree Street, very accessible for visitors staying downtown and they have easy, very affordable parking for people coming in from other areas.

Agatha's IS mystery dinner theatre, in its finest fashion...of the entertainment type...of the you-want-to-laugh-so-you-must-do-this type...of the I'm-looking-for-something-unique-to-do type...  

Just go already...it's laugh-til-you-ache fun! Just hope the aching isn't a knife in your side. Someone's going to get killed. (They typically do in "murder" mystery, but I'm always surprised by who it turns out to be.)


Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery
Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery

The owners are long-time friends, but I'd been out of touch for quite some time and my coming in was unannounced, which made the fun we had all the better...it was real. It was real fun.

What you get is dinner and a show...and wine. And then there's a full bar! Dinner is five courses, starting with appetizers as soon as you arrive...well, after you go through orientation. You see...everyone is part of the show. That's right. If you've always wanted a stab at performing, this is your big chance!

Wait, wait, wait...back to the food. Appetizers upon arrival, then four more courses. That's right...murder mystery and a FIVE course meal. There's a chef's-choice soup, then the salad course with at least a couple of dressing options—there's a complimentary glass of wine with the salad course—then a choice of entree, which features a much wider selection than you'd expect, and dessert!

And of course there's the performance, which takes place between each course. Cliff hangers galore!


Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery
Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery

The performers of Dead Men: Murder on Madison Avenue...they're just amazing! Most of my fans know that I don't write "reviews"...I write about the things that I enjoy in Atlanta. But if I did have to review Dead Men, I'd give the performers five stars! Hands down, five stars!

I love to write, but the writers for Agatha's...I can't even approach their cleverness. So, here's what they say to advertise this particular show...

It was a simpler time, the late 1950′s. Where men were men, and women ... worked just as hard and got no credit for it. Yup...simple. And one advertising agency ruled the roost, The Silver Copper Agency with their creative director, Don Dripper. He's handsome, smart...and did we mention handsome? Things at the agency have never been better. Until someone kills the boss, and then everything is turned upside down on Don Dripper's perfectly Brill-creamed head!

Seriously...funny!

I mentioned that EVERYONE is part of the performance. That's right, everyone is someone. If you're celebrating a birthday or anniversary, you're likely to have a more significant role and if you're of the variety that might experience stage fright, not to worry...stage fright won't kill you! There are ways to participate even if you're on the shy or quite side. The stars of the show will great fun of making you a star!


Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery
Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery

When you're seated, or even before during hors d'oeuvres, introduce yourself to the other mystery dinner theatre-goers...you're going to get to know them no matter what! No, that's not a threat, that's a wonderful promise. 

On my most recent visit, I met two birthday girls and a delightful couple visiting from Saskatchewan, Canada. The wife totally wanted to experience Agatha's and the husband was totally reluctant. Turned out, he was the first guest performer and he had a blast! We started talking as soon as we were seated and later in the evening we were making commemorative photos together. Great meeting you!

From the Agatha's website: 




Go, go, go to Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery! And keep going. Dead Men is showing now through Wednesday, November 5. Shortly thereafter is this year's holiday show, The Candy Cane Murders - A Breaking Bad Holiday. It promises to transform the way you look at murder mystery!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Autumn Wine Tasting...Frogtown Cellars!

Those first chilly evenings announcing the coming of autumn is when I start thinking of excursions to wine country...and doubt me not, Georgia Wine Country is splendid!

With that, let me start with a huge "Thank you!" to Jacky, and Frogtown Cellars, for a magnificent vineyard experience! And the wine was awesome!


Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia
Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia

Even on an overcast day—this was mid-summer—Frogtown Cellars' vineyard is stunning. The lush rolling hills capped by blue mountains...absolutely beautiful!

The owners of the vineyard, Craig and Cydney Kritzer, were out of town when we visited, but Craig and Cydney, please know that Jacky was amazing and wonderful...we felt like we'd made a new dear friend by time we left. Thank you, thank you, thank you for Jacky!

Also to Jacky's credit, it was late when we arrived...only 20 minutes until closing. When about 15 minutes after closing I offered to Jacky that we could wrap up, no pressure to stay so late, she would hear nothing of it. She knew that I, and wanderlust ATLANTA, was visiting and was such a gracious host. Thank you again for making extra time for us!

We tasted a number of wines! I prefer my whites on the light and crisp side and I like my reds full-bodied and robust. Opposite ends of the scale, I know, but that's what I like. 

Jacky offered tastes of many that I enjoyed, but in particular I very much liked the Sauvignon Gris, and especially the Frogtown Propaganda, a maritage of Bordeaux grapes, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. "Propaganda" is such a clever name, and appropriate...I will be enjoying it again!


Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia
Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia

When we arrived and introductions had been made, we moved directly into tasting! We explored the winery later, but tasting wine was first on the menu...and I'm not one to argue a plan as brilliant as that!

After inquiring as to our wine preferences, we sampled a number of wines and learned about the winery, the owners, harvesting, the winery's various offerings, and Frogtown Cellar's wine making philosophy...we learned a lot!

And then there were stories. Neither Barry or I are shy when it comes to chatting about...well, anything. But life stories seem to be a favorite. 

Jacky is a conversation master! And that's part of an excellent wine experience with friends, right? All the amazing conversation...some of it about the magnificent wine and some of it about life? Jacky made us feel quite at home. 

Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia
Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia

Before we went in, we had walked over to the grapevines for a peek at the fruit...call it a preview of what we were about to experience. 

You know, unlike most food experiences in city life, we don't very often get to connect with the food and drink that we enjoy. I think that's one of the reasons I like farmers markets as much as I do. I may not get to connect with the actual farm, but very often get to connect with the local farmer...having that relationship makes my food so much better.

So, getting to "connect" with the brothers and sisters of the grapes that had already transformed into the extraordinary liquid that would soon be delighting my nose and dancing across my tongue...well, that's a magical experience. 

Purchasing a bottle of a wine at my local bottle house drive-thru window is one thing (I appreciate you guys, believe me!), and communing with nature—with the grapes, terroir, vintners, and wine that was made in my backyard—that's something special.


Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia
Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia

If you've not already, you MUST check out the Frogtown Cellars website. It's genius! And if I remember correctly, the person behind the design—a family member or friend of the family—is also the person who designed and created the amazing labels for all of winery's bottles. They're truly brilliant and he's one brilliant designer! 

When you explore the website, you'll learn the origin of the name "Frogtown Cellars"...a simple, yet brilliant concept, I think. And I just like frogs...they're fascinating creatures, as many Frogtown Cellars' wines are fascinating.

And by all means, explore Frogtown Cellars' winemaking philosophy...I believe it'll greatly enhance your wine tasting experience. Some of this you'll learn during the hospitality of the tasting, so don't feel like you have to read it before you head to the winery. And ask all the questions you want...they're there to make sure you have a good time and they love fellow wine enthusiasts!
Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia
Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia

Look at that patio and view! 

Frogtown Cellars also has a Bistro that serves some amazing looking paninis. We arrived after lunch, so didn't get to sample the food, but have a look at the menu...it has me salivating as I type! I love a good panini! 

Even more than a good panini, a gorgeous cheese board. Throw in a perfectly paired glass of wine and a view like this...magical! I could spend weekend afternoon after weekend afternoon here.



Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia
Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia

As I'm writing this, remembering the wonderful experience I had at Frogtown Cellars, I'm reminded of Frogtown Cellar's Citizen Wine Club. And I had every intention of writing this particular post while enjoying a glass of wine, or two, from Frogtown Cellars. 

Alas, the Frogtown Cellars wine that once graced my wine rack not too long after our excursion became the subject of another tasting, but very much enjoyed. Perhaps it's time to join the Citizen Wine Club!


Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia
Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia

I've always found garden weddings to be beautiful, but as the years have ticked by, more and more I've come to admire the vineyard wedding and wedding reception. You're in a natural setting, a setting where friends will be comfortable, the wine is going to be incredible—because you've enjoyed the varietals that will be offered...the reasons for a vineyard wedding make for quite a significant list.

Weddings at Frogtown Cellars sound absolutely amazing. First of all, you're in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains, they have a totally awesome pavillion—suitable for ceremony and reception—and check this out...


Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia
Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia

...Frogtown Cellars offers a selection of absolutely stunning classic vehicles in which the bride may make her grand entrance!

There's a 1931 DeSoto Coupe...and it's going to make you feel so Gatsby! And there's a Studebaker, pictured above. Either way...these beauties will help make your special day one that your guests will remember for years!


Barry Holland at Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia
Barry Holland at Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia

I have friends—fellow wine enthusiast friends—who bring their camera with them to chronicle their wine excursions, presumably most of their wine excursions, which I think is a brilliant idea. Some of the best people photos are not so staged, but out just having fun.

Some of you know that I do a fair amount of wanderlusting with my best friend, Barry. He's an explorer, a seeker of adventure as much as I am—friends who enjoy doing the same things...imagine that! 

Anyway, as you can imagine, a vineyard is a great locale for snapshots and Frogtown Cellars is beautiful. When you share your photos on Social Media, I invite you to tag them #FrogtownCellars on Twitter and "Like" Frogtown Wine on Facebook.


Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia
Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Georgia

Let me leave you for the first thing we saw when we arrived at Frogtown Cellars...the magnificent view!

Again, "Thank you" to Jacky and Frogtown Cellars for a magnificent wine experience in Georgia Wine Country...we'll be back, with friends!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

10 Reasons to See "Scarecrows in the Garden"

Scarecrows in the Garden has become a delightful tradition for Atlantans and visitors from all over. Why? Let me tell you.

This is my fifth Scarecrows in the Garden exhibition at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and I hope there will be many, many more. Instead of recapping my latest visit, I thought I'd share with you some of the many, many other reasons YOU should see Scarecrows in the Garden.

So, in no particular order...

Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden

1. Imaginary Worlds

The above beauty is "Mrs. Payne", a creation by a local school group. I'm only showing her head because it's what was the most fascinating to me about this particular scarecrow. You definitely have to see the whole thing...these kids did an amazing job!

She's located adjacent to the Ogre, one of the 28 sculptures in this year's "Imaginary Worlds" exhibition—one of the best reasons to go see Scarecrows in the Garden. Why? Because Imaginary Worlds is leaving at the end of October. You don't want to miss it!

It's been a remarkable two years in the running and an exhibition that will be remembered as well was Chihuly and Moore. Thank you, Mary Pat, for being such an incredible visionary...for contributing so much to Atlanta! 

Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden

2. Fest-of-Ale

Fest-of-Ale is every Thursday night in October, 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and visitors are greeted by the huge scarecrow pictured above. He's also an award-winner! 

If you've been to "Cocktails in the Garden" then you'll know the basic format of Fest-of-Ale. Enjoying the Garden until 10:00 p.m., entertainment, and seasonal beverages—there are a lot of pumpkin flavored/themed ales to enjoy this season. And the Cafe is open until 9:00 p.m.

"A Flying Feat", by the Center for Puppetry Arts—another beloved Atlanta attraction and one I highly recommend visiting—was one of the winners of Scarecrows in the Garden

And, you may recall that I did a "10 Reasons to Visit the Center for Puppetry Arts" not too long ago...awesome attraction!

Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden

3. Music

During Fest-of-Ale, visitors are delighted by live music. When I visited last Thursday, the Decatur Bluegrass Association was playing and I have to say, they were fantastic—easily one of the best Bluegrass bands I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. 

I went over and chatted with a couple of the band members during a short break and these guys are as nice as they are talented. I invite you to "Like" Decatur Bluegrass Association on Facebook to learn where else you might catch one of their performances!

Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden

4. Photo-ops

If you've never had the opportunity to make a selfie with Alexis and/or Krystle (Dynasty), not to worry...Scarecrows in the Garden is coming to the rescue! 

Actually, Scarecrows in the Garden is wonderful for photo-ops, but please be mindful of the plantings where the scarecrows are—some of them may even be where future Atlanta Blooms specimens are planted. So don't assume you're not harming a plant...even if you can't see it. Don't be an Alexis!

Photos are encouraged...take all you want! When you're sharing them on Social Media, feel free to tag them #AtlBotanical, #FestOfAle, and #scarecrows. 

Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden

5. The Children's Garden

If you go on a Thursday evening, during Fest-of-Ale, be sure to visit the scarecrows in the two-acre Children's Garden first...the Children's Garden closes at dusk.

The Children's Garden is one of the brilliant opportunities for Atlantans and visiting families to enjoy the Garden in a unique fashion. 

There's weekly storytelling time, they have their own vegetable garden, there's a tree house (pictured above), there are giant frogs, there's a beehive, showering sunflowers....there's a LOT going on in the Children's Garden and Scarecrows in the Garden is a wonderful opportunity for grownups to learn what a great learning resource this is for kids.

And don't miss "Goblins in the Garden"...a festive event where your kids can show off their season's costumes on "Goblin Runway", and there are fall-themed crafts, a pony ride and a Ride-on-Train! Like I was saying...there is LOTS to do in the Garden.

Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden

6. Atlanta Events

I commend the Atlanta Botanical Garden for being so wonderfully generous in promoting other Atlanta attractions and Atlanta events...they really go above and beyond in that regard. 

For example, the "scarecrows" pictured above are an enticement to see the upcoming "Where the Wild Things Are" exhibition at The Breman Museum. I've enjoyed exhibits, events and programming at The Breman for years...they're a must-see on any list you'll see me put together. 

Where the Wild Things Are: Maurice Sendak in His Own Words and Pictures opens November 16, 2014.

Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden


7. Community

If you're wondering where the 100-plus scarecrows come from, they're from all over Atlanta! 

They're from Girl Scout troops—the scarecrow pictured above is from a local Scout troop, and another winner!—Atlanta businesses, Atlanta families, citizens, organizations, clubs, and attractions...they're from the Atlanta community

You've heard me say it again and again...the attractions and museums that foster a sense of community are the ones that I love most, and they happen to be some of the most successful in the City. 

Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden

8. The Rest of the Garden

Scarecrows in the Garden is spread throughout the Southern Seasons Garden and the Children's Garden, but there's acres and acres more to see and experience at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

From time to time I hear folks comment, "But it's expensive." However, given what the Garden has to offer and what it's doing for not only Atlanta, but for the world—through its amphibian and orchid conservation and research—admission is nominal...and, as a non-profit, you're supporting school programs, all the amazing classes the Garden offers, and you're promoting Atlanta! Thank you to all who do.

I invite you to explore the Garden's website, to learn more about all the amazing initiatives and programs and events they offer...you may be quite surprised!

I'm proud to support the Atlanta Botanical Garden through my Dual Membership, attending events regularly, shopping in the (amazing) Gift Shop, and telling all my friends and fans how amazing it is! And no, the Garden has never given me anything or a single cent to promote them...it's just one of my favorite places in all of Atlanta. It's an awesome destination!


Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden

9. Robots

Hey, I'm a sci-fi geek...how can I (and most other guys) not love robots? 

Actually, you're going to love the diversity of Scarecrows in the Garden. This year there's everything from "Pippi Longstraw" to a Merman, "Game of Crows" to a tribute to Robin Williams, and a pair of pandas by Zoo Atlanta to...well, robots!

With more than 100 scarecrows, there's definitely something for everyone!

Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Scarecrows in the Garden, 2014, Atlanta Botanical Garden

10. Tradition

Probably one of the more popular reasons to go to the Atlanta Botanical Garden to see Scarecrows in the Garden: It's tradition

Scarecrows in the Garden has been enjoyed by Garden visitors for more than a decade, and I know that the kids who are seeing it now will thoroughly enjoy sharing the experience with their kids. The scarecrows are wonderfully brilliant now...I can only imagine how incredible they'll be in another 10 years!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Celebrating 100 Years of AIGA

The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) is celebrating 100 years this year and the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) is host for their national exhibition, AIGA100: Century of Design, marking the centennial milestone.

One of the first things I learned, and there's a LOT to learn in this exhibition, is that the phrase "graphic art", which even small children today understand, didn't exist yet when AIGA was formed in 1914 in New York City. 



Doug Grimmett, Co-curator, AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta
Doug Grimmett, Co-curator, AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta

"Graphic design is ubiquitous, influential, helpful, powerful and delightful," said Doug Grimmett, co-curator of AIGA100, as well as Founder and President of Atlanta-based Primal Screen.

Doug continued, "Also, the 20th century is over. So history tells us that the United States was by far the leader in the applied arts at the end of that century. But only as a result of the wars that brought brilliant artists and scientists looking for sanctuary to our country, where they thrived and opened schools."



AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)
AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

Gallery 2 features "100 years of design that...connects, informs, assists, delights, and influences". It's a brilliant concept for demonstrating the various operations of graphic art.

AIGA started as a small club of graphic artists, printers, publishers and illustrators and today reaches across the nation with more than 25,000 professional designers, educators, students and design enthusiasts within 68 chapters. The map above notes the density of AIGA membership across the United States.



AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)
AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

You will see many works of graphic art that have NEVER before been seen by the public--a distinguished honor for Atlanta and visiting tourists--and there's quite a bit you'll recognize, such as the above "Nutrition Facts" label.

AIGA's membership has had a very active role in how we all live our daily lives, how we communicate and understand. I believe you'll be rather fascinated...as was I.




AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)
AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

When you get to Gallery 3, the large gallery toward the back of the museum, you'll quickly notice that the artifacts are displayed via timeline. Two timelines, in fact. One is a "World History" timeline--fascinatingly interesting, and the other is  a "Design History" timeline. Be sure to make time to read these.



AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)
AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)


The exhibit features never-before-seen (by the public) posters and publications, as well as artifacts, videos, interactive activities, audio recordings, and more. There's a lot to see, a lot to keep even the mildest graphic art enthusiast captivated!


AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)
AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

AIGA for many, many years published an annual print publication and there are many on display. My favorite is the AIGA Journal from 1969, pictured above. There are some incredibly brilliant works of art on the covers of these publications, but I personally have been mesmerized by this one.



AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)
AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)


There are thought-provoking quotes emblazoned on the walls throughout the exhibition. One of my favorites, not shown in any of the photos in this particular post, is "Design is important because chaos is difficult". That gem of profoundness was authored by Jules Feiffer, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist and Academy Award winning screen writer.



AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)
AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

The exhibition is largely about communications, which is a primary function of graphic art. I'm over simplifying, but I think you'll understand what I mean when you visit. Through design, whether internationally recognized symbols to communicate action or non-action, to campaigns that dramatically changed our country--look for the "VOTE campaign" posters.



AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)
AIGA100, Design-A-Poster, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

Of course it just wouldn't be a MODA exhibition if there weren't an interactive design activity. At AIGA100, visitors have the opportunity to design a poster! Be sure to make a photo of yours and hashtag it #modatl and #aiga100 when you "publish"!

Notice the color waves in the visitor-designed poster above? That element is from one of the posters, by Milton Glasser, on display in the exhibition and was an influencing factor in a Primal Screen-created promo for the final season of Mad Men. It's a brilliant and beautiful work of graphic art...I've watched it at least half a dozen times already!



AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)
AIGA100, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

One of my favorite pieces in the exhibition is a "100" comprised of 101 postcards created by designers across the United States, each representing AIGA work from every year in AIGA history, 1914-2014.

Enjoy the exhibit through Sunday, October 5, and do let the museum staff know what you thought of it and what was your favorite piece.

Next up at MODA, "Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair", which is already receiving quite a lot of fanfare! There's an Inspiring Beauty Preview Party on Friday, October 17, and the exhibition will run from Sunday, October 19, 2014 through Sunday, January 4, 2015. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Medieval Times' Knights To Remember

One of my favorite aspects of the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament experience is the multitude of photo ops. What? Me...photo ops? Surprise, surprise, right. 

That the King, Princess, knights and squires, wenches, falconer, and every other person on the kingdom's payroll (not to mention the magnificent horses, the falcon, and the owl) make it so much fun makes it all the more a splendid experience. 

I've been to the Atlanta Castle a couple of nights recently, and brought along a number of friends who had yet to experience the gallantry of the knights, beauty of the princesses and the majesty of those magnificent horses...quite so close up and in-person!


Tournament Princess, Medieval Times Atlanta
Tournament Princess, Medieval Times Atlanta

Let me jump right in an tell you about the little princess pictured above. It was her birthday and it's one she'll never forget! After the Blue Knight won that tournament, he and the Princess crowned her Tournament Princess

She, her sister and her father (who gave me permission to share the photo) were sitting right next to us and her crowning made the evening all the more fun, for everyone around. She was an enchanting and distinguished little princess, one to be commended for her grace. 


Lady Anne, Master Falconer, Medieval Times Atlanta
Lady Anne, Master Falconer, Medieval Times Atlanta

There's a LOT going on before (and after) the doors to the Arena are opened, including the opportunity to meet one of the stars of the show...Echo

Echo is a falcon who has been performing at the Atlanta Castle for approximately 4.5 years now. His (I think it's a "he", but truthfully I didn't confirm that) trainer is Lady Anne (pictured above with Echo), a Master Falconer. He adoration and great care for Echo is immediately apparent when you start talking with her.

When you visit, seek out Lady Anne and Echo. She will gladly share with you some insight into why Falconry is called "The Sport of Kings" and give, if asked, a little more detail about the training and how it's less a performance but a mutual cooperation, true to nature. 

Echo is a spectacularly beautiful creature and I was so fascinated to have met him...and Lady Anne, too. 


Knighting Ceremony, Medieval Times Atlanta
Knighting Ceremony, Medieval Times Atlanta

When you visit, you may have the opportunity to be knighted by the King! Especially if you're celebrating a birthday or anniversary or other special occasion. I'm not sure who that is in the above photo...another visitor to the Castle, there to celebrate a birthday, I believe. 

I think it's cool that someone who's more than eight years old (and there were those, too, of course) wasn't at all shy about being knighted! Who doesn't have dreams of being a celebrated knight (or princess, as the case may be), right?!

Just to the right of the knighting ceremonial space you'll see a series of tall vertical windows. Go over to those and peer into a habitat that houses a splendid owl, one that belongs to the largest owl family in the world! It's wing span is nearly as wide as I am tall! Ask Lady Anne about it when you're meeting Echo.


King's introduction of the Knights, Medieval Times Atlanta
King's introduction of the Knights, Medieval Times Atlanta

Before the King takes to his observation tower with the Princess, he'll be on the arena floor to greet the knights, who had been introduced as visitors were welcomed into the arena. Be sure to listen for details of the knight for whom you'll be cheering—you'll know which one he is by the color of your own crown.

Oh, and while I'm talking about the King, as you enter the Castle, you may have a souvenir photo made with either the King or the Princess. On my most recent visit, we opted for a photo with the King. The Princess is prettier, but my friends wanted a photo with the King...a great photo to have, just in case.

You can pick up your souvenir photo almost immediately! The 8"x10" photos are beautifully framed in a heavy stock paper folding frame with opulent detailing. The first copy is only $20 and subsequent copies are only $10. We got two, Ashley's treat..."Thank you, Ashley!"


Tournament Majesty, Medieval Times Atlanta
Tournament Majesty, Medieval Times Atlanta

The tournament is a fun-filled two hours long...and there's a LOT going on. As many times as I've been—and I love it every time!—I've not yet committed to memory the precise naming of the segments of the tournament. Good thing there's not a pop quiz at the end!

The procession above is, however, one of my favorites. I love how regal it is. The horses, their dress, the knights, the flags, the...everything about it! From the time you enter the Arena to the time you leave, there's some sort of performance, gallantry, contest...it's action-packed!

Even while your "wench" (who have all be wonderfully entertaining, highly attentive, and impressively professional—Thank you, All!") is describing what's about to happen dinner-wise—and be sure to pay attention, she's imparting very important information—there's still a performance taking place on the arena floor.


Blue Knight, Medieval Times Atlanta
Blue Knight, Medieval Times Atlanta

As I'm sure you can imagine, there are more than the the six knights who participate in the tournament. There are the squires, the game masters, the flag bearers, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few others. It takes an army to stage a tournament of this magnitude! Oh, and there's the evil visitors from another land—the whole reason for the tournament!

Actually, that's not true...the tournament is for the entertainment of all the Lords and Ladies who are there to have a great time! But Medieval Times makes a drama-filled spectacle of a tournament, for one and all.


Knights of Medieval Times Atlanta
Knights of Medieval Times Atlanta

I'd love for you to learn more about the horses. You'll get to know the knights before, during and after the tournament, but be sure to get to know something about the horses before you go, so that you can fully appreciate the performance you're seeing.

The horses are magnificent and it's obvious—to me, having worked with horses—that they're very well cared for, and pampered I'm sure. After only a few years of performing, they retire to their original home where they live out their natural lives. 


Lady Ashley with Knights of Medieval Times Atlanta
Lady Ashley with Knights of Medieval Times Atlanta

Lady Ashley (pictured above) is a dear friend and not at all shy about having fun, and she also has an impeccable work ethic, both of which are qualities I admire in her. So, while other friends have been somewhat timid about having photos made with the knights and princesses (and I can be that way, too), not Ashley! 

I don't think I'd be very far off base if I were to assume that Ashley subscribes to my philosophy that life is too short to not have as much fun as you can! That life is meant to be enjoyed and we often take it too serious. Yes, it's important to work hard and do the job you're paid to do, but it's also great to venture into other realms, from time to time.


Lord Ahmad and Lord Dave with the Princess of Medieval Times Atlanta
Lord Ahmad and Lord Dave with the Princess of Medieval Times Atlanta

Ahmad and Dave were on the same visit with Ashley and they were all three a total blast to as Lords and Lady. Thank you all three for a glorious adventure with the knights!  

I'd be remiss to not mention the Dinner! The most fun about dinner is that you enjoy it Medieval-style. Do you know when forks and spoons came into popularity? 

The meal is a feast. I see most people take leftovers home, but I'm a trooper when it comes to the dinner plate. I want to enjoy the full experience in the moment. Four courses are served and the meal includes a non-alcoholic beverage. 

But not to worry for those who wish to enjoy an adult beverage. There's a full bar and table cocktail  service, as well. If you enjoy wine with your meal, you can even pre-order a bottle a the bar in the Great Hall before the arena opens and it'll be delivered to your table with no wait.

Remember to plan to leave a tip for your serving wench. Like practically all dining establishments in the modern world, gratuity isn't included with your ticket...and please be generous. They're working folk just like you and I—and they've been impressively remarkable every time I've been!


Suit of Armor, Medieval Times Atlanta
Suit of Armor, Medieval Times Atlanta

While you're exploring the Castle, have a close look at the suits of armor peppered throughout the Castle...the detailing is quite spectacular. 

Since I was a kid I've been a fan of the Medieval era, and especially of armor. On one of the recent visits, my friends who have a place overlooking Centennial Olympic Park were along. They have a suit of armor who we all respectfully refer to as Henry. It's nice to know that he's always there to guard...and how cool to have a real suit of armor! 

And I was quite surprised at how reasonably priced the armor elements, swords, and other assorted items are in the gift shop. No, I wasn't asked to mention the gift shop, I've just always wanted a sword.


Travis with a Knight and Princess, Medieval Times Atlanta
Travis with a Knight and Princess, Medieval Times Atlanta

Well, of course I'm going to get in on the photo ops! Remember, that's part of the fun. And every single person I asked to make a photo with or of was happy to pose. I hope they realize how great a finish that is to an already wonderful evening.

One recommendation—and I should take my own advice—Don't get so caught up in the picture-taking that you miss the tournament or miss having a grand time with your family and friends. You can always visit again and make more photos.  

While I hope my enthusiasm for Medieval Times had encouraged yours, let me leave you with a few brilliant words from Medieval Times about the experience that awaits you...

"Be swept away to an age of bravery and honor and witness epic battles of steel and steed. From ringside seats, discover a feast of the eyes and appetite with all the splendor and romance of 11th Century Spain. As you thrill to a rousing, two-hour live jousting tournament, marvel at awe-inspiring horsemanship and falconry, Medieval Times serves a four-course meal fit for royalty."

Head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook page for more photos of my Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament visits...hope to see YOU at the Atlanta Castle sometime soon!