The Texas Renaissance Festival
The Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF) is located in Todd Mission, Texas (near Plantersville) which is about 50 miles north of Houston. Area-wise it is the largest Renaissance fair in the US, and is one of the most popular. It runs in the autumn (from early October to late November) during which the weather is mostly cool and pleasant, making it enjoyable to stroll through this medieval theme park and take part in the variety of games and activities.
The festival, modeled after a 16th century British village (or Kingdom as they fondly call it), is open on weekends for 9 weeks as well as on Thanksgiving Friday with a different theme every weekend (see below for more information).
You can watch a variety of shows, play exciting games, join fun contests, view interesting demonstrations, and buy souvenirs in the "shoppes." There are also plenty of eateries throughout the village so you will never go hungry. Many people also wear costumes to the park. You either can wear your own or rent one by the front gate.
There is a fireworks show (the Royal Fireworks) held over the lake right before the park closes at dusk. If you love mother nature, you can choose to camp at the campground adjacent to the village.
I have been to the Texas Renaissance Festival a few times and I loved it! Read through this page to learn why :) I look forward to visiting it again in the future.
All materials, including photographs (which were taken by the author), on this page are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.
What is a Renaissance Festival?
A Renaissance festival, also known as Renaissance fair(e) or Medieval festival, is an outdoor theme park which emulates the middle age time period, usually opens on weekends for several weeks at various times throughout the year depending on the location.
Typically you will see lots of folks (visitors, vendors, and staff members alike) wearing ancient or antique style costumes from different time periods, and fantasy characters such as the Vikings, Barbarians, warriors, knights, pirates, wizards, fairies and elves. There are also medieval oriented shows, games, rides, arts and crafts, along with foods and drinks. Some fairs, like the Texas Renaissance Festival, also provide the opportunity for you to have a wedding there. Imagine what a romantic occasion that would be.
Some would think that the Renaissance festival is a European phenomenon, but did you know that it's actually American for the most part? You can read more about that on Wikipedia.
Besides The Texas Renaissance Festival, other notable similar fairs in the US include the Great Lakes Medieval Faire and Marketplace in Rock Creek, Ohio, The Bay Area Renaissance Festival in Tampa, Florida (okay, who initially thought it was in the San Francisco area?), King Richard's Faire in Carver, Massachusetts, Ye Merrie Greenwood Faire in Washington, and the Koroneburg Old World Festival in Corona, California.
Have you ever been to any of the above or some other ones perhaps? You can share it with us in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Adorn yourself with classy Renaissance Jewelry
Adds to your magical day at the festival.
Video introduction to the TRF - by The King himself
The Texas Renaissance Festival's 9 themed weekends
From Oktoberfest to Celtic Christmas
As I mentioned in the introduction, there's a different theme for every weekend at the TRF, for a total of nine. These themes have always been the same as far as I know, especially in recent years, although the order may be slightly different every year. However, the themes for the first and last weekends (Oktoberfest and Celtic Christmas respectively) have always stayed the same.
So here are the 9 themes:
This is the theme for the opening weekend. You can indulge in delicious German food such as bratwurst and sauerkraut, drink plenty of beer, enjoy traditional German music and dancing, and take part in the Alpine Yodeling and Polka contests as you journey back in time to Bavaria and the Black Forest.
You will relive your magical childhood fantasies as you meet the wizards, fairies, and elves throughout the kingdom. Are the elves a little mischievous? Well, don't worry, it's all in the spirit of fun. You will also meet Queen Titania as she judges the fantasy costume contest.
So you think you can talk like a pirate? Then join the contest and try yer luck! Otherwise, just relax and watch the crew of the Pride of Bedlam in action or check out the fine treasure at the Pirates' Cove.
All Hallows Eve
Since Halloween is my favorite holiday, naturally this is my favorite Texas Renaissance Festival theme. Vampires, ghosts, and other spooky creatures haunt the village as you and the kids trick-or-treat and savor a steak on a stake. As the sun goes down, glittering Jack o'Lanterns create an eerie scene throughout the village. Taking the Ghost Walk (more on this later) would be a perfect way to end your haunted day.
Heroes and Villains
Are you a hero or a villain? Well, the choice is yours. But either way you'll have fun battling each other in your favorite costumes. If you believe your strength is in eating, there will be plenty of matches for you there too.
Can you scream "toga, toga, toga!"? You may want to join the world's largest toga contest and show off your physical attractiveness. If you have a big appetite, why not join the pasta eating contest? Can use a little wisdom? Visit the oracle of Delphi. Otherwise, just enjoy your day and "do as the Romans do."
Put on your favorite kilt as you visit the shire and try the different ales or a Scotch egg. You may also find the Bonnie Knees and Highland dance contests exciting. If you're energetic and agile, this is the perfect theme for you!
If you're a weakling, you better pick a different weekend to visit since you won't stand a chance against those ruthless invading Barbarians! Just kidding :) Let the kids take on a Barbarian while you compete in one of the rowdy barbaric fashion contests and devour a whole turkey leg.
As the festivities come to an end at the Texas Renaissance Festival, Christmas is just around the corner. So, it's only appropriate to have this theme on Thanksgiving Friday and the closing weekend. Prepare for Yule as you take a sip of hot spiced mead or mulled cider and behold the beautiful holiday decorations. For an even more magical experience, remain after dark when all the lights are on.
The TRF exact location
Why I love the Texas Renaissance Festival
More cool and interesting things about the village
Delicious food and drink
With all the excitement and fun you can easily get hungry and thirsty but don't worry, there's plenty of food and drinks in the village. I must mention that the prices may be a little high, but you are out there to have fun and enjoy the day, so give yourself permission to splurge :) Ethnic foods abound in the Kingdom. Which do you prefer? Italian, Spanish, English or Polish? You can find it all there, and have even more options to choose from.
I love the smoked whole turkey leg. It's huge, so you may want to share it with your partner or kids. Here's the fun part: you eat it with your bare hands! Don't worry, the Barbarians do it too.
Want to go all out and have the ultimate dining and entertainment experience? Attend The King's Feast!
The weather in autumn is not always predictable. Some days are warm while others are cool/cold. No worries though, the Kingdom is always prepared. Cold beer, shaved ice, and other cold drinks are available on warm days to quench your thirst. When a chill is in the air, hot chocolate, warm mulled cider, or hot spiced mead is ready to warm your body.
When you visit the Texas Renaissance Festival you will meet plenty of cool people, be they vendors, staff members, or visitors. Most of them are laid back, friendly, and fun loving. Among them are Pagans and hippies.
The Magick Cauldron is a Pagan store which sells jewelry, candles, knives, herbs, incense, oils, soaps, as well as Renaissance gear. It's an interesting store to visit even if you're not a Pagan.
You will also see a number of people walking around in their bare feet either as part of their costumes or with no costume at all. I enjoy going barefoot, and Texas Renaissance Festival is a great place to do so. Feeling the dusty paths, grass, and cobblestone walkways with your bare soles is a magical experience. Although I have never been there when it rains or shortly after, I have heard that during those times the paths become muddy and delicious to walk on! :)
Expression of freedom
When visiting the Texas Renaissance Festival you can release your inhibitions. You can be whoever you want to be even if only for a day. Besides wearing a costume or going barefoot, you can express yourself with cool body arts. There are several locations throughout the park where you can get a henna tattoo or your face painted.
Did you know that this enchanted Kingdom is also haunted? No, I'm not just referring to the All Hallows Eve theme although it adds to the spookiness. But there are also real ghosts that roam the village after dark. Are you brave enough to meet them? Then join the Ghost Walk which takes place after the park closes and most visitors have left.
"This is a very spiritual place", said one of the tour guides. Besides bravery, you will also need plenty of energy as you will be walking around the village again for about one and a half hours on this walking ghost tour. Only this time the guide will take you to the most haunted locations where the presence of spirits have been noted by many over the years.
My day at the Texas Renaissance Festival
My wife and I started early on Saturday morning as we had to drive over an hour to get to the park. Well, not too early though, since we're both night owls :) We got there at around 11 AM. We figured we would have some time to walk around before we ate lunch. It was the All Hallows Eve weekend and I was really excited. I thought about wearing a costume but it was quite a warm day, so I decided against it for I didn't want to sweat and feel uncomfortable the entire day. Instead, I was dressed in my favorite outfit: T-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. In retrospect, I should have just walked in barefoot, but I was afraid they might not let me in, and I'd rather play it safe.
The first thing we did was get a guide book which contains a map of the village with all the shops and attractions. The lady who sold the book was wearing a period costume with a fancy looking hat. She said "thank you and blessed be." I figured she was probably a Pagan.
We then walked around and did a little shopping. There were a few people in there walking in their bare feet, and my wife, knowing how much I love going barefoot, suggested that I take my flip flops off and put them in one of the plastic bags which I gladly did. It was very nice to be able to feel the dirt and the grass beneath my feet. My wife is not much of a barefooter, though.
Soon it was lunch time. Without a second thought, we went straight to the turkey leg stand. It wasn't cheap, but it was pretty big and the two of us shared one leg. We also ate other food as we strolled along and saw interesting edibles. We had a delicious funnel cake for dessert.
After lunch we decided to watch Cast in Bronze (see below for more information). The Bell Man delivered a stunning performance that awed the audience. We decided to buy a couple of his CD's afterwards. He offered to sign them which I gladly accepted.
My wife went to get a henna tattoo on her arm. It was an angel holding a sword and a flower which looked really cool. We also went to see the Ded Bob Show which was very funny and entertaining.
We were having so much fun that time flew by quickly. Before we knew it, it was starting to get dark which meant the park would be closing soon. The Ghost Walk Tour sounded very interesting, but we were quite tired and didn't really feel like walking around the village again for another hour and a half. So we just watched the fireworks and left right afterwards.
We had reserved a room at a nearby inn, so we didn't have to drive all the way back home that night. There happened to be a steak house right next to the inn, so right after we checked in, we went to the steak house and had a really nice dinner. As soon as we got back to our room, we took a nice warm shower before retiring for the night. We drove back home the next morning after breakfast.
It was a wonderful and memorable weekend at The Texas Renaissance Festival. Perhaps next time we should buy a 2-day ticket so we would have more time to relax and take the ghost tour :)
I highly recommend visiting The Texas Renaissance Festival.
Texas Renaissance Festival Pictures - Enjoy pictures from my visit to the TRF
Texas Renaissance Festival Poll
The Texas Renaissance Festival official website
- Texas Renaissance Festival
The Texas Renaissance Festival is one of the largest, most acclaimed Renaissance fairs in Texas and offers themed festival events for 9 weekends in the Fall.
Rate the Texas Renaissance Festival (only if you have been there)
Visit another great Texas festival
- Fun at the Texas Crawfish and Music Festival
Get a glimpse of the fun you can have at the Texas Crawfish Festival held every spring in Old Town Spring, TX.
Would my Lord and Lady be so kind as to sign my guestbook below? Please share your experiences or just tell me you enjoyed this page (just scroll down a little).
The Renaissance Guestbook - Your comments about the Texas Renaissance Festival or other medieval faires
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on August 24, 2015:
I've been to a number of Renaissance Festivals, but not this one. Looks fun.
CharMarie on October 03, 2013:
It's crazy! I live right by the Renaissance Festival yet I've never been. Don't know why this happens every year! Loved your lens!