Guide to the Texas Renaissance Festival

Sunday, November 23, 2014

There's a lot of random posts going up on the blog this week, but next we'll be back into the regular Trip Planning series on Tuesday (t-minus one month to Vienna) and probably some Thanksgiving fun on Thursday. Today, however, I've finally got around to posting my little guide to the Texas Renaissance Festival. I went to Ren Fest twice this fall, and posted a few pictures about a month ago. With the last weekend of Ren Fest around the corner, I figured it was time to get the big post up.


Welcome to the Texas Renaissance Festival
The annual event where you pay people to dress up and talk to you in an English accent!
(but actually, though)

For anyone who doesn't know, the Texas Renaissance Festival is a faire or festival held annually in Todd Mission, TX that is (very, very loosely) based around the theme of the English Renaissance. Guests arrive into a huge clearing in a forest to visit shops, watch shows, eat, drink, and talk in funny accents. But mostly, the drinking and funny accents.

Seriously though, Ren Fest is a blast. It's one of the best events in the Houston area and it's a great activity for any age group. As someone who has been to Ren Fest more times than I can count, I thought I would share some of the tips and tricks I've acquired over the years.

Getting There

The Renaissance Festival's home of Todd Mission, is located about 50 miles northwest of Houston proper. It's a small community for 3/4 of the year which explodes on the eight weekends in October and November that it hosts Ren Fest. When I say small, I mean one lane streets all the way in and out. I'm sure that works great for them most of the time, but it's nightmare during Ren Fest Weekends. That's why the number one rule for a successful Renaissance Festival experience is to arrive early. You'll want to be there when the canon goes off at 9am sharp or risk up to 2 hours (not exaggerating) of stop and go traffic in what would otherwise be a 20 minute trip.

Oh and by the way, there's pretty much one way in, and out, so there's no getting around the traffic if you get stuck in it unless you're planning to go on horseback. My second tip is to leave early. Five hours is enough time for most people to get appropriately exhausted, so if you get there at 9am, you should be ready to leave by 2pm. Don't dawdle, 1pm is even better, but by 5 all hope is lost my friend. Get out before you turn into a pumpkin.

The last thing is buy your tickets before you get to the gate. They are cheapest bought in pairs from Costco and Walgreens is a good second choice.


Entertainment

Once you get through the gates you'll be swept up into the atmosphere. This is undoubtedly the best part of Ren Fest and you'll want to schedule plenty of time for people watching, but not right away. As you enter the grounds there will be five or six areas to buy festival guides. You can get one if you like, but they are exorbitantly priced so I wouldn't recommend it. Instead, turn to your right as you enter and visit the information booth. They can tell you showtimes and how to get where you want to go. Ask for the earliest showtimes for everything you want to see.

In terms of the quality of performances, it's a mixed bag. I never miss the Birds of Prey show and the jousting is always fun. The shows tend to fill up faster in the afternoon, so try to catch the earliest performance. There are also a variety of great musical and dancing acts that you'll stumble across as you explore, so keep your ears and eyes open. The Triple Trio performances are my favorite, but I may be biased as the girls come from my old high school.
Birds of Prey
Attractions

If Ren Fest has a week point, it's the attractions. Not that they're bad, in fact many are unique and exciting, but they cost a fortune on top of an already expensive entrance fee. I tend to skip most of them, or limit myself to one, because they're simply not worth the money. That said if it's your undying wish to ride an elephant or camel in your lifetime, you can cross that off your bucket list here.

People Watching and Wandering

At some point during the day you're going to want to take a seat and just watch. The Renaissance Festival pays people to walk around in costume and speak in British accents. These characters usually include Henry VIII, at least one of his wives, and members of a variety of other European courts. Historical accuracy takes a backseat to fun and whimsy, so don't expect the events of your World History textbook laid out in front of you. Besides these characters, a good chunk of your fellow guests will be dressed up in costumes that range from recreations of period dresses to scant chain mail loincloths and bikinis.

When you're tired of the people, the best option is one of the secluded spots deep in the grounds. There are several beautiful wedding chapels which make lovely retreats when they're not in use. And if you get sick of the noise, the Magical Garden's large trees dampen sound and provide a shady relief from the hubbub.
The Magical Garden
Wedding Chappell

Shopping

There are literally hundreds of shops to explore at the Renaissance Festival. Jewelry, woodworking, pottery, and broom making are just a few of the options surrounding you. Ren Fest is like Etsy IRL. Really. Most of the shops feature beautiful handmade items, and many of the shopkeepers are craftsmen and women preserving centuries-old techniques.






Disclaimer: This post is in no way sponsored by the Texas Renaissance Festival. All opinions are my own, based on my own experiences and memories of the Renaissance Festival and may not be entirely accurate. The Texas Renaissance Festival website is the best place to visit for official information. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section and I'll do my best to answer them.

You Might Also Like

0 comments

Popular Posts