The enticing aromas of roasting meats and sweet mead waft among the crowds of costumed revelers. Over the clinking of chain mail and metal armor, jesters and entertainers jeer at passersby. “GIVE ME A DOLLAR!”, yells Skidmark, the filthy “beggar”, at a child that passes too close to his collection tin. Further on, the King of the Festival stops two children dressed as ninjas demanding to know who sent assassins and who their target may be! Just another early morning at the Texas Renaissance Festival.
In 1974, just an hour northwest of Houston, a modest gathering of artisans and enthusiasts founded what would become the nation’s largest festival of its kind. Originally only 15 acres, the fair now spreads over 55 acres with over 200 acres of camp grounds. Where artisans one sold their wares on blankets spread in the shade, they now inhabit eight authentic themed “villages”. These villages boast over 400 shoppes, 25 stages, 6 wedding chapels, countless pubs, and mouthwatering food hawkers from around the world. For over 40 years, and for nine weekends every fall, The Texas Renaissance Festival has brought the 16th-Century to life with authentic flare.
The reedy drone of Tartanic’s bagpipes blare out from the Dove Meadow Stage. Over at the Globe Theatre, The Clan Tynker perform sword swallowing feats and tight-wire acrobatics. The piercing crack of bull whips draw audiences to the Falconer’s Heath Stage. There, Guinness Book of World Record Holder, Adam, dazzles m’lords and m’ladies with his Fire Whip Show. With whips aflame, he snips roses from his wife’s mouth, snuffs candles, and cracks multiple whips simultaneously at over 600 cracks a minute!
Crowds gather in close for a better view as blacksmiths hammer out hand-forged goods such as daggers and swords. Glass-blowers amaze spectators as they transform glowing globs of silica into gorgeous pieces of glass. Weavers, knitters, leather workers, potters, and woodcrafters are just a few of the artisans demonstrating their skills and selling their art. Hammered armor, leather jerkins, ale horns, wool kilts, and more spill out from open shoppes, beckoning shoppers to venture inside.
Adventure awaits around every turn. To the left, stilted giants wander among the throngs of costumed crowds pausing for pictures and teasing unsuspecting patrons. To the right, everything from woodland elves to gypsies and belly dancers prance along the streets and alleys. Bar maids and tavern wenches belt out bawdy drinking songs over the clash of jousting knights. Pirates, Celts, Scots, Barbarians, Wizards and more don their most authentic regalia and stroll the grounds with their favorite pipes or tankards of ale.
So dust off your lederhosen, polish up your pirate’s hook, and brush up on your favorite drinking song because I hope to see you decked out next year at the world famous Texas Renaissance Festival!
- Every weekend of the Festival boasts a theme! While you are in no way limited to that theme, just know the hecklers and jesters may poke fun at you if you veer off theme. It’s all in good fun of course!
- Speaking if good fun, there’s a chance you will be heckled and jeered at anyway. It’s all part of the fun and revelry of the festival so please don’t be sensitive. If you are easily offended, it may be best if you skip certain shows, especially the adult pubs.
- With over half a million festival-goers visiting the Texas Renaissance Festival every year, traffic can be brutal. Arrive early to beat the crowds and stay late if possible. Especially if you love a great firework display! Better yet, since the festival only occurs on Saturdays and Sundays (with the exception of the newly added Celtic Christmas weekend) camp out or book a local hotel or cabin in order to see as much of the festival as possible with the least amount of travel time.