I’ve been going to Renaissance Fairs since my early 20s. Twenty years later, I still love going to them! The fairs have been growing over the years in popularity from when I would meet at local parks and watch “sword” fights(with fake swords) to now going to the largest fair in the United States – the Texas Renaissance Fair also known as the TexRenFest.
This gigantic fair has been around over 45 years and grows larger each year. It is hosted on 70 acres just north of Houston, Texas. There is even a town that has been created just because of this giant fair… Todd Mission, Texas. TexRenFest is also a host to 200 acres camping for those going to the festival and those working at the festival. The TRF After Dark party is also held in the camp grounds at a somewhat newly built building.
The place is massive!
Is this your first adventure at the largest renaissance festival in the US? To get the most out of your visit, plan ahead with these tips. From deciding which weekend to attend to making sure to not miss the live jousting, read through this guide for tips for the Texas Renaissance Festival.
Picking your date
One of the unique things that makes the TexRenFest so amazing is the many themed weekends they offer. Whether you fancy pirates, fairies, or even barbarians, they have a weekend for you! We’ve been at the festival during fairy weekend, pirate weekend, All Hallows Eve weekend, and the Highland Fling. All of them were great! You’ll be amazed by all of the custom costumes you will see at this renfest. Plus, there are games and costume contests geared toward the particular weekend’s theme.
Plan your garb
You don’t have to dress up to go to a renfest. The first time I went to the Texas RenFest, I just had on normal everyday clothes. I was so excited to see so many people dressed up! Now, we always dress up when we go. I have standard outfits – an over coat somewhat designed from the 1400s and a wench costume; my husband is a pirate every time. There are plenty of vendors you can purchase outfits and accessories from at the festival. You can also decide to shop for medieval-themed pieces online if you’re trying to go for the full dress up. What you choose to wear doesn’t have to coincide with the weekend you go. It doesn’t even have to make sense; check out this butterfly?
I think this is another one of my favorite parts of going to the TexRenFest, you be you and have fun. (Just keep it family friendly… except in the wild part of the camp ground).
Plan your stay – Camping
If you hate traffic, then staying at the campgrounds is the way to go! It can take up to an hour or more getting to the parking area if you are not staying on site. There are over 650,000 people that visit the festival each year. That’s a bunch of traffic to have to sit in to get there! If camping, or RVing, or little cabins, or the royal yurts, aren’t your thing, there area many hotel options in the surrounding cities. Click here for the TexRenFest suggested places to stay.
If you decide to camp, here are some things to consider. Purchase your festival tickets and camping pass before you go. This can help you save money and time. Be sure to have these printed out or a screen shot of the tickets and camping pass on your phone before you go. Sometimes the cell reception is not very good. Also look online at the map to scout out a place to camp before getting there. There is a revelry area(potential nakedness in this area), the middle lands, and the family area which is closer to the gate. If you are bringing children, be sure to stay in the family area. There area also areas that “clans” that rope off certain areas for their groups like the Pirate’s Booty clan – which is obvious in the party area. Research the map before you go and if you can try to get there before dark so it’ll be easier to pitch your tent. There were plenty of port-a-potties throughout the campgrounds but be sure to bring your food and water/drinks with you because it can be a hike back to the main entrance where the little convenience store is located.
Like I mentioned before, getting there can be a hassle. That’s why we’ll most likely camp from now on. Todd Mission, Texas, is a town that was created just because of this festival. There is one road that runs North-South to get to the camping gate and main gate. It usually is much much easier to come from the North to get in. Otherwise, you’ll be winding through Magnolia, Texas and hoping you don’t get stuck by the train on top of all of the people coming from the Houston and surrounding city/suburbs. Visit the TexRenFest Maps & Direction page for latest updates on traffic and best routes.
If you are reading this way before the fall, then you should be able to find some deals in the next few months. Save money by purchasing tickets and camping passes online. In the past, you could find deals on tickets at places like Walgreens. Check the TexRenFest ticket link to see if any sales are happening. In the past(check for the year you are attending) children 12 and under are free on Sundays. Also be sure to join their Facebook page as they occasionally have giveaways for tickets and season passes and more! Other ways to save money at the festival is to budget ahead of time and bring a picnic lunch that you can eat at your car.
The parking at the festival is actually pretty easy to deal with. They were smart how they created the parking area way back when. If you don’t want to have to walk the short hike to the main gate, then choose the VIP parking option. It will cost a little more but could be worth it. Also there are rickshaw type taxis for a fee/tip that can give you a ride to the main gate and later back to your car. There are also handicap parking options as well.
Pick out your shows before you go
There are so many different shows to see at the TexRenFest! Our favorites are the belly dancing and the fire whip show. There is also the live jousting that is awesome and don’t miss the 1.5 million fireworks shot off each night that are AMAZING! Check the website for the list of shows that are going to be happening. Also, see the picture above? That’s well before a show started. Some people get there a bit early to make sure to get a good spot for the most popular shows. I love the fire whip show and the belly dancers the best!
Get a brochure at the gate
This is SO handy to use throughout your adventure. It helps with figuring out when and where the shows are, where to find food, vendor locations, and most importantly mapping out bathrooms! We always get a brochure/catalogue every time we go.
Food & drinks
Turkey Legs – need I say more?! LOL Over 90,000 turkey legs are consumed during the festival. That’s no joke! But, there is so much more to the food and drinks menu at the festival. There is a coffee shop, sit down dinner and a show(2xs daily), fried anything you can think of, kettle corn, bacon on a stick, the options are endless. And the drinks? Of course, there are water and sodas but there are lots of alcoholic drinks as well… I hear the mead they make for the festival will knock your socks off! This was testimony from a huge 6ft+ tall man that has no trouble holding his liquor – usually!
Fun & games
Wanting to feel like an authentic knight? The jousting ride is for kids AND adults. It’s pretty funny to watch grownups trying to get their lance into the ring. There are all sorts of rides, a rock climbing wall, cross bows, a haunted house, hidden garden trail, challenges like hanging from a bar for a minute to win money, bow & arrows, tomato torrent & drench a wench, and more! And so many fun things to do and see.
With over 500 vendors at the TexRenFest, there is something for everyone! The building above is where my husband bought me an authentic looking bag that matched my garb(I’m loving it and you can see I’m holding it in the group shot above). It’s handmade by the lady that has owned this business for I think over 30 years. From jewelry to handmade bags and purses to art to toys, there are lots of options for gifts. We purchased my mom-in-law a semiprecious stone necklace that was hand built by a vendor that has been at the Tex RenFest for many years as well.
Looking for authentic period weaponry or dress, there are many shops to choose from at the TexRenFest. Something, I love about all of the independent vendors are the buildings they are required to construct to get to sell at the festival. I believe this adds so much interest to the ambiance. One of my favorites has giant dragon lurking on the roof!
Photo ops and cast members
Throughout the TexRenFest grounds are living statues and cast members. There are Greek statues, genies, barbarians, an “owl” person with a nest to sit in, and more. Be sure to tip the cast member if you get a photo with them as a thank you. When we first arrived this past year, just past the main gate were some playful young ladies who swept up leaves and were laughing and playing. They were in maiden type outfits and throwing leaves at each other and sweeping up the leaves again. Just this seemingly little skit they played out somehow brought more authenticity to the festival and made us feel more immersed into the time period.
Family friendly fun
The Texas Renaissance Festival is definitely a family friendly event! There are plenty of shows and games and things to see for the whole family. There are even pony rides! We have taken our kids starting when our youngest was just around 3 years old. But there will be fun to be had even when they reach their teen years!
Do keep in mind though some of the TexRenFest shows are not at all for kids. Most of these will have a “Rated R” sign up or the people putting on the show will all but kick out people that have young kids with them. Trust me, these shows can get pretty raunchy with song lyrics and jokes. These are just a few of those shows but just something to keep in mind when bringing kids.
Don’t miss the ride on a “horse” mini coaster track while you try to make a lance go in a ring like “training” for jousting. It was cute to watch the kids try it. It was hilarious to watch adults try! This is just to one side of the main jousting arena a fireworks display area. This is just one of the many fun things for kids and adults to enjoy!
Being the largest renaissance festival in the United States, the TexRenFest has something for everyone! I never feel like one day is enough and am so happy that we are starting to go every year. Have you been? Comment below with your favorite tips with a link to your website and I’ll add it to this article!