2020 update: RenFest has issued new safety guidelines due to the pandemic. They are available here. The moral of the story is: wear thy mask, stayeth home if you’re sick or have been exposed, keep thy distance, and wash and sanitize frequently..eth. Original blog post is below!
For two months every fall, you get to live your Game of Thrones fantasies… ish. I mean, you can’t be as cool as Jon Snow and Aria or as fierce as Cersei and Daenerys, but you can channel them all for a fun-field day/weekend at the Texas Renaissance Festival. The fest goes on every weekend from October 3 through November 29 this year.
IF you have never heard of Texas RenFest, A. Do you not listen to the radio? (There are ads every second!) B. Man, are you in for a surprise. It’s the biggest nerd-out, eat your heart out, mostly historically accurate fest of fun. Here’s what you do at TRF:
Shop til ye dropeth
There are over 250 craftsmen, designers, cobblers, blacksmiths and more that set up shop at RenFest. Full list here. If you got a lot of gold, go crazy. But even if you don’t, checking out the cool, old-timey things is SO much fun. Plus, if you’re in the market for a new sword, figurine, wolverine claws, etc., you’ve come to the right place.
I would think tons of these shops accept credit card sorcery, but bring some cash just in case.
Dine like/with a king
Here’s my favorite part of the fest: THE FOOD! There are so many different dining options, and if you’re not picky, just roam around and find you something. However, there’s a definite strategy at RenFest. For instance, don’t waste your calories on nuts and candies — buy them, but take them home. You wanna go for the turkey legs and the blood sausage when you’re dining in at RenFest. All the RenFest restos are listed here with their menus.
Here are real things you can eat and drink at Texas RenFest (some of which I guestimate a description):
- Potato Pancakes
- Pomegranate Mead
- Landlubber Links (links of sausage for people who prefer land to water)
- Fried Sauerkraut Balls
- Queen Anne’s Lace (funnel cake)
- German Hand-Dipped Ice Cream
- Coconut Water (for the basic gypsies)
- Fried Bacon on a Stick
- Messina Hof Wine
- Battered Pig (a pig who has filed a police report for domestic violence)
- Polish Dill Pickle Soup
- Elephant Ears (Candied elephant ears? Seems cruel)
- Sweet Pierogi
- Hot Mulled Wine
- Sea Hog (I assume this isn’t seal…)
- Bigos (a stew)
- Polska Kielbasa
- Romantycznie Napoje (yeaaahhh, no clue what this is)
- Sir Phil of Delphia (Um, cooked parts of a knighted dude named Phil? No clue.)
- Deep Fried Snickers (because we’re still in Texas, dammit)
If decisions aren’t your strong suit, and hunting for your favorite food on the fairgrounds sounds annoying, you can feast like a king at the… you guessed it… King’s Feast. This is a little pricey, but for $119 (includes admission to the fest) you get to all you can eat/all you can drink, and it’s dinner and a show! Reservations required, and the feast is rain or shine (got a nice covered area, for m’lady). Commemorative glass is a perk, plus a wench serves you. (Referring to said wench as a wench is optional.)
Jest, joust and jive
Gather ye round for the entertainment portion of the festival experience. There are COUNTLESS performances at TRF, and it’s literally impossible to go without stepping into one. Promoters will come out of the shadows to lure you into a show before it starts. (I made that sound a lot creepier than it actually is.) In fact, you can pretty much see it all at RenFest. (And by “it all” I mean all of humanity, the good, the bad, the ugly, the muddy.) Here’s the lineup.
Again, here are really real things that happen at RenFest:
- Barbarian Bombshells: Offer romantic advice; moderate to severe midriff shown.
- Birds of Prey: Falcon training; bird poop as an added bonus.
- Blunt Force Drama: Comedy and fighting; puns included.
- The Ded Bob Show: Womanizing Ded Bob thinks he’s a lot funnier than he actually is in the afterlife.
- The Executioners: Come one; come all! Die or kill your friends.
- Fire Whip Show: Hot performance; watch your eyebrows.
- The Mud Show: Water and dirt like you’ve never seen before.
- Skidmark: This guy just wanders around the grounds “begging” but he is really an actor. NEAT!
Stay late at
After Dark is the TRF after party that goes on until 1 a.m. on Saturday nights. You do need separate tickets — they are $25 or $45 with food. Each night, there’s a theme (think: Masquerade, burlesque, etc.), and a performance. Not exactly fun for the whole family. Highly recommend camping on the campsite if you plan on enjoying After Dark to its full potential.
Other things to know before ye go
- Get your tickets at Walgreen’s — you’ll save a few bucks. Gate price is $30, and it’s $25.95 online and at Walgreen’s in advance. I believe there are even better deals at Kroger!
- Go early or stay late. You can get in at 9 a.m., but the action starts at 10/11 a.m.. There are fireworks that go off at 8 p.m., so you could definitely stay for that or even later at After Dark.
- Know thy theme. Each of the 9 weekends have their own themes, check them here. From pirates to Celtic Christmas, you don’t want to forget your them!
- Bring your gold. Cash is still king for some vendors.
- Dress the part. You will regret not looking more on point if you go wearing jeans and a t-shirt. BUT, wear comfy shoes. The gravel and bricks are a tad uncomfortable to walk in when wearing flats or sandals. The Belrose is just outside the fest and has dresses and outfits to rent!
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My favorite is to go when it gets cold on Thanksgiving Weekend so we can listen to Christmas music during the drive there! Hasn’t happened in the last two years (too hot!).
And deciding what to eat truly is the hardest part about the festival.
UGH, agree about the food decision process. Guess we gotta take one for the team and just eat everything. 😉
How do you dress the part without spending a lot?
There are some shops outside where you can rent outfits and store your clothes! I liked the Belrose!
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