Huzzah, ladies! It is almost time for the most enchanting, exciting and always entertaining Texas Renaissance Festival! If you have never ventured up to the Magnolia area to partake in this event, you need to take that trip this season. I have been going every year for the past 25 years, oftentimes dressed to impress, and always have a rousing good time. Let me give you all the info and tips for making this a fun family adventure this fall.
The 2023 Texas Renaissance Festival is October 7-November 26.
History and Basic Info
The Texas Renaissance Festival runs this year from the first weekend in October through Thanksgiving weekend. Originally developed in 1974, it has grown to become the nation’s largest renaissance festival, with over 55 acres that include over 400 shops, 21 stages for entertainment, treats and food galore, games and rides, and the best people-watching that can be had outside of Bourbon Street.
Gates open at 9 AM and the festival runs until 8 PM. There is ample parking, and you can also pay extra to valet or do VIP parking which is closer. Tickets can be bought at the gate or online at www.texrenfest.com. Kids 4 and under are free every day and kids 12 and under are free on Sundays! Be advised that tickets are date-specific, so you may want to wait until it is closer to make sure you can go as there are no exchanges or refunds.
There is camping and RV’s are allowed at the campgrounds for an additional cost. I have never done this but have known others that have, so they can come for the weekend and attend both days. However, the majority of people I know that attend usually just drive up for the day.
Every weekend is a different theme, from Pirates to Fairies to Barbarians and more. You can definitely wear costumes, but it isn’t a requirement. If you do dress in costume, make sure your private bits are covered and your weapons are sheathed and peace-tied. Whatever you wear, also make sure it is comfortable and that you have good walking shoes. Renfest is HUGE! Be aware that there is a lot of shade, but there can be limited airflow and it can get quite stuffy on warmer days. Pro tip: Ice packs in your corset.
You can bring strollers, wagons and wheelchairs, but you cannot bring in pets unless they are ADA service animals. Also allowed are water bottles and food or snacks for babies and toddlers. However, there is a TON of food options at the festival, and I highly recommend trying some of the themed items.
My Top Tips for the Best Visit
As a long-time fan and attendee, I have a lot of experience with the festival and have lots of tips for you:
- Buy your tickets online and get a discount.
- Come early and be prepared for traffic. If possible, try to approach the festival from the north side, through Conroe.
- Bring cash. Most vendors take credit cards but some do not. Have plenty of dough on hand for little side vendors, like when your daughter freaks out about getting a flower crown or her face painted.
- Pace yourself. Like I said, the festival is huge and takes time to get through. Stop for a spell in one of the gardens and have a glass of wine. Make sure to buy a program on entry which includes a map and schedule of events and entertainment.
- If you think your kids may get tired of walking, THEY WILL. I have two girls, ages 3 and 5, and will still plan on bringing a wagon for them to hop in and out of at the festival so I don’t have to carry them. I can also use it to carry my Lady McArthur salsas.
- October is usually still pretty warm, even hot, at the festival. November becomes much cooler, so this is when I prefer to go.
- Every weekend is themed, and each has certain activities that go along with the theme, so be on the lookout for those.
- If you can, consider dressing up your kids for the theme. I have done that with my girls and they loved it and felt so special.
- Be sure to catch the Grand March at noon to see King Henry, Queen Catherine, their court and all the different entertainers and vendors.
- Investigate a show before bringing your children; they are not all kid-friendly. Hint: if it is occurring at The Barbarian Inn, it is not for kiddos. You can see which ones are ok in your program or online.
- Sample as much food as possible, and be sure to get a glass of cool mead! Really, the food and drink are SO good here. I start my day off with a Scotch egg, then for lunch sample a turkey leg, bread bowl soup or lamb gyro, and finish it off with an apple dumpling. Delish!
- There are a LOT of people dressed up in costumes and just begging to have their picture taken with your children. Don’t be afraid to ask for a photo opp and tip a dollar or two if you can.
Favorite Shows, Shops and Games
There is so much to see and do at the Texas Renaissance Festival, and it is impossible to mention every single part of it. But here are some of my favorites that bring me back year after year:
- The Mud Show: These Sturdy Beggars hilariously fight, romp and even eat mud on their stage. The kids will think it’s hilarious.
- Cantiga: Beautiful renaissance music by a group that has been playing together since the 70’s.
- The Fire Whip Show: Everyone will enjoy this show, with tons of whips, knife throwing, jokes and yes, fire.
- GDT Global Dance Theatre: A great ethnic dance show to watch while sampling some yummy Greek food.
- Hanlon-Lees Actions Theatre (formally the Royal Joust): Your kids will definitely want to see this real life joust which takes place in the Arena. Be sure to sit up close!
- Tartanic: A group of loud and fun Scottish musicians that have been playing since the first time I visited years ago. A must-see!
- *In Memoriam* The Ded Bob Show: If you are looking for this wonderful show, it is no longer in production. Ded Bob’s human handler passed away last year. Maybe someone will pick it up in the future and “Bobnotize” us once again!
Games and Rides
The best games are back in the Enchanted Forest. You can ride elephants or camels, shoot bows and arrows, throw axes and hatchets, and try to dunk a wench, among others. The littles can ride dragons, catapult frogs and ride in the King’s swing. If you stay around the Arena, there are pony rides and more swings and jumping games.
There are a ton of places to buy gifts and souvenirs, but here are some places that I have purchased from and can highly recommend their merchandise:
- Flower Garlands: There are numerous merchants walking around with beautiful flower garlands to adorn your and your daughter’s heads. Buy one and save it for cute woodland family pictures.
- Uncommon Adornments: Beautiful renaissance and Celtic inspired jewelry
- The Scot Shoppe: Kilts, tartans and all you need for dressing your Highlanders
- Pixie Point Fairy: The cutest fairy and dragon wings for your kiddos
- Ravenswood Leather: One of the best shops for all the leather goods you could want
- The Royal Fan Shoppe: Lovely feather fans and headpieces
- Designs in Wax: Watch the artists hand make candles and be sure to take one home
- Jodi Bove Hot Glass: Watch a glass blowing demonstration and peruse the exquisite designs
- Lady McArthur’s Fiery Fare: Tons of salsas and jams, many with a kick
- Enchanted Manor Winery: The best wines and mead in all the kingdom
And there you have it my fair maidens! All my favorites and top tips for making your trip to the Texas Renaissance Festival one to remember. Huzzah!