The Texas Renaissance Festival launched its 38th season Oct. 6 and runs weekends from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Nov. 25.
The largest festival of its kind in the United States, TRF drew more than 490,000 visitors in 2011. And we’re pretty sure every one of them had a turkey leg.
The event, which pays tribute to the 16th century, complete with a king and queen, features 60 acres of entertainment, shopping and demonstrations of old-world arts such as coin minting, paper-making and weaving. Spread over more than a dozen venues, all-day entertainment ranges from jousts and men with fiery whips to gypsy musicians and comic theater such as the Ded Bob Show (with a talking skeleton as its star).
Food is one of the TRF’s main attractions, and you’re never far from a tavern serving adult beverages. One of the most popular events at the festival is the twice daily King’s Feast, which features serving wenches, an all-you-can-eat (and beer and wine) meal and much merry-making.
The King’s Feast costs $99 and includes regular TRF admission and a commemorative drinking vessel.
General-admission tickets for the Texas Renaissance Festival are $25 ($12 for children). Discounted tickets are available online and at Randalls and Walgreens. Group tickets and family packs also are available. For details, go to texrenfest.com.
Now that summer has finally withdrawn far enough to make going outside something closer to “fun” than “punishment from an angry god,” it’s time once again to trek to Magnolia for weekends at the Texas Renaissance Festival. Being that most of us spend our days in jeans and not pantaloons and fight our duels on Facebook, not with honor on the jousting field, you might require some literary inspiration to get in the proper mood. Perhaps these books will help ...
‘The Once and Future King’
T.H. White’s modern rendition of the life of King Arthur was the inspiration for Disney’s “The Sword and the Stone” and is considered one of the greatest works of fantasy ever written. Even better, it’s absolutely hilarious in a way you wouldn’t necessarily expect of a classic, making it an easier, if less scholarly, read than Thomas Malory’s “Le Morte d’Arthur.”
‘Men of Good Fortune’
Tucked into “Sandman: The Doll’s House” is one of Neil Gamain’s finest short subjects. In it, the anthropomorphic personification of dreams makes a deal with a soldier named Hob Gadling. Starting in 1389, they will meet once a century in a local tavern for a drink, and Death will not touch Gadling until he asks for it. It’s a riveting look at how the world has and has not changed since the Dark Ages.
If pirates are more your thing, the classic ‘Captain Blood’ by Rafael Sabatini can’t be beat. Peter Blood was sold into slavery by James II for treating wounded enemy soldiers during the Battle of Sedgemoor, but escaped his fate to become the most brilliant pirate king of all time.
‘Life in a Medieval Castle’
Joseph and Frances Gies can tell you everything you could possibly want to know about medieval castles, including how they repelled invaders, hosted parties and even how the toilets worked.
‘Farmer Giles of Ham’
One of J.R.R. Tolkien’s lesser-known works, this fairy tale follows a crotchety farmer who eventually tames a dragon and rises to a lordship using nothing but his will and wits. It’s a short, easy read that pokes fun at many of the fantasy tropes Tolkien himself followed.
‘The Short and Bloody History of Knights, Spies, & Pirates’
John Farman’s abridged histories are comically illustrated, and full of humorous trivia about famous knights, which include a ridiculous real-life stand-in for Monty Python’s Black Knight. (It ends about as well for the real one as it did in the movie.) The pirate and spy sections are excellent as well.
‘Mists of Avalon’
Marion Zimmer Bradley takes a more feminine look at the Arthurian legends, focusing on Arthur’s half-sister Morgan La Fey and the matriarchal pagan religion in which she is a priestess. Just a one-dimensional witch in the legends, Morgan’s story becomes the tale of Christian conquest of pagan societies.
Though bloody, the Scottish play is one of William Shakespeare’s best and most literary works. Lord Macbeth claims the throne through a bloody regicide and uses increasingly brutal means to keep it. Madness, scheming and witchcraft make it a must-read and good practice for RenFest language.
‘The Other Boleyn Girl’
Philippa Gregory’s novels are about as factually accurate as the RenFest itself, but she does have a gift for plucking obscure figures of history out of the shadows and giving them a new voice. When Anne Boleyn fails to bear Henry VIII a male heir, his eye turns to her sister Mary, drawing an audience into the inner workings of the Tudor court.
By Syd Kearney and Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner is a freelance writer and compiled the book portion of this post