The Texas Renaissance Festival runs some major parallels with other niche pastimes, like soccer and professional wrestling. Each appeals to a certain crowd that can safely be described as diehard. And, perhaps most important, each is best enjoyed — particularly for casual fans — in the company of said diehards.
As it pertains to the Ren Fest, which began September 30 and runs on weekends through Thanksgiving, I most certainly qualify as one of these casual fans. I kinda checked out on the medieval portion of high-school history class, and I’m not really into the whole cosplay thing. But damn if I don’t appreciate those who are.
And this is where the Ren Fest, like other niche activities and events, is best. The patrons who attend the event make it worth the price of admission. They come early. They stay late. They camp out. They party. They dress up. The Ren Fest is a good time made great because of its constituents.
And, new this year, those constituents have new options in which to spend a weekend (or several) at the Renaissance Festival. Ren Fest, now in its 43rd year, has offered acres of tent and RV camping for decades. People show up on Saturday, set up their tent or RV (even saw a tepee on site this past weekend) and make a weekend out of it. Beginning in 2017, however, Ren Fest attendees can now up their game a bit by staying in a climate-controlled cabin.
This past weekend, my two sons and I were fortunate enough to stay in the King George Inn, one of five cabins on the Ren Fest grounds. A few informational tidbits on these cabins:
- They are ideal for two people, solid for three folks and feasible (but a stretch) for four. Up to four cots are provided per unit, but tenants must provide their own blankets and pillows.
- As mentioned above, each cabin comes equipped with its own air-conditioning unit.
- Each cabin includes access to a personal lockable portable toilet, a parking space, shower tokens and shuttle passes to be taken to and from the festival itself.
- Cabin dwellers are allowed to bring their own food, drink (yes, this includes alcohol) and cooking gear. However, no cooking is allowed in the cabin, and no pets (service animals notwithstanding) are allowed on the festival grounds or in the cabins.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this camping excursion, mostly because I’m not much of a camper. Sure, I can get down on a night in the great outdoors when the weather is right, but on the whole, I far prefer staying in climate-controlled conditions and having access to modern-day amenities. The new cabins at the Ren Fest allow those of a similar ilk to have it both ways.
In addition to air conditioning, each cabin is within walking distance of a nearby shower area (one shower token provides one minute of shower time, and soap and shampoo are for sale). Additionally, a sort of on-site general store allows convenient access to toiletries and various things one might need while camping.
For those looking to leave the kids at home, the After Dark Club is located a stone’s throw from the camping site. And for those who brought the kids (as I did this past weekend), the cabins are located close enough to the nearby bonfire and after-party area where a quick visit to roast some marshmallows is feasible, but far enough away so that when it’s time to get the kids to bed, it’s quiet enough outside.
As for the cabins themselves, they measure approximately 12'x8', have a wood floor, an open floor plan (ideal for those looking to fit three to four folks in a cabin) and vaulted ceilings. And the little front porch that adorns each cabin is absolutely adorable and large enough to fit in a few chairs. Plus, the cabins are spread out far enough to where each cabin almost maintains its own yard/outdoor area of sorts. For instance, the family next to us over the weekend rolled some chairs out front of their cabin and fired up the grill, but never impeded our little outdoor space as well.
A minimum two-night stay is required, which runs $450 total. Those who book by the Tuesday prior to their visit receive 20 complimentary shower tokens, free campground entry for one vehicle and free shuttle service to the festival grounds and back. Reservation requests are currently ongoing.
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A few other odds and ends from this weekend’s Ren-festivities:
- The on-site staff, from those running the shuttles to the general store to the reservation booth, could not have been friendlier nor more helpful.
- It was a bit warm for early October, which is probably why the Ren Fest is so popular between Halloween and Thanksgiving, when the weather drops to a bearable level.
- The turkey legs? Still badass.
- Finally, props to the tattooed, drunken fella in a kilt who was way more into the joust than anyone has even been into anything before. Watching him cheer on his particular competitor, whilst giving other competitors the verbal business, may very well have been the highlight of this weekend’s festivities.
- I now own my own personal three-foot marshmallow/hot-dog roaster for bonfires. So there’s that.
For more information and to book a reservation, visit texrenfest.com.