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For eight weekends running this fall, 300,000-plus Texans will once again crowd into the faire-grounds of the Texas Renaissance Festival near Plantersville to celebrate 16th century life and merriment in what has turned out to be one of the largest events of its kind in the nation. The festival is now in its 32nd year.

The dream of visionary George Coulam has come true just outside of Houston in the form of a 54 acre themed park site that has grown over the years from vendors selling trinkets on a blanket under the shade of a tree to a comprehensive festival grounds full of performance stages, Renaissance-era shoppes, cobblestone pathways and a Roman-Greco ampitheatre.

Festival goers are entertained all along a route that winds its way across the park. Jugglers, minstrels and fortunetellers interact with the milling crowds, who stop and browse the 300-plus shops of New Market Village where high-quality handmade crafts like pottery, metal works, and wood carvings are offered for display and commerce.

The hundreds of festival staff and volunteers adorn 16th century attire and speak the Queen's English, providing detail to a Renaissance village that looks as though it may have just popped in from the past.

It all gets underway this year starting Sept. 30, and once again each of the eight weekends of the event will be themed. The over all festival theme is one of great celebration, where all of Europe has come to pay homage and to celebrate the birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, Katherine.

Weekend themes and dates include:

9/30-10/1
Oktoberfest - Germany opens the faire in true Oktoberfest style with the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales. The air will echo with Alpine yodeling and the wafting smells of Bratwurst and sauerkraut.

10/7-10/8
1001 Dreams - Bring your dreams to life as wizards, elves
and fairies enchant the streets of our fair village. Come and live the fantasy!

10/14-10/15
Pirate Adventure - Ye best set sail me hearties for a swashbuckling weekend as Pirates invade the shire. Search for treasure, drink bottomless pints, sing songs of the sea life and enter the best-dressed Pirate Contest.

10/21-10/22
Roman Bacchanal - The Romans taught us many things, but above all they taught us how to party. Help us celebrate the glory of Rome with the ultimate toga party.

10/28/-10/29
All Hallows Eve - Ghosts and ghouls come out to celebrate the  scariest of holidays. Compete in our costume contest and win fantastic prizes.

11/4-11/5
Highland Fling - Be transported to the highlands as New Market Village honors all that is Scottish with a weekend full of dancing, singing and drinking.

11/11-11/12
Fiesta de Espana - The glories of Spain and the New World are displayed for all to see as New Market Village commemorates all that is Spanish.

11/18-11-19
Celtic Christmas - Come meet Father Christmas as New Market Village welcomes in the Christmas season with 16th century grandeur.


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