Looking for something fun and entertaining to do this weekend?The Texas Renaissance Festival opens this weekend in Plantersville and will be open for the next seven weekends. The Renaissance Festival, currently the largest renaissance theme park, brings to life the sights, sounds and smells of the 16th century. The Texas Renaissance Festival has been in operation for 29 years, beginning in 1975 with only three stages on 15 acres. Today the festival boasts four rose gardens, 330 shops and 22 stages including the new amphitheatre on 54 acres. The theme for this year is “Tournament of Champions” in celebration of the completed amphitheatre, which will host jousting. “The arena is walled in with Roman arched walls,” said Orvis Melvin, Director of Marketing for the festival. “We now have a tournament field surrounded by three sides with the fourth side being open to the horse stalls,” Melvin said. “We anticipate this will be our best opening weekend ever,” Melvin said. “We would love to invite everyone at Sam Houston to join us and return to a simpler time.”The festival incorporates many activities into the theme park. The favorite among many patrons is the jousting competition. The king and queen, in addition to other lords and ladies, watch the jousting and cheer for their favorite. The knights each represent a different country: Germany, England, France or Spain. The knight to win the final joust is crowned the royal champion. The joust performances take place at 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. The Masque of the Conquistadors, the story of Cabeza de Vaca’s travels in Texas, will be held at the Globe Theater to honor the newly crowned royal champion at 6:00 p.m.The New Market Village provides endless shops of art, pottery and cookware in addition to the delicious foods prepared by the merchants. The festival has 60 food and beverage shops that include international cuisine. A parade is held daily to announce the king and queen and allow spectators to view the array of participants that work at the festival. Everyone that works for the festival, even the ticket clerks, dress according to 16th century attire and speak the language of a lord or lady. Over 3,000 costumed characters work throughout the theme park.The festival also offers two wedding chapels, The Roman Basilica and The King’s Chapel. At the end of the day, patrons may return to the arena to view the royal fireworks show over the lake.The festival begins this weekend and runs until Sunday Nov. 16. Gates open at 9 a.m. and close around dusk, rain or shine. The festival has free parking and camping available. Discount tickets may be purchased at Pilgrim Cleaners in Houston, Apple Tree Markets in the Bryan/College Station area, Market Basket stores in Beaumont/Southeast Texas/Southwest Louisiana, Brookshire Brothers throughout East and Central Texas, and Star Tickets at Albertson’s (in Austin and surrounding areas). Discount tickets cost $18 for adults and $8 for children. Tickets at the gate are $21 for adults and $10 for children. The festival is located six and a half miles south of Highway 105 on FM 1774 between Magnolia and Plantersville. For more information about the festival contact (281) 356-2178.