Ren Faire: Where Was the HBO Show Filmed?

HBO’s ‘Ren Faire’ is a documentary series chronicling the power struggle inside a Renaissance Fair after its owner, George Coulam, who factitiously parades around as the king, decides to abdicate his rule by choosing the next successor. This promotes a game of pageantry and spectacle as new prospective personalities enter the fray just to be handed Coulam’s crown. The show, created by Lance Oppenheim and David Gauvey Herbert, digs into the tomfoolery of a medieval-era fair where people get tied between their actual and historical identities.

Amid the feuding rivalries, romances, quirky personas, and trials and tribulations of its characters, the heart of the documentary lies in its mystically conjured world of historical fantasy. With a confluence of modern and past eras being blended into a magical setup where knights joust, bards sing, and artisans plow their trade, the filming of this mythical land where reality and fantasy have converged into one is worth exploring.

Ren Faire Filming Locations

True to its narrative roots, ‘Ren Faire’ was filmed at the Texas Renaissance Festival, the largest Renaissance-themed fair in the country. Filming occurred during the festival’s 2022 season, from October 8 to November 27. The show has been classified as a docu-fantasia for its intersection between documentary and fantasy dreamscape. However, as the colorful cast of characters inhabits their roles in real life, their hunting ground in the vibrantly stocked villages and markets of ‘Ren Faire’ was plucked from its actual location. The Renaissance Festival generally runs during the fall of every year.

Todd Mission, Texas

The Texas Renaissance Festival takes place near the town of Todd Mission in Texas. This is where the world of ‘Ren Faire’ came to life. It is at 21778 on Farm to Market Road 1774, in Todd Mission in Grimes County. Founded and established in 1974 by George Coulam and proclaimed King George by those indulging in the fair’s festivities, the Renaissance-based carnival has grown and taken on a life of its own. People come and visit in throngs to engage in their medieval fantasies of backstabbing, costume parades, and other lively events drawn from the historical past.

In a video interview, the co-creator, director, and producer Lance Oppenheim disclosed his interest in bringing the charged ambiance of the festival to life. He said that it had always been a fascination for him to be able to cinematically tell a story about the fantasy of a Renaissance festival. The attraction was mainly derived from the escapism one could achieve in the crowds of a colorful world of a distant era where people have immersed themselves in the skins of others. He believed it could achieve his goal of dropping the viewer into a world where they would be as engaged as in a fictional setting.

With 70 acres of land and over 200 acres of camping facilities provided to those making a trip, the festival is a significant attraction later in the year. The rich collection of characters in ‘Ren Faire’ is drawn from the festival’s collection of wizards, jesters, and self-anointed kings in the shape of its owner, George Coulam. Talking about the eccentric people at the festival in a video interview (as reported by Chron), Oppenheim said, “David and I are both interested in stories where people create these fantasy worlds where they can basically do whatever they want and then eventually end up becoming entombed by the extent to which they’re pursuing that fantasy.”

The show’s bizarre mix of talking dragons, knights jousting in arenas in full armor and helmet, immersive village locales, and the Shakespearean drama unraveling in the midst of it all found its home on the paved cobblestone and picturesque paths of the Renaissance festival. Although Coulam initially intended to celebrate the Renaissance, the festival has blended reality and theatrical drama into one, offering a bird’s eye view of the elaborate and enchanting fantasy people live out within its bounds. Every year, it draws at least a thousand visitors to its many stalls, musical performances, theater reenactments, and much more.

Read more: Ren Faire: True Stories Behind the HBO Show