Next week, students at some Houston-area schools will visit the Texas Renaissance Festival for its 10th Annual School Days, an event in which the festival is open exclusively to groups from public, private, and home schools. This year’s School Days will be November 4-5, 9am-4pm.
While Renaissance Festivals are not normally known for educational opportunities, the focus of School Days is explicitly on combining education and fun. Students will have the opportunity to watch a joust and interact with festival staff in 16th-century period costume. Artisans in the shops will put on live demonstrations of their craft throughout the day, giving students a firsthand and up-close look at blacksmithing, glassblowing, and pottery making. Stage shows will include an exhibition of birds of prey as well as magicians and a variety of musical acts.
Most of the shows and demonstrations featured in School Days are also part of the festival’s usual offerings, but not all of the festival’s usual shows will play during School Days – the less kid-friendly and more adult-oriented acts are notably absent from the program.
As a supplement to the festival’s standard fare, School Days will also feature contests for students and performances by student groups. Awards will be given for student art, poetry, essays, and most notably for the performance of student-build trebuchets, which will be tested in an open event at the jousting arena. In addition to the contests, there will be several performances by school orchestral, band, and choral groups.
Events like School Days can be useful educational tools inasmuch as they appeal to a broad base of students. While a visit to an art gallery or a staging of a Shakespeare work would almost certainly teach students more about art or English literature, a more general event like School Days can encourage students to pursue the interests they might have in art, English, history, or even engineering.
If you want to learn more about future School Days opportunities for your child’s class, or if you’re a homeschool parent interested in purchasing tickets for next week’s School Days, you can find more information at the Texas Renaissance Festival website.