For decades, The Texas Renaissance Festival has been a cherished part of the fall season for Houstonians. But more recently, the festival has become one of the most famous of its kind, drawing patrons from around the country. Now, the readers of USA Today have named Texas RenFest the "Best Cultural Festival" in the U.S.

The USA Today list is comprised of 20 cultural events, selected based on travel-worthiness, chance to broaden horizons, and ability to introduce people to try new things and connect with others from around the world. Readers voted on festivals such as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and Aloha Festivals in Hawaii.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Texas Renaissance Festival opened in 1974 with only three stages, a small group of performers, and a handful of vendors. Today, the festival features 60 acres of space, eight themed villages, 400 shops, 25 stages, and hundreds of performers. The themed villages have been created to look like the architectural styles of the Renaissance period. All entertainers, shopkeepers, and staff stay in character as they dress and act out characters from 16th century princes to paupers. Over the course of the eight week event, than 500,000 people come to the festival grounds near Magnolia, about an hour northwest of Downtown Houston. Over the years, the festival has added a number of wedding venues, a king's feast, a camp ground, and a traditional masquerade ball.

This year, the festival will take place from Saturday, October 10 through November 29, 2015. Themed weekends include Oktoberfest, 1001 Dreams, Pirate Adventure, All Hallows Eve, Roman Bacchanal, Barbarian Invasion, Highland Fling, and Celtic Christmas. Tickets can be purchased online at