Best Cultural Destination

Best cultural destination in the USA is in Houston's backyard, according to readers poll

The best cultural destination in the USA is in Houston's backyard

Texas Renaissance Festival, crowd, costumes, November 2012
The costume-clad crowd at the Texas Renaissance Festival. Adventures by Aaron
Texas Renaissance Festival
Fireworks light up the evening sky at the Texas Renaissance Festival. Photo by Steven David Photography
Texas Renaissance Festival, crowd, costumes, November 2012
Texas Renaissance Festival

USA TODAY and 10Best (its version of a Reader's Choice award) asked its followers to vote for their top cultural festivals out of a pool of 20 nominees. And the winners, chosen based on travel-worthiness and the ability to not only broaden horizons but also get people to try new things, have been announced.

Ranking No. 1, as the "Best Cultural Festival" in the nation, is the Texas Renaissance Festival.

In its 40th year, the annual event, which spans 55-acres in Todd Mission, Texas (around 50 miles northwest of Houston), features tons of food, drinks and shopping, plus an interactive cast of entertainers of jugglers, musicians, fortunetellers and more. The RenFest nosed out the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for the top spot.

“When people step through the Royal Gates into the Texas Renaissance Festival, they are transported, not only to another time, but to another world,” general manager Terre Albert said in a statement. “We are very excited to be a premier destination event for so many people and families across the country. We want to thank all of our fans for their votes and invite everyone to see us again this fall for another unforgettable season.”

The Texas Renaissance Festival, which takes place this year over eight weekends from Oct. 10 through Nov. 29, also beat out the likes of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Aloha Festivals. Among events that did not make the Top 10 were Comic-Con International in San Diego, Mardi Gras New Orleans and Fiesta San Antonio.

For the complete list of the "Best Cultural Festivals" in the U.S., click here.