Saturday, 27 September 2014

Stepping back in time: Three Great Medieval and Renaissance Festivals.

1. The Five-Petalled Rose Festival of Cesky Krumlov

Some years ago David and I chanced on The Five-Petalled Rose Festival of  Cesky Krumlov. Cesky Krumlov, in the Czech Republic is one of the best preserved Medieval/Renaissance towns in the world. We knew nothing about the Festival but just happened to book our stay to coincide with its first day.

We came to see the Castle and the medieval houses, instead we travelled back in time to 14th Century Europe. Czechs from all over the country had converged on Cesky for a celebration of period costume, renaissance markets, tournaments, jousting, street theatre and processions.


Lords and ladies strolled the town in rich silk and velvet costumes, jesters, jugglers, fire eaters and musicians entertained the crowds and processions wound their way through the cobblestone streets. Street stalls sold beautiful period outfits with costumes for the men as magnificent as the gowns for the women. There was medieval cuisine, demonstrations of historic weaponry and arts and crafts.  

Returning to the 21st Century was hard. Since then we have sought out Renaissance and Medieval festivals wherever we could find them. Nothing has ever quite measured up to Cesky Krumlov but it's been lots of fun trying to find a festival that does.







Fast Facts: Cesky Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Southern Bohemia, in the South West of the Czech Republic with a population of 15,000 people. In 2015 The Five-Petalled Rose Festival will be held from  19 June to 21 June. Book early and stay in the old town if you can.


2. The Colorado Renaissance Festival

Not to be outdone despite the lack of a medieval or renaissance period of its own the US has one of the best festivals we have found. The Colorado Renaissance Festival is celebrated over eight successive weekends from June to August each year. The costumes are breathtaking. So many of the Festival goers dress up that it's easy to forget you're really in the 21st Century.

The festival is held in it's own specially built town.  Revellers enter through the gates of a faux castle stepping back into 16th Century Tudor England where King Henry presides over 150 acres of fun, history and entertainment. There are so many shows it is impossible to see them all but the Grand Parade and the jousting are not to be missed.

King Henry in the Grand Parade

A knight and his lady taking part in the Grand Parade.


The Court of King Henry watching the jousting.

The Black Knight



Fast Facts: The Colorado Renaissance Festival is held in Larkspur, Colorado, about 30 minutes by car south of Denver on the I 25. It is held each year over eight successive weekends between June and August.


3. The St Ives Medieval Faire

September 2014 saw the inaugural event of the St Ives Medieval Faire in Sydney. Australia's Emerald City is perhaps the last place you would expect to see knights in armour, viking combat, Dark Ages encampments or trebuchets but the St Ives Medieval Faire had all this and more. 

The organisers took the occasional liberty with history adding to the fun of the event. Rather than plague ridden corpses or giant cannon balls the St Ives Trebuchet hurled watermelons at bundles of hay hundreds of metres in the distance. The missiles disintegrated spectacularly on impact spraying pulp, skin, seeds and juice in a fountain of devastation like an explosion of fireworks. 

Once again the not to be missed event was the jousting. The knights of Australia Sir Rod, Sir Luke, Sir Andrew and Sir Phillip acquitted themselves courageously before the newly installed King and Queen of St Ives. Mounted on fearsome steeds the combatants thundered toward each other with murderous intent in round after round of deadly battle.  Along with the rest of the audience David and I roared our support of our homegrown warrior class as their lances splintered and shattered. Points were awarded each time a lance struck home. It took me a while to realise that victory went to the knight whose lance was broken rather than his opponent. Like all spectator sports it helps to have a basic grasp of the rules.

After such a successful first year it is hard to imagine that Australia's medieval elite won't be back next year and the next and the next.



A medieval knight come to Sydney
Loading watermelons into the Trebuchet
Firing the Trebuchet - you can see the sling which held the watermelon at the top of the photo.


Fast Facts: St Ives is in Sydney's leafy North Shore about 25 minutes by car from the CBD. The St Ives Medieval Faire takes place in mid September.

For a list of Medieval and Rennaissance fairs in Australia click - here


2 comments:

  1. We had a lovely day at the St Ives festival. I found it absolutely fascinating! What a fantastically fun thing for people to get up to on a weekend. I was rather tempted to don garb and join in. I'm posting my photos on Tuesday morning at 11 if you are interested in popping over to say hi. x

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  2. Hi Bron.Thanks for the comment. I will definitely have a look at your photos. When we were at the Colorado Renaissance Festival they had stalls selling the most beautiful dresses. It would be great if St Ives began a tradition of festival goers dressing up - maybe it will as it becomes more widely known. cheers Lyn

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