I tweeted a bit while I was there. see the tweets here
And now I'm back and I can tell you all about it.
First thing to say, it was WAY better than I thought it would be. Seriously, the website doesn't do it justice. The gorgeous castle and grounds alone would be an awesome place to camp, but throw in tavern tents, real ale, reenactments, and all manner of entertainments from mud theatre (as messy as it sounds) to fire eating, puppet shows, bird of prey displays, jousting, even 'have a go' jousting..
And then there was great food, living history village encampments, archery, sword shows, music, drumming (lots of drumming) even axe throwing.
I loved the camp site. We could drive right up to the camping spot and unload before moving the car to the car parking area. There were not a huge number of toilets but they were kept clean and well stocked at all times. Water points too, were a bit spread out but again not really a problem.
In the evenings after the 'day visitors' had left the festival site reopened with music and dancing and outdoor cinema and astronomy talks and stargazing for those camping.
Each day the program of events is repeated and this worked out really well as while you might think it's all a bit repetitive, in fact it meant we didn't need to rush between events that were close in time but not distance and if something clashed we just did it the next day. Over the three days we managed to see and do almost everything.
This festival is a little gem, bigger than you think it will be and excellent value for money. I shall have no hesitation in booking tickets for next year which is going to be the 25th year and promises an extra special celebration (I'm hoping for a medieval bake off event)
I learned lots about history almost by accident, things such as the weight of armour, how chain mail is worn, how arrows are used in battle, the dying of wool (and the political take on wearing certain colours) I found just strolling around chatting to people really informative, and people were all so friendly! I don't think I've ever been to such a friendly festival (this may be linked to the accessibility of mead and real ale)
I spend plenty of cash in the medieval traders market too (some traders did accept medieval credit cards!) Where you could buy anything from a full suit of armour, to an animal pelt, a drinking horn or some jewellery.
The festival is dog friendly so I took Fizz and while she was slightly overawed by the noise and bustle of the crowds she mostly enjoyed herself. The festival site is really well stocked with water points and dog bowls so despite the heat all of the dogs were well hydrated.
Having a dog did mean I couldn't go to any of the medieval banquets though, and so I'm debating leaving her at home next year so I can get my full medieval cosplay into gear and mix with the royal court over a trencher of chicken and roasted figs etc...
Find out more at the England's Medieval Festival website, I hope to see you there next year.
Disclosure : I was sent free tickets for DD and myself in exchange for the promotion of the festival but the review is my own unbiased view.