Going back into the past again this year
A couple of years ago my daughter and I were invited to England's Medieval Festival in East Sussex. Since then we've enjoyed visiting each year. I was wondering if a medieval festival would have much to offer, as I'm mainly a 'chill, listen to bands and have a drink in a field' sort of festival goer normally. But I was very pleasantly surprised.
Ways that England's Medieval Festival is like all other festivals
- Camping. There is a nice campsite, with options of family camping, glamping and normal camping. The car park is close to the campsite.
- Portable toilets. Yes, sorry folks, there are plastic portable loos on site and in the camping area.
- Food. Plenty of excellent street type food is on offer, and it's not all medieval hog roasts (though they do usually have a hog roasting by the beer tent). Food ranged from vegan curries, through chips and sausages, paella, seafood, and waffles. They had fried potato swirls on a stick! And the castle tea rooms are open too, serving cream teas, sandwiches and jacket potatoes.
- Drink. Your medieval crew drank more beer than water, so you are on to a winner here. Plenty of real ales and a lager or two on offer along with wines and soft drinks at the many beer tents, bars and taverns around the site. And of course there is plenty of mead, almost certainly made by monks (may be a lie) and delicious over ice on a hot day. For those that don't like an alcoholic drink there is a fresh lemonade stand too.
- Entertainment. While there were fewer rock groups and boy bands in medieval times, they make up for it with mud theatre (as messy as it sounds), jousting, hawking displays, story telling, and some gentle lute playing. And of course the foot stomping folk bands each evening. (perfect with a real ale and the dance partner of your choice)
- Shopping. An entire shopping village awaits. Everything from mead to take home (or to drink back at your tent) to suits of armour, archery kits, pots, clothes, and even furniture! Be prepared to buy a few things, lots of great medieval toys too for the kids.
- Fancy dress. Many people at the festival will be in medieval dress. From nobility to peasant and visitors are actively encouraged to join in. Embrace your inner princess or knight, your damsel or rogue, grab your drinking horn (or buy one at the festival) and participate in the medieval merriment.
Ways that England's Medieval Festival is different to other festivals
- There are actual indoor rooms and bed and breakfast options onsite! Stay at a festival with the luxuries of home.
- There are free indoor shower and toilet facilities. They are a fair walk from the main campsite, but there is a sports hall type shower and toilet area so you can have a nice hot wash and feel much fresher than your medieval ancestors ever did.
- Living history. There is a fabulous living history village on site, wander among the tents of vikings and medieval Britons alike, discover wool dying methods, taste bread baked fresh in old fashioned ovens or attend sword school to learn to be a knight.
- Plays. There are lots of plays taking place at the medieval festival, wandering players and minstrels and also staged tales. Well worth a watch.
- Kid's Kingdom. Mini versions of the adult fun. Learn archery, watch a dragon puppet show or try your hand at making a medieval crown or dagger (only wooden!) Various crafts and games are available all day.
- Parades. Watch the King and Queen parade through the castle grounds.
- Battle reenactments. Watch a battle featuring a trebuchet and real arrows at the gates of a real castle! Hang onto your hats as cannon fire and gunshots ring out, watch the dead dragged form the battle field (to miraculously fight another day)
- A real castle and gardens. Only Camp Bestival can compete with a castle, but even at Camp Bestival you cannot venture into the castle, or explore a delightful walled garden with giant sundial. Drift around in your finery and imagine you are royalty...
So I shall be going back again this year, and once more, I'll be hoping for sunshine, and a chance to lay in a field, sipping mead, listening to the sound of hoof beats on sunbaked grass while watching handsome knights fight for my pleasure. I hope you can join me!
The festival takes place at Herstmonceaux, East Sussex over the weekend of August 25th, 26th. 27th.
Grab tickets online , day tickets available, but to fully experience the festival I advise staying onsite.