‘When I grow up, I want to be a knight!’.
I glanced in the revision mirror to see a very determined, tired, but happy face of a three-year-old boy, who’d just had the time of his life at the Abbey Medieval Festival.
This is a true story, along with my daughter who had announced a few years previously….
‘It’s so lovely to see so many people come to celebrate with me,’
Her name is Abi and she was convinced for years that the festival was an event in her honour. It still makes me giggle.
Our family started attending the Abbey Medieval Festival in 2012 because, to be frank, I’m a bit of a history nerd. I love visiting museums and reading biographies, so when I heard about the festival, I knew it was something I wanted to experience for myself and we haven’t missed a year since!
Initially, we didn’t know what to expect, my daughter was the only one in costume as a ‘fairy princess’, whilst the rest of us just rocked up in our jeans. This didn’t prove to be an issue, as there was just as many ‘un-costumed’ bodies as those that really took the opportunity to expand their normal everyday dress code options.
What we loved from the outset once inside the event, was the diversity of market stalls selling medieval themed wares at very reasonable prices. Much of which was handmade. Over the years we have acquired a collection of timber swords, shields, archery caps, bow and arrows, flower crowns, helmets and pelts all purchased from the Abbey. We’ve now got a storage box for all the items and each year the kids start pulling everything out to decide what they’ll dress up as. It’s so much fun!
Over the past several years, I have had the pleasure of accompanying the following personalities to the festival:
Last year was the first time I took the plunge and dressed in some medieval threads, whilst not ‘100% authentic’ I think I looked the part.
Aside from the opportunity to ‘dress up’ and buy unique items, the other element of Abbey Medieval Festival that I immediately feel in-love with was the atmosphere. When we walked through that ticketing gate for the first time, it really was like stepping back in time. Everything from the theming to the absolute enthusiasm of the festival staff and medieval encampments. It was busy and exciting, just as it would have been way back in 1400AD, crowds cheering at the jousting arena, cannons firing and merchants selling wares, not to mention the smell of open fire pits and pig on the spit.
We loved exploring all the various re-enactor encampments and were super impressed with how many hands-on educational experiences were on offer. The kids got to grind their own wheat and even taste some traditional medieval bread, which explained a lot about why people of this era didn’t have great teeth! My daughter was particularly fascinated by Medieval Medicine and the tools they used for surgery. It’s become a bit of a tradition to seek these re-enactors out and for my two kids to ask them LOTS of questions. Each year they are as generous with their time and knowledge as the previous year.
What’s also really cool, is many of the encampments have opportunities for kids (big kids too) to try on medieval armour. When you put on the helmet and some chainmail, you get a better appreciation for the medieval battles of old, but also respect for the Knights that participate in the joust at the Abbey Medieval Festival.
Now about that joust, it’s hard to explain what it was like attending the joust for the first time. We just went with the flow and shouted a lot of HUZZAH, which was fun. Over the year’s we’ve read up a little more about the joust, because we do love it, and learnt more about the rules. Did you know the joust actually has a point system! Once you learn some of the rules, the joust becomes even more fun, it’s like watching a great game of footy. LEARN MORE ABOUT JOUSTING RULES HERE.
The Abbey Medieval Festival has become part of our family activity calendar and I love that each year, as they get older, the kids appreciate something different from the year before. I feel we are very fortunate to have such a wonderful event very close to home, however, it’s definitely an event I would travel to attend.
You don’t have to be a history lover like me to have a great day at the Abbey Medieval Festival, if you love attending events, this one will tick all your boxes. You’ll never experience anything else quite like it!