January 12, 2016

Mittelalterfest ~ Going Medieval in the Heart of Bavaria


Americans have a fascination with reenactments - and not just those that pertain directly to American history! While Civil War and Revolutionary War reenactments are more common on the East Coast of the U.S., medieval and renaissance fairs can be found throughout the entire country.  These fairs are characterized by attendees and organizers alike dressed in costumes, drinking beer, eating smoked meats, showing off copious amounts of cleavage, and participating in medieval fight sequences, usually hosted in large fields where medieval-style tents have been erected for an appropriate backdrop.

Ye beautiful beer maiden.
But these American Renaissance Fairs simply cannot top attending a Mittelalterfest (Middle Ages Festival) hosted just outside a medieval town in the heart of Germany's Bavaria - it's the legit renaissance fair experience!

As with American Ren Fairs (as they're so lovingly shortened in American slang), there is usually a small fee to attend a Mittelalterfest. While costumes are not mandatory, they are highly encouraged and can elicit praise from random strangers, especially if you're sporting an impressive beard as an accessory. At WassertrĂ¼dingen's Mittelalterfest in 2012, we began by walking through a recreation of a medieval village, replete with blacksmiths, basket-weavers, woodworkers, farmers, and of course an area with long tables and benches for some good ol' fashioned, medieval-style beer swigging and slogging. You can imagine which part of the "village" proved to be the most popular.

A German renaissance festival is also similar to its American counterparts in that not all the costumed attendees are sporting authentic-looking medieval garb. Kilted bagpipers, the 18th century clothed boys' marching band of a neighboring town, and a few people who looked like they just wandered in from Comic Con could be found throughout the festival, spicing up the crowd as it were.

While the beer and wurst (sausages) were certainly popular, once the festival's Beer Queen finished serving the masses, attention turned to the Ritterspiele or Knights' Games, which were held towards the end of the evening. Hello, men in tights! Oh, and sporting fancy armor, large swords, and beautiful horses. If you forget about the lack of indoor plumbing, that life expectancy was roughly age 30, and unless you were a merchant or nobility, your life pretty much sucked, the middle ages were kind of sexy, weren't they?

Of course, the entire tournament, like the festival, will be done in German, which means that any humor created by the tournament master or contestants will be completely lost on you if you don't sprechen die deutsch as I did not back in 2012. However, it does lend an other-worldliness to the festival, making it seem that much more authentic, especially when the hand to hand combatants and jousting knights start screaming at each other. You'll be utterly terrified and thrilled - because you have no idea what's going on!

So in short if you're ever in Germany and just so happen to see a Mittelalterfest or Ritterspiele being advertised, go find yourself some tights, a tunic, or a busty bustier and join in on the medieval fun. Make some German friends over a tall one at the beer tables and cheer on your favorite knight as he tries to wallop the other guy off his horse. You'll have a blast, guaranteed!

Have you ever attended a renaissance fair?






Photo cred to S.W. on all pictures.

1 comment:

  1. Wow that sounds so interesting and fun! I have never been to a renaissance fair but now I definitely need to go (mostly for the men in tights!)

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