Hear ye! Hear ye! Medieval lovers.
Once a year, medieval knights from the sovereign military order of the Knights Templar gather together to organise a two day festival to celebrate all things medieval at the Tasmania Medieval Festival.
This years festival was set under the mountainous gaze of Mount Roland, in the beautiful country town of Sheffield, Tasmania.
Peasants, noble born and people of all ages, even the middle ages (pun intended), flocked to the festivities.
Expectations vs Reality
Having never attended a medieval festival before, my expectations were very high.
I was hoping for a realistic and authentic version of medieval times. You know, menacing vikings. Knights is shiny plate and chain mail armour. Heroic displays of combat. That sort of thing.
Entering the festival grounds and seeing an inflatable bouncy castle and a massive inflatable pub dominating the area soon burst the authentic medieval festival ideas. But I wasn’t ready to abandon it yet.
Historically inaccurate but fun
Admittedly, I’m no medieval scholar. What I do know is that not everything on display at the medieval festival would be considered medieval.
The medieval time period does encompass a fairly lengthy stretch of time (5th to 15th Century).
But unless I’m hugely mistaken, the Australian Light Horse didn’t exist during this time period (I’ve never heard of them historically charging against a band of marauding viking hordes), along with the more modern cannons, rifles and a few other displays at the show that didn’t meet the medieval guidelines.
So if it’s not an authentic medieval festival, then what is it?
Quite simply, it’s a fun, family friendly festival, with a solid medieval backbone.
That medieval backbone has been padded out with fun activities, some interesting military displays from more modern times and animal displays (snake show) with bouncy castles and zorb balls to entertain the kids.
The festival has a lot to see and do. Stalls selling everything from wizard staffs to tarot reading. Swords fighting displays. Fancy dress competitions. Belly dancing displays. You can even test your marksman skills with a bow and arrow.
But like most festivals, the medieval festival has some standout displays not to be missed!
Who doesn’t love the sight of armoured knights. Or the thundering of horse hooves striking the earth as they charge down the field. The explosion of splintering wood as lance connects with rider.
Watching the jousting is a bit of a whirlwind of emotions. These knight sustain incredible G-forces on their bodies and you end up dreading someone will get hurt, but it’s also exciting and you can’t help but watch.
The display ends with the knight coming to meet the crowd and the kids giving the horses some much loved pats and attention.
Birds of prey
The birds of prey (raptors) display by Full Flight Falconry was easily one of the best at the festival.
Not only could you have one of these gorgeous raptors perched on your arm (for a small fee) but you could witness them in action.
The full flight display was one not to miss. Raptors of all sizes and shapes, from the tiny Kestrel to the giant Wedge-Tailed Eagle are let loose to show off their aerial skills in this educational and humorous bird show.
The unique skills and hunting styles were on display and explained and mixed nicely with fascinating falconry history and customs from medieval times.
The display had a nice playful and humorous touch. Such as the hilariously Monty Python named Brian (who turned out to be female) and one battered remote control car disguised as a rabbit, that took one hell of a thumping from one angry owl.
Cannon & Rifles
If you like loud ear popping explosions mixed in with an interesting history lesson, then the cannon display is for you.
The cannon displays begins, not with a cannon, but with a showcase on rifles used throughout history.
Starting with bang and a big waft of smoke from the flintlock rifle to the insanely loud bang from an early cartridge style rifle.
None of these rifles can compare to the deafening boom of the cannon firing to finish off the display.
Long before gunpowder and cannons came into existence, the counter weighted catapult (Trebuchet) was used to bombard the enemy hiding in their fortifications.
First used back in the 12th century, the Trebuchet was a weapon to be feared.
At the festival however, they keep it fun and safe for the kids, with a lucky few getting to trigger the Trebuchet and fire water balloons high and far across the field.
The festival had a few food vans on site to feed the hungry masses. Most dishes were around the $10-$15 per meal.
A great budget option for families or for those wanting a cheap day out was the BBQ/Bakery tent. This unassuming tent was serving up the Australian favourites. Sausages in bread, pastries and hot chips and cheap drinks.
Entry fee and info
The festival is dirt cheap! Adults cost $6.00 AU each and children under 16 are $3.00 AU each.
Tickets can be purchased on the day at the festival entrance.
Should you visit?
If you’re after a truly authentic medieval experience and seeing zorb balls and blow up bouncing castles is going to ruin it for you, then this festival is probably not for you.
But if all you want is a cheap and fun day out, or to spend some time outdoors with the family, then this festival is for you.
The price of the festival is so cheap that when you consider the amount of displays on offer, its extremely good value for a day out.
We do think a few things at the festival could be improved upon. But we personally think this festival could one day be a fantastic event and we would love to see it grow and prosper.
We were also happy to see that the event organisers are actively trying to improve the festival.
Volunteers were wandering the festival and asking willing visitors to give their feedback on the event. Which we like to hope means the festival is just going to get bigger and better each year.