Hear ye, hear ye! Calling all Lords and Ladies, gather by the hearth while I spin a magical tale of far-away lands and cultures. Where fierce Viking warriors bake bread in a stone oven, and shimmering Romani women dance their way around the camp. Here there are glittering knights jousting, there an earth-shuddering cannon splits the air. ‘Tis true, for I speak of the Abbey Medieval Festival held this past weekend in the fantastical kingdom of…well…Caboolture, Queensland, Australia.
Ahem, forgive me, I had to do it! It’s not often I get to indulge the side of me that is a complete history nerd, and the festival was definitely a chance to do that. The Abbey Medieval Festival, held on the 11th and 12th of July every year, was so much fun and an experience I won’t soon forget. I had been once before, when the festival was new to its location at the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, but in the years since it has grown to twice the size and was positively packed with things to do and see.
There were reenactors representing medieval England, Vikings decked in traditional fur armour, Turkish Janissaries and oil wrestlers, a complete Romani (gypsy) camp chocked full of colourful costumes and mysterious fortune telling, a parade of hounds, and Italian condotierri teaching festival-goers how to fence. Brave people in full suits of shining armour clanked around under a bright sun, women in gorgeous medieval and fantasy-inspired gowns strutted their stuff, and even a few cosplayers abounded, representing Game of Thrones, Dragon Age 2 (my favourite!) and other fantasy series.
Tents crowded one end of the grounds, offering handmade leather goods, elaborately crafted swords, ceramics made on the grounds of the festival by the chillest potter there ever was, and absolutely gorgeous dresses, cloaks and accessories. Oh! Of course I can’t forget about the sausages, custard tarts and, of course, the honey mead I thought I’d try in the spirit of the day. Let’s just say it came in a shot glass, and it wasn’t my cup of tea (Read: It was so strong I only got a quarter of the way through before seeing little knights of my own)!
Then there was the jousting! Fearless knights plunging across a field atop powerful horses was a sight I’ll never forget. The crack of the lances as they broke against each others shield filled the arena and, along with the cheering, really transported me back to an era where jousting and tourneys were a legitimate form of entertainment, like going to the movies (or festivals!) is for us.
The festival was a sensory overload, and my camera was constantly snapping at the suits of armour on display, or the thousands of people in costumes. With an expected 20,000 visitors over the weekend, the Abbey Medieval Festival has been touted as the most popular festival of it’s kind in all of Australia, and I must say it deserves that place.
I could truly go on all day about how awesome the festival was, how great it is that history is being remembered and taught to the younger generation in such an interactive and inspiring way, and just how dang fun it was to see and interact with grown men and women who took a step back in time on what was an absolute adventure. The truth is the Abbey Medieval Festival is something that needs to be experienced, and if you’re ever in the Caboolture area on a sunny weekend in July you just have to go!
– Shannon xx
For more information, don’t forget to check out the Abbey Medieval Festival website here.
Did you go to the Abbey Medieval Festival? Keen to get there next year? Well, I don’t blame you! Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below.