Historical reenactments, medieval costumes and tournaments: Our tips for historical events around the world

2020, March 9 | Marcela

Historical reenactments, battles, swordsmanship, medieval costumes and crafts… There’s a whole world out there that’s out of this world. People from all walks of life shed their everyday identities and get together to make the past come alive. The calendar is packed with fantastic events to thrill and inspire you.

SARTOR BOHEMIA in an reenactmnet event showing its collection of brocades suitable for medieval costumes

As a silk merchant with broad offer of brocades for medieval costumes, Sartor has literally traveled around the world

Those who play need no explanation. For the rest of us, suffice it to say that living history (LH) or reenactment is a past-time that has attracted a growing following and can easily become a lifelong passion.  In the United States alone there are whole “kingdoms” ruled by royal clans, their politics as convoluted as anything the current administration can dole out. And our European customers may be surprised to learn that they actually live in what the American community has dubbed Kingdom of Drachenwald.

Historical societies and events offer a much-needed escape from today's over-regulated, commercial, daily grind. These events go to an entirely different level than the Renaissance fairs that are so popular among the general public. You can really get away to a place that time forgot and simply live for the moment. Community and authenticity play a prime role and participants, in playing, are actually getting more real… getting closer to the essence of things.

There are scads of historical events with camping re-creating medieval life, battles, workshops and the like It’s not always easy to choose or know what to expect. And if you're thinking about participating in an event abroad, you want to know just what you're in for, especially if it's not clear exactly what the demands are for participant costumes (must they be historically accurate (HA)? what period?) and so forth. Events are often open to visitors too, so even if you don't "play," just visiting one can still be an unforgettable experience. And besides, where else can you get a first-hand look at a medieval battle – fought by certain rules to be sure, but still the real deal and sometimes an all-out, no-holds-barred brawl (and injuries are common especially as you get farther into Eastern Europe). For more delicate souls, a medieval dancing or a tablet weaving workshop might be just the thing. In short, reenactment encompasses countless diverse activities and anyone who can be there first-hand, even in the role of a spectator, will take away something special.

To save you some time and effort, we've compiled a short list of worthwhile events in Bohemia (where we’re based) Europe and US. Our top tips, entirely subjectively, from us to you.

ARMI & BAGAGLI (no medieval costumes)

March / ITALY

A trade event, for people to shop and meet manufacturers and groups from across Europe.

One of the largest historical market fairs in Europe, with hundreds of stalls from authentic merchants and manufacturers of everything from historical fabrics to hand-wrought swords. There’s also a market for military items and a special area for archers. Entry in historical costume is forbidden.

Entrance fee: About €10

Focus: Prehistoric to WWII

Location: Piacenza Expo, Piacenza, Italy

Web: https://www.armiebagagli.org/it/

GULF WARS (no strict rules for medieval costumes)

March / USA

People come to this weeklong event with the slogan "A war with no enemies" mostly just to have a good time. There are tons of interesting activities, ample space for medieval camping and a large market. If you're travelling from a distance to visit Gulf Wars, leave some time for a side trip to New Orleans, definitely worth it.

One of the major historical festivals held in the United States. Though it’s smaller than Pennsic War (in August), Gulf Wars is still an event of jawdropping proportions. It takes place under the auspices of Society for Creative Anachronism and, much like at Pennsic, nobody worries too much about the absolute authenticity of the historical costumes. The atmosphere is open and friendly and there’s something for everyone. There are daily battles, workshops, lectures, balls, parties, and even a medieval school with workshops for kids, so parents can go their own way. There is a huge market, where you can pick up anything from historical fabric for costumes to handmade period jewelry. The higher entry fee makes up for itself in the many activities that are included free of charge. Facilities on site include showers. Make note, the event takes place in a dry county, so you'll have to bring your own booze if you plan to imbibe. Advance registration is required. We recommend contacting someone ahead of time (through the Facebook group for example). Everyone’s quite helpful.

Entrance fee for performers and spectators: About $150

Focus: Romans to Renaissance

Location: Lumberton, Mississippi, USA

Web: https://www.gulfwars.org/

BATTLE OF SUDOMER (medium level medieval costumes)

March / CZECH REPUBLIC

This agreeable event takes place on the site of a real battlefield and makes a great start to the season.

Battle and laid-back medieval campout (parking, toilets, water, firewood, hay). Performers must be in historical costume and must register. (See costume rules, in Czech.)

Focus: Hussite Wars

Location: Sudomer u Pisku, Czech Republic

Web: http://bitvausudomere.cz/

MARCHÉ DE L´HISTOIRE DE COMPIEGNE (no medieval costumes)

April / FRANCE

A great event for buying and selling. If you’re looking for a hard-to-find item, or you just want to see how they do it elsewhere, then this is the event for you.

One of the largest historical markets in Europe, with 300 stalls of merchants and manufacturers. The event draws craftsmen and groups from across Europe. Period costumes are not recommended for this event.

Entrance fee for participants: €7.50

Focus: Prehistoric to WWII

Location: Le Tigre, Margny-les-Compiegne, France

Web: http://www.histoire-vivante.org/evenement/marche-de-lhistoire-compiegne-60-avril-2020

BATTLE OF HORICE 1423 (medium level medieval costumes)

April / CZECH REPUBLIC

A relative newcomer, but a promising event on an authentic battlefield.

This is the second year for this reenactment of one of the biggest battles of the Hussite wars. It takes place on the authentic battlefield. Registration is required and participants must be in medieval costume. (See costume rules, in Czech.)

Admission for spectators: Voluntary

Focus: Hussite Wars

Location: Horice, Jicin, Czech Republic

Web: https://www.sermiri.cz/akce/bitva-u-horic-1423---korouhev-zradcu/11366

BITVA LIBUSIN (medium level medieval costumes)

April / CZECH REPUBLIC

This is a classic event for the Czech reenactment community. It's also a great place for newcomers to go get a feel for an event of this type.

The largest historical reenactment event in Bohemia, spanning a range of historical periods. You can look forward to seeing the largest regularly staged battle reconstruction in the Czech Republic and an interesting program of side events. The costume rules here are relaxed, but we still recommend sticking to medieval clothing that corresponds to the era you will be portraying. The 2020 event is in the hands of a new organizer, so we'll see how things play out on the ground, but we expect there will be toilets and ample firewood, straw, and water as always.

Entrance fee: 50 CZK (last year)

Focus: 8th to 15th centuries

Location: Libusin u Kladna, Czech Republic

Web: https://www.bitvalibusin.cz/


So much to do and nothing to wear? Worry not! Our selection of historical fabrics is unbeatable – come browse our brocades and authentic historical fabrics and you're sure to find what you need.  For connoisseurs we have wild silk in historically authentic twill and diamond weaves. Stock up on basics like quality linen and woolen broadcloth.

SARTOR BOHEMIA’s selection of brocades for historical costumesSARTOR BOHEMIA’s selection of period textiles done to documentary sources for historical costumesSARTOR BOHEMIA’s selection of silks in lozenge diamond weave for historical costumesSARTOR BOHEMIA’s selection of long staple linen for historical costumesSARTOR BOHEMIA’s selection of wools for historical costumes


 

BATTLE OF KOLIN (no strict rules for medieval costumes)

May / CZECH REPUBLIC

An informal and wholy agreeable event.

No one is going to worry too much over the details of your medieval costuming here. Nice atmosphere. Standard camping conditions: Firewood, potable water, and toilets.


Focus: Hussites, Gothic

Location: Kolin, Czech Republic

Web: https://www.sermiri.cz/akce/bitva-kolin-2020/12007

BATTLE OF LIPANY (high level medieval costumes)

May / CZECH REPUBLIC

You can look forward to a high standard of costuming at this event. Definitely worth a visit.

Authentic battlefield. Facilities include parking, toilets, potable water, firewood, and hay. Period costumes are required (see costume rules, in Czech) and the HA authenticity of medieval dress and equipment is important here. Participants must register.

Focus: Hussite Wars

Location: Lipany u Ceskeho Brodu, Czech Republic

Web: http://www.bitvaulipan.cz/

TRECENTESCA – Morimondo (medium level medieval costumes)

May / ITALY

If you want to experience the battle itself, plan to attend in 2021. And while you're there, take advantage of the opportunity to visit nearby Milan and the beautiful lakes of northern Italy.

An interesting event in northern Italy commemorating the Battle of Casorate in Lombardy in 1356. There are workshops focused on historical crafts, a market, and, in odd-numbered years, a reconstruction of the battle. There is medieval camping – either on a meadow or in the garden of a monastery. This event has been cancelled several times on the past due to inclement weather.

Focus: 14th century

Location: Morimondo, Italy

Web: https://www.abbaziamorimondo.it/attivita/trecentesca

 


 

Every year Sartor Bohemia visits countless historical markets all over the world with our linens, brocades, damasks and other fabrics perfectly suited for historical costumes and accessories. Check out the current list of planned events for 2020. Maybe we'll meet up :-).

 


BATTLE OF TROCNOV (medium level medieval costumes)

June / CZECH REPUBLIC

The first year for this promising event. You can look forward to a battle reconstruction and medieval camping. Costumes are required and must meet set standards for medieval clothing (see costume rules, in Czech). Advance registration is required.

Focus: Hussite Wars

Location: Archeoskanzen Trocnov, Czech Republic

Web: https://www.sermiri.cz/akce/lokace-archeoskanzenu-trocnov/9913

BATTLE OF VITKOV HILL (high level medieval costumes)

July / CZECH REPUBLIC

You can look forward to the battle reenactment, historically accurate costumes, and camping in a park in the heart of Prague!

Commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Vitkov Hill in Prague on the original site. Besides the medieval battle reconstruction there are educational programs and camping with basic facilities such as toilets and potable water. This event is subject to strict costume requirements (see costume rules, in Czech) and participants must register in advance via email registracevitkov@gmail.com. The program is organized by three popular Czech historical societies: Doba Karlova, Civitas Pragensis, and Falconia.

Focus: Prague 1419-1434

Location: Memorial on Vitkov Hill, Prague, Czech Republic

Web: https://www.bellum.cz/bitvy-na-vitkove-a-pod-vysehradem.html

Visitors in medieval costumes

Visitors in period costumes

GRUNWALD 1410 (medium level medieval costumes)

July / POLAND

Definitely worth a visit. Apart from great costumes, you'll also see up to 5,000 fighters in action.

Probably the biggest event when it comes to re-enacting medieval battle in Europe. If you are interested in participating, contact the organizers in advance to agree on terms. This event has facilities such as toilets, showers, firewood, and water, but it pays to have your own supply of drinking water along. There is a fairly strict costume requirement.

Entrance fee: approx. 50 PLN

Focus: 1410

Location: Grunwald, Poland

Web: http://www.grunwald1410.pl/

PENNSIC WAR (no strict rules for medieval costumes)

July-August / USA

This event may not place much emphasis on historical accuracy, but it is definitely an experience worth having and should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The largest historical reenactment event in the United States. More than 10,000 people camp out at this two-week event. As is the case with similar SCA events, nobody worries too much about the exact authenticity of historical costumes and implements. Really, it's impossible not to enjoy yourself. There's something here for everyone. Battles, workshops, lectures, balls, and parties take place daily, and the event is accompanied by a huge market where you can buy everything from handmade pins to historical fabrics for costumes. The whole thing is well organized and has good facilities including a grocery store, showers, washing machines and dryers. As with Gulf Wars, no alcohol can be purchased on site, so you have to bring your own. Advance registration is required. To avoid feeling lost from the start, try getting in touch with someone ahead of time (try the Facebook group). Everyone is very helpful.

Entrance fee for participants and spectators: About $150

Focus: Romans to Renaissance

Location: Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, USA

Web: http://www.pennsicwar.org/

WISBY (medium level medieval costumes)

August 2022 / SWEDEN

One of the largest reenactments in Europe, with a fantastic program. It is a bit pricey, like all things Scandinavian, but this is one you’ll want to come back to again.

A spectacular event in Sweden that takes place every three years. It’s so popular that the ferries to Sweden at this time are packed to the gills – so get your tickets in spring. The event takes place along the ramparts and in the historical town. In addition to the two main battles there is an interesting program of events (the museum is worth a visit too). As you would expect, there is a medieval camp and market.

Focus: 14th century

Location: Visby, Sweden

Web: https://www.medeltidsveckan.se/battle-of-wisby

REPLICON (no medieval costumes)

November / CZECH REPUBLIC

A good place to come learn something new and get to know the major historical societies in the Czech Republic.

Indoor reenactment and cosplay fantasy fair with a market. There are fascinating lectures, courses, and workshops.

Entrance fee: 150 CZK, additional fee for seminars

Focus: Unlimited (but mostly 9th to 17th centuries)

Location: Modra Skola, Prague, Czech Republic

Web: http://replicon.cz/

 


So much to do and nothing to wear? Worry not! Our selection of historical fabrics is unbeatable – come browse our brocades and authentic historical fabrics and you're sure to find what you need.  For connoisseurs we have wild silk in historically authentic twill and diamond weaves. Stock up on basics like quality linen and woolen broadcloth.

SARTOR BOHEMIA’s selection of brocades for historical costumesSARTOR BOHEMIA’s selection of period textiles done to documentary sources for historical costumes SARTOR BOHEMIA’s selection of silks in lozenge diamond weave for historical costumesSARTOR BOHEMIA’s selection of long staple linen for historical costumesSARTOR BOHEMIA’s selection of wools for historical costumes