England’s Medieval Festival has a reputation as being one of the largest themed festivals in the UK. For years the event has taken place at Herstmonceaux Castle which we reviewed back in 2017. But this year saw the start of a new chapter for the festival in its new home, The Kings Grove at Pippingford Park near Nutley. I’m not particularly clued about medieval history but I loved our previous experience of the Med Fest, so I was really looking forward to getting stuck in to some more historical antics for 2023. Huzzah!
The festival usually runs for three days over the August Bank Holiday weekend. This year the event took place between Friday 25th and Monday 28th August. Highlights included live jousting, archery tournaments, artillery displays, puppet shows, live music, medieval re-enactments… the list goes on. There really is a lot to do, but for me one of the things that makes this festival so unique is the atmosphere. Nearly everyone who attends get dressed up and into character. The vibe is happy, verging on jubilant!
Throughout each day there’s a jam packed schedule of shows taking place in the main arena. We were lucky enough to watch the first jousting show of the weekend which was incredible. The jousting is performed by a professional horse stunt team from Germany who dazzled us with their acrobatics, sword fighting and fire tricks. The show lasted nearly an hour and we were on the edge of our seats the whole time.
Another highlight was the parents v.s children battle that took place in the afternoon. Willing participants were provided with helmets, armour (family friendly versions obvs) and hyped up to a ridiculous level before being left to fight battle. Utter chaos ensued. Brilliant, hilarious chaos. We loved every minute. We missed a number of performances that we’ll make sure we see next time including The Watermill Wolves (real wolves!) and the evening torchlit procession. We just couldn’t fit it all in this time.
The best way to learn about history is, of course to get stuck in and experience it for yourself. The Medieval Festival offers this in bucket loads. My son joined Knight School and tried archery, catapulting, axe throwing.. he even took part in a battle! Some of these activities are an extra cost but are worth the small fee. In addition there’s a plethora of performers dotted about the site telling stories of witchcraft, showing off their juggling skills and playing enchanting music, setting the scene for days gone by.
Evenings & Camping
The Medieval Festival offers weekend tickets with an after hours itinerary just for campers. Evening activities include torchlight processions, outdoor cinema shows and lives music each night in the Buxom Wench. We were lucky enough to visit on the Sunday evening when we watched Disney’s Brave under the stars snuggled under a blanket before seeing the evening out jigging to the Noble Jacks in the beer tent. We’d definitely make the effort to camp next year as the evening are much quieter but with an incredible Medieval party vibe.
England’s Medieval Festival is everything fun and wholesome you might want from a themed weekend. There aren’t many places that I’ve felt so immersed in history and thanks to the enthusiasm of the actors and visitors who really get into character. We’d love to return to this unique and special event. If you fancy trying it out for yourself tickets for 2024 are on sale now.