The biggest fortress in Europe opens its gates for a colossal festival of medieval culture on the weekend of May 19th and 20th. The festival has gained a reputation for being the major tourist attraction in the Champagne-Ardenne region and promises, now in its 17th year, to feel even more like an authentic time journey to the middle ages.
The fortified castle in Sedan, a town in the North of France, will host a big medieval fair with over 100 exhibitors, who will sell medieval products and clothing and 20 craftsmen will show how to bind books, make glass and press coins in workshops inside the ancient walls.
Hungry visitors can experience medieval feasts and traditional banquets in one of the taverns around the grounds of the festival and burn some calories with a walk through a medieval battle camp. If you ever wondered how those medieval princesses got married, you can even attend a medieval wedding listen to some medieval love ballads.
Make sure that you don’t miss out on the festive procession on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. It will feature medieval music, dance performances, knights in full armour and traditionally dressed monks. Other highlights include cavalry tournaments, crossbow demonstrations, sword duels and if you (or your kids) are brave enough – torch lit night tours of the castle. If you should hurt yourself while trying any medieval combat techniques you can even get a medical herb treatment from the middle ages (depending on the severity of your injuries, you might still want to visit a modern doctor afterwards).
To complete the medieval atmosphere you can witness falconry with the backdrop of the towering fortress or enjoy some medieval entertainment in form of a street theatre performance. Don’t forget to take home a photo of yourself dressed as a medieval maid or monk (or as a more elegant character, if you prefer) as a souvenir.
The festival will run Saturday 10.30am to 10pm and Sunday 10am to 7pm, and the admission won’t break the bank at €5 per person if you buy in advance. For under 12-year-olds, the admission is free. For more information check out the festival’s website.
You can take a P&O Ferry to Calais and drive to Sedan in 4 hours. But if you have a little bit more time, you could stop over in Lille to check out the famous Citadel and have a look at the impressive gothic Cathedral in Amiens (total driving time 5 hours 45 minutes)