Getting seriously medieval on the grass

If it’s the twang of a longbow, the resounding clashes of swords against shields or the metallic clanking of armour and chainmail that make you yearn for the chivalrous days of lore, then you’ll no doubt have already purchased your tickets to the hugely popular Copenhagen Medieval Fair: four anachronistic and fantastic days of living history in Valbyparken over the Whitsun weekend.  

The highly popular Medieval Fair will once again transport an expected 2,000 guests and 900 active participants back in time to the days when knights bearing lances battled each other on horseback to settle an argument. It’s a voyage to the days when crossbows were crucial, broadswords were brandished, and damsels in distress were rescued by, who else, but the knight in shining armour. Visitors will have a chance to release their inner knights and swing a sword or two, and perhaps try on a suit of armour for size.

The annual Battle of the Nations competition is where teams of three and individuals will go head-to-head against each other to win the opportunity to represent Denmark in international tournaments. There are strict rules to ensure the historical authenticity of both the armour and weaponry. This is a daily event at 11:00 and 15:30, with the finals taking place on Monday. Although Denmark did not win any battle prizes in the unofficial 2012 world championships in Poland, they deservedly won the prize for the most authentic camp.  

The spectacular re-enactment of battles gone by is always a crowd-puller in the battleground area. This year it is the turn of the bloodthirsty Vikings to rampage through the battlefield and recreate the pitched battles of yesteryear. These colourful and cacophonous re-enactments with horses, banners and marching armies take place twice a day, and each day closes with armour-clad performances from Scaramax, the oldest medieval society in Denmark.

What would a  medieval fair be without a touch of good old-fashioned jousting? At 11:30 and 16:00 (10:30 and 15:30 on Friday) jousting tournaments will be the main attraction in the tournament area, and hopefully the black knight will be brought crashing to earth with a bump. Some accomplished Finnish jousters, Rohan Tallit, will be displaying ancient skills of horsemanship and showing off their prowess with swords, bows and lances.

After a hard day’s rampaging and jousting, your average knight craves a bit of light-hearted entertainment in the circus area. This year the Familia Fabula will be bringing history to life through storytelling and a puppet show. If fire is your thing, then don’t miss Isabella, the fire princess who guarantees to bring a breath of fresh fire to the proceedings. Four times a day, the potion-brewing alchemist will add a dash of mystery and magic.

There is an extremely keen interest in all things Viking and medieval in Denmark, and devotees of the many passionate and enthusiastic groups are well-represented at the fair. The Scramasax group will have their own encampment and will be giving hands-on demonstrations of archery, cooking and handicrafts, as well as giving performances. Eventyrridderne mostly cater to the younger guests: their artists will transform your kids into goblins or paint on some hideously realistic war wounds, while the performers will be sweating inside monster costumes or disguised as witches. The group will also organise activities for kids that include hammer-throwing, role-playing and, of course, bow-and-arrow target practice. The Italian group Storicco Fivizzano are dropping by this year and will be giving spectacular demonstrations of flag throwing and drumming

The market area has a variety of stands to visit where the bleeping technology of the 2000s will be thankfully lacking. Weapons, masks, jewellery, sheepskins, clothing and musical instruments are among the medieval wares on offer. Woodworker Jens Perleberg creates exquisite chests and wooden artefacts in the traditional way. Den Sorte Ridder meticulously stitch together historical costumes, while the middle age group Laudator Temporis Acti have an impressive display of authentically-crafted helmets and sharp bladed axes. Runesmith from the UK has lovingly crafted copper and pewter brooches and bracelets on offer. If you fancy a tattoo, then head for the Skin and Bone tent. It goes without saying that there will be food, drinks and tasty titbits available, so you won’t go hungry or thirsty.

So, if you are looking for a Whitsun day out, perhaps you should make a knight of it and take a trip back in time to the Copenhagen medieval market for four days of family fun and role-playing.

Copenhagen Medieval Market
Valbyparken, Cph SV; starts Fri, ends Mon, open Fri 09:00-18:00, Sat & Sun 10:00-18:00, Mon 10:00-17:00; tickets: over-12s: 90kr, under-12s: 60kr, under-3s: free adm,;

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