I’m always on the lookout for something ‘different’ to do when family come down to visit, so when an invite to review England’s Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux Castle dropped into my inbox, it looked like the perfect thing to take my dad to over the recent bank holiday weekend.
So what is England’s Medieval Festival?
England’s Medieval Festival takes place over the August bank holiday weekend at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, which is about an hour and a half from London or 45 minutes from Brighton. It claims to be the best medieval festival in England – a bold statement when it takes place not so far from the famous Loxwood Joust in West Sussex, which attracts a similar mix of families and older people. I loved the Loxwood Joust when I went last summer so was eager to see how the two events compared.
What can you see and do at the festival?
There’s a lot going on, from mock battles to archery, parades to kids’ activities and much more. My tip would be to download the schedule from the website before you arrive, as a programme will set you back £4.
The festival takes place in the beautiful grounds of Herstmonceux Castle, which I’d never visited before – it’s gorgeous and I’d highly recommend a visit which is just £6 on a non-festival day.
When we arrived it was lunchtime so we headed to one of several taverns on site. Beers, soft drinks and coffee were on offer along with fresh sweet and savoury crepes (very tasty) and a hog roast. Elsewhere on site you’ll find many other options including vegan food and for the medieval theme, honey mead. Prices were reasonable or at least similar to other festivals – my crepe with two fillings was £7.
We stopped to watch the ‘Grand Parade’ which was lead by this giant papier mache figure and a band of wandering minstrels and drummers – good fun for kids. We then wandered through the kids village – I can’t say much about this as I don’t have any but it looked fun! In one of the gardens archers were practising their art and there were even coracles (small round boats for one person) on the water of the nearby castle moat.
As we arrived on the main battle field it turned out we were just in time for the main event. Around 50 reenactors in full armour took to the field to defend their honour, with real cannon fire! Although this is not on the scale of the battles at the Loxwood Joust, it’s still impressive to see.
We couldn’t stay for the jousting which took place later in the main arena, which is also home to a craft tent and some more food options. All in all we spent about 3 hours at the festival, but if you signed up for some of the kids’ activities you could easily spend a whole day there.
Would also like to give a thank you to the staff – my dad’s electric mobility scooter broke down as he tried to go back up the hill to the car park and they kindly picked him up in one of their golf carts!
How much does it cost?
Adult day tickets are £20, which includes entry to the castle grounds and gardens. Child tickets cost £10 and it’s free for under 5s. There is also a weekend camping option which seems popular with families with younger children, with extra events in the evenings including film screenings, banquets and more. Disclaimer: I was invited to review the festival in return for complimentary tickets, but all views are my own.