REVIEW: The Abbey Medieval Festival Caboolture 2019
The Abbey Medieval Festival in Brisbane 2019
Time Travel is real!!!
It’s true! Every year when the planets align a certain way, a time portal opens up on Abbey Place, Caboolture, allowing you to slip back hundreds of years to the Middle Ages. Stepping through the portal the air rings with clashing of swords, the ground shudders to the thundering of hooves, and crowds cheer the clang of lance upon shields while maidens dance to the tunes played on pipes and drums, and you’re invited to experience all the sounds, sights and smells of this magical medieval era for yourselves.
It’s been that way since 1989 when the Moreton Bay Region hosted its first ever Abbey Medieval Festival. Don’t worry, slipping through the time portal is entirely reversible – and you’ll still have a phone signal and access to flushing toilets – but for two whole days you can immerse yourself in another world entirely.
The Abbey Medieval Festival is an annual highlight, with the highly anticipated Tournament Weekend happening this year on the 13th and 14th of July 2019. It attracts over 1000 world-class Medieval re-enactors keen to give you a taste of what life in the Middle Ages was like. It is one of Australia’s premier living history events, providing Festival-goers with an engaging and immersive experience of the Middle Ages.
When was the medieval period?
The medieval period covers a time from around 600-1600CE, from the fall of the Roman Empire through to the beginning of the enlightened Renaissance Period. That’s a lot of years! Medieval literally means Middle Ages. Wikipedia does justice to this period here.
What was the medieval period like?
For peasants, the medieval period was a simple time of hard work on the land farming for their lords and living in simple huts, often with their farm animals to provide warmth. Their diet would have comprised of a lot of gruels, stews and porridges with a bit of salt-meat through the winter.
Some people were skilled craftsmen and artisans and enjoyed a slightly higher status. They would have been blacksmiths, tailors and shoemakers, basket weavers, saddlers, coopers (barrel makers), wainwrights (wagon builders), carpenters and builders, amongst many other trades.
If you were wealthy or a landowner, you might have lived in a manor house or castle and had servants of your own. You would have enjoyed lots of fancy roast meats, tasty pastries, and delicious banquets, with entertainment provided by travelling musicians, storytellers, actors and jesters.
The medieval period was also a time of brave knights and fair maidens, fabled dragon-slayers, jousting and battles, castle building, and marauding Vikings! It wasn’t all hard work in the Middle Ages; people enjoyed many public holidays and festivals based around the religious calendar and traditional pagan celebrations, and the Abbey Medieval Festival perfectly recreates the atmosphere of these fun occasions.
Abbey Medieval Festival – 30th year!
2019 is the year of the 30th Abbey Medieval Festival. Tickets are on sale now for the Festival’s calendar of events, including the Medieval Banquets, Kids Medieval Family Fun Week and the Tournament weekend.
Abbey Medieval Banquets
The Abbey Medieval Banquets are a truly immersive experience for die-hard medieval fans, food buffs and anyone looking for an evening of food and entertainment that is totally out of the ordinary.
Hosted at St Michael’s College, guests are treated to an authentic medieval banquet where all the fine details are considered – right down to the ‘plate’ being a bread trencher! The hall is set with rows of long tables lit by candles, and criss-crossed with banners and pennants strung from wall to wall. Music and entertainment is provided just as it would have been hundreds of years ago, and whilst attending in costume is not compulsory, it is strongly encouraged to get you into the spirit of the event.
As for the menu, well you have to see it to believe it – we did say it’s a banquet! The dates for the 2019 Abbey Medieval Banquets are Saturday June 29 and Saturday July 6. Click here for more information and to book tickets.
Kids Dig It! Medieval Family Fun Week
Kids will love the program of fun educational activities and workshops at the Kids Dig It! Medieval Family Fun Week. From 10am to 3pm children are invited to participate in Master Classes, archaeological digs, skills training (for future medieval careers!), archery and games.
The Kids Dig It! Medieval Family Fun Week runs from Monday July 1 to Friday July 5, 2019, and is a fantastic day (or five!) out in the winter school holidays. Click here for more information.
The Abbey Medieval Festival Tournament Weekend
The Tournament Weekend is the highlight of the Abbey Medieval Festival program – an amazing weekend that you need to see to believe!
What will we see at the Medieval Tournament Weekend?
The Abbey Medieval Festival is an authentic medieval experience, with over 1000 enthusiastic re-enactors bringing the Dark Ages, Middle Ages and early Renaissance Period to life. You will see many medieval villages and encampments recreating the life of ordinary peasants, Vikings, Ottoman Empire Turks, campaigning knights and travelling entertainers. There will also be craftsmen and women demonstrating their skills, historical re-enactments and competitions, and so many things you can experience for yourselves.
Here’s a rundown of some of the things to expect:
Everyone loves the jousting! See the brave knights on horseback thundering towards each other as they use their lance to try to knock their opponent out of their saddle.
Trained re-enactors will demonstrate the skills and training required to wield a sword and other weapons in battle.
From the heavy horses used to pull wagons and carry knights into battle, to the smaller and lighter ladies horses, demonstrations of hunting and herding animals like dogs and falcons, farm animals reared for food and pelts, and even the humble bumble bee, which was so important to farmers and for the production of honey and mead.
So many re-enactments! Professional re-enactors will show you how to lay siege to a castle as well as demonstrations of what life was like in the different camps.
Food & Drinks
Taste the Middle Ages with traditional food and drinks on offer, including medieval hog roast, banquets (bookings required), and food stalls selling traditional medieval flavours. If you like your food a little more modern, don’t worry, you’ll be catered for too!
Everything from troupes of belly dancers and gypsy dancers, to roving jugglers, jesters, puppeteers, storytellers, and actors – there’ll be plenty of people willing to entertain your kids!
As well as standard ‘aiming-for-the-target archery’, there is also the highly skilled horseback archery and moving target archery. You can even have a go at firing an arrow yourself.
Battles and Wrestling
See knights battle for the honour of a maiden, or to drive out invading Vikings, and traditional Turkish oil wrestling.
There are lots of stalls to browse for souvenirs and reproduction medieval goods. You’ll find everything from toys and costumes, to sweets, pottery, stained glass, woven goods, leatherwork, jewellery, imitation armoury and weapons, carvings, artwork and a whole lot more. There are around 60 authentic stalls to visit!
Don’t miss the Grand Parade at 9:30am each day. It’s your opportunity to see ALL the knights, warriors and ladies before the day’s activities commence.
Enjoy the historical sounds of the Dark Ages through to the Higher Middle Ages, with Gregorian chants, harpists, lute players, pipes, drums and singers as the musical entertainers stroll through the camps and put on shows.
Lots of them, and not just the re-enactors! The Abbey Medieval Festival is the premiere event of its kind in Australia. Re-enactors and participants have beautifully crafted costumes from the medieval period and Dark Ages so you can expect to see peasants in their rough garb, princesses in finely woven silks, knights in full chainmail and plate mail, monks, nuns and Templars in their religious habits, Turks from the time of the Crusades, and characters from traditional medieval festivals relating to the seasons and nature.
Visitors are also encouraged to join in with competitions and prizes for the best fancy dress. Dressing up isn’t compulsory, and you’ll see plenty of visitors in their modern fashions, but if you want to add that extra element of fun to your day there’s no finer excuse to put on your best medieval costume!
How Do We Get To The Abbey Medieval Festival?
The Abbey Medieval Festival is held at the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, 1-63 The Abbey Place (off Toorbul Point Road), Caboolture.
There is limited free parking on site, but members of the local fire brigade will be on hand to direct you to other abundant nearby parking spots (a gold-coin donation to the fire brigade is welcome!). You can also get there by free bus from the Caboolture Train Station. The festival itself takes over the expansive space around the Abbey Museum.
However you travel to The Abbey Medieval Festival, we recommend you plan ahead and aim to get there early.
How Do We Get Tickets To The Abbey Medieval Festival?
Early bird tickets are available until the end of April, but if you’ve missed out on those you can still save by buying tickets online. They’re slightly cheaper if you buy ahead (this year up until July 11), but tickets are also available at the gate.
You can buy individual or family tickets for one day or for the whole tournament weekend. The cost of a weekend ticket is only slightly higher than a one-day ticket, and we guarantee that if you go on Saturday you’ll want to go back for more on Sunday!
What Else Should We Know About The Abbey Medieval Festival?
There are some restrictions as to what you can and can’t take with you:
- No dogs or other animals. Please leave your pets at home. There will be lots of animals to see at the festival, and your own pet would be happier and safer at home.
- Weapons. If you plan on enhancing your costume with your own sword, bow and arrows, knife, or other medieval weapon, organisers request that you complete a form online to gain permission to bring your weapon with you. If you don’t have prior permission you won’t be allowed to bring your weapon onsite. Weapons that are clearly toys and part of a child’s costume, such as a blunt wooden sword or plastic, are ok.
- You’re welcome to bring your own food and picnics (please be mindful of littering), and camp chairs and picnic blankets are welcome too.
- Alcohol is available to buy on site (traditional beers, meads, cider and wines), but BYO is not permitted.
Other things to be aware of:
- Access to the jousting is on a first-come-first-served basis. There are four jousting competitions on Saturday and three on Sunday, but access is limited to 2000 persons per competition. You can collect a pass to the event of your choice and once all 2000 passes are handed out for that event it will be closed for safety reasons.
- ATMs are available, and – just like in medieval times – cash is king! Wi-fi is limited at the Abbey Medieval Festival so Eftpos machines, though available, often don’t work. Cash is recommended.
- Toilets, baby change facilities, and First Aid facilities are available.
- Most of the Abbey Medieval Festival is accessible to wheelchair users and prams. Paths are mainly gravel or grass and relatively flat. There is also a drop-off point for the elderly and disabled about 70m from the entrance.