There is very little in life that thrills me more than things Medieval, therefore it made me downright ecstatic to find that there was a nice little Renaissance Festival (RenFest) right here in Skane. I began plotting to attend this Riddarspelen immediately upon learning of it. Lars immediately began thinking up excuses not to go. We went. HA!
There is an awesome little community south of Malmo and inland a little bit called Jakriborg, right outside of Hjarup. Jakriborg is made up of old-style Scandinavian buildings. It costs a pretty penny to live there. One weekend each year this way-cool place is transformed into the 14th century. 1360, to be exact. It was the time when Denmark had no king, and during the time of the Sverige/Danmark wars which resulted in Skane (South Sweden) becoming part of Sweden. Technically, Skane had just come under the Swedish King’s rule 2 years prior, but this RenFest plays as if it were still part of Denmark.
The King they choose to put in charge of Skane for the purposes of having a story for the games is Valdemar IV, who really was king during this time period. Look, it was all very complicated back then, alright? They had a king, but they didn’t. Just trust me on this. Anyway, Valdemar has called 4 knights each from the East and the West to battle it out on the Jousting field.
What transpires is one of the best Knight Games I’ve ever attended. The folks of Riddarspelen really did their homework and you can tell they have done this together a lot. Most RenFests have jesters riling the crowd and the Ring Piercing games prior to the joust, but this one also added a fair bit of archery competition, the Ribbon Grab, the 5-ring pierce, and another game I hadn’t seen involving piercing a disc on the ground with one’s lance while at full gallop. Just excellent all across the board.
Another thing I particularly liked about this one was that each of the 8 knights grabbed a gal from the audience prior to the games. These maidens were be-cloaked in the colors of the knights and brought to sit with the King to watch the games. At the end, the champion of the games then grabbed his little chickie and tossed her up on his horse for a ride around the ring. Very nice touch, that.
The jousting itself was not bad either. I’ve seen it where it was so obviously fake and choreographed as to be no fun at all, and I’ve seen it where lances shattered against opponent’s shields. Both ends of the spectrum. These riders used hard rubber lances rather than wood, but they did ride full-tilt. A few times jabs seemed to be pulled, but for the most part it was a good game. I’d put their joust in the top 3 I’ve attended.
As far as vendors, while there were quite a few here, they were not as plentiful as most RenFests in the US. The trade-off is that the prices at the vendors here were more than fair, bordering on downright great deals. I saw swords here that would go for $200 and up at US Faires marked at the equivalent of about $50-75. I couldn’t believe it. There was this fabulous black Greatshirt that was to die for and built to fit Lars for a mere 375sek (under $50) and I could just spit because he didn’t buy it. Men!
I did come away with some Sterling Silver battleaxe earrings to match the pendant I had picked up the previous day at Foteviken, for 150sek… but I really, really shoulda bought that wonderful black chemise for 680sek. Really, that was priced a tad high, which is why I gave it a pass, but that was unusual pricing for this place. I’m betting had I had more time I could have bargained her down… but the male had to get back home to catch the England World Cup game that night. ARGH!
As far as food goes, this one had plenty to eat. They had a deal where if you were member of Coop Forum (which we are) then you could get in and get a meal for only 150sek per person. The usual admission alone is 195sek pp so that was way cool. They fed us butterflied ham on the bone and outstanding potato salad. Other food tents had hot dogs and Thai food and what have you… no big ol’ turkey legs or peasant bread to be found though, and a serious dearth of Meade. I’ll change ’em… give me time. HA! There are several restaurants in the town square right there though in which you can get beer.
One thing of note is that in the US, you must peace-tie your weapon if you come in garb. Here that is not required… and you can smoke in the stands watching the games.
Since the audience for this review will be mostly American, I feel inclined to add a warning. If you are the uptight and prudish sort, you may want to take a pass. Folks are not that way over here at all, and several of the jester gags involved dropped trousers and the like. I loved every last minute of it, but you may find yourself gasping if you are unable to find the humor in such things. Look here, the Middle Ages were just like that, ok? And folks in this area of the world are still like that. Which is to say, open and very comfortable with their bodies.
Five extremely high stars for Riddarspelen. If you plan to visit Sweden, do plan your trip in conjunction with this annual June event. It is one hella good time.