Last weekend we made a trip to Hämeenlinna, a Finnish inland town with a medieval castle, and medieval fair. The fair has been on my mind since last spring, and even if many of my summer travel plans haven’t worked out, the Häme Medieval Fair was something I really wanted to stick with.
The funny thing is, many medieval events are organized in Finland over the summer. There are many medieval towns with castles, medieval restaurants, dinner events and shows… and yet I have experienced my only medieval event in London at the age of 15 when we dined at a medieval restaurant during our three-week language course in England.
That said, on Saturday the 22nd of August I had a curious peek into the Middle Ages with Daniel.
I couldn’t think of a better spot for this kind of event, thanks to the castle raising up in the middle of the park where the fair was held. Vanajavesi lake and the medieval camp built on the beach side completed the authenticity of the event.
Besides the castle, there are also two different museums at the area, and you got to visit all of them with the same ticket. The best thing was, no matter how rainy this summer has been in Finland, this weekend the sun was shining from the cloudless sky. Just like we ordered.
The castle park was filled with Irish music, or at least that’s how it sounded to me. Along the paths the musicians, artist and magicians were showing their skills. Kids and also adults were running around the park playing with their swords and axes, and people dressed up in medieval clothes were toasting with their jugs in the beer gardens. There was a gentle tarry smell in the air, and I could hear a joyful rattle coming out from the blacksmith’s tent.
Even the food served at the fair was from ‘the olden times’. Wide ranges of snacks, salty and sweet were served, often cooked on an open fire. I loved to follow how even the older bearded men got a childish sparkle in their eyes when grabbing a toffee apple covered with hot and golden toffee leaking from the top of the treat.
The top food related attraction was the skewered pork. The ones who weren’t queuing for a dish stopped to wonder and take pictures of this poor little piggy. Also we enjoyed a medieval lunch, but instead of this one, we had beer braised pork. Unfortunately I haven’t got a picture of the dish to show you but I can guarantee it was absolutely delicious.
I could have wandered along the paths of the castle park for ages, just to follow people who seemed to be the happiest in an event where everyone can come as they are. No one gives a bad look at a man wearing a kilt, carrying a shield with one hand and a crossbow with another.
The market stands had spread over the whole area offering a wide range of weapons, both real and fake ones, rings and other jewelry, bags, clothes, decorations, handcraft…
Daniel was trying to find himself a flail, but none of the weapon sellers had any. My childish travel companion would have been happy even with a plastic one, but perhaps all flails had been sold out already during the first day. We stepped in the Middle Ages on the day two of this three-day event.
The real Middle Age enthusiasts built their tents in the medieval camp on the lake side for the whole weekend. The camp was an interesting addition to the fair. Every once in a while the camp was a bit quiet, but the athmospehre was really authentic. The cooking might have looked weird, but smelled delicious. People at the camp were showing their skills on handcraft, fencing and archery.
Of course I had to try myself how the medieval weapons would fit into my hands. I was fully enjoying my very first medieval fair; having sun on a throne, toasting a jug of beer and trying out the most fancy rings I was able to find.
Have you ever visited one?