Häme Medieval Festival in Hämenlinna. Thoughts and first impression

Häme Medieval Festival in Hämenlinna, Finland

I wanted to attend Häme Medieval Festival for two years now. I was obsessed with the idea after I visited Medieval market in Turku back in 2017. It was my first Medieval experience and I loved it! And I am so happy that I finally got a chance to join the Middle Ages fans just like myself in Häme this year.

Hämenlinna is located in the heart of the historical province of Häme, which is about 100 km from Helsinki.

At first we were thinking to come there by car. But we quickly realized that public transport will be the wisest and easiest choice. That way we wouldn’t need to worry about the parking place or limits of alcohol consumption.

It is possible to get to Hämenlinna either by train or by bus. Both choices are reasonably cheap, especially if you order tickets in advance. Ours did cost 6.20 euros one way per person, so altogether we paid 24.80 euros, and that is pretty cheap by Finnish standards.

I should also mention that there is an entrance fee, which in my opinion is a good thing and a bad at the same time. If I’m not mistaken it is a bit cheaper to order tickets online than at the gate, so keep it in mind if you decide to come here one day. It’s not very cheap (adult ticket costs 15 euros*), but I think it is worth every penny!

* this price also includes museum fees (Häme castle and Prison museum)

The first thing I noticed when I entered the Festival area was the size of it all. It was huge! Now I see why Häme event is the biggest Medieval fair in Finland. There were tournament arenas, taverna, food carts, dozens of shopping tents with lots of handmade goods (wooden toys, archery equipment, home décor made of iron, knitted accessories, clothes, crochet, silver jewelry with gemstones and many other things).

They even had separate camps for knights, Vikings and blacksmiths. Very impressive!

And I have never seen so many people dressed in the medieval gowns! I saw friar Tuck, older and fuller version of Robin Hood, as well as the Sheriff of Nottingham. There were also witches and fortune-tellers, a joyful knight that was eating caramel apple on a stick, few noble ladies covered with real furs (may I remind you that this event is happening in August!). And some were dressed as characters of some Medieval Ages themed video games; unfortunately, I am not familiar with those.

Fortune-tellers were offering their services for 10, 20 and 30 euros. I guess, more you pay better fortune you are going to have.

It felt like I have actually traveled through time and jumped 700-800 years back. But that feeling changed as soon as I saw one castle-guard checking his phone for messages (witchery!). Magic was partly gone, and time travel turned into a movie set visit.

I was looking around excitedly as I was walking through the blacksmith’s camp. Some blacksmiths were working, creating something beautiful and unique. Some were selling handcrafted home décor. Some were lazily napping in the shadow under the tree. One man was sitting on a wooden stool in his tent, he was fixing knight’s hauberk. That is definitely something what you don’t see every day.

I even saw the real Vikings! They looked exactly like the actors from the popular TV show. They were big and muscly. And a bit scary with their axes and knives attached to the belts. They were sitting on the logs, next to the steaming cauldron and drinking beverages from the drinking horns. And the dark liquid was dripping down their long wavy beards. I was astonished and enchanted by this scene. I wanted to come closer, say hello and take a photo of them… but I wouldn’t dare.

Everything around me looked so similar to the things I’ve seen in the movies and TV series. It looked so real! Well, minus the blood, dead bodies and violence. There was also other huge difference between real Medieval times and this festival. You might think it’s the technology of the 21st century. But no. Biggest difference was the fact that the nobles had to stand in the same queues and eat at the same table as the common folk.

Food and prices

There were few huts where you could buy some snacks, like reindeer or wild boar sausages, cheeses, including my favourite, cold-smoked cheese, candies, lettu (Finnish pancakes; they are bigger and much thinner comparing to American ones) and donuts with different fillings.

There were also tents that were selling proper food. Typical Finnish food to be exact, like fried muikku (vendace) with potatoes, pyttipannu (a mix of diced potatoes, onions and sausages cooked in a frying pan). And of course, no Medieval event is complete without a whole roasted pig. Yummy! Just a thought of it makes my mouth water.

Locals were selling it for 10 euros per portion. Pricey! And it wasn’t even that big, it looked more like a snack than an actual food that could fill your stomach. Luckily, we found a better offer in the main eating area, in the German stand. They had a roasted suckling pig for 7.50 or 8.00 euros if you wished to have sauerkraut with it. Bratwurst cost 3.50, 4.00 with a bun and 4.50 with the sauerkraut.

We took suckling pig, one portion for two.

And we got the beer from the Dead man’s Tavern. Perfect lunch!

A guy sitting next to me, a mighty Viking, was completely in his character. He even brought his own medieval looking fork and knife. Custom made I may add!

And there we were, having extremely delicious meal, drinking cold Czech beer and enjoying the live music. It couldn’t get any better!

Oh, and one band in particular has caught my eye. Or should I say ear? The name is Teufelstanz. If you are into folk music, then you should definitely check their YouTube channel, these guys are awesome!

What an amazing day I had! So much joy and excitement. It felt great being part of that world. Although seeing all these incredible people wearing costumes made me feel a bit underdressed. So, maybe next time I will wear something special. I could dress as Morgan le Fay. Or better yet as Lagertha! I guess, we’ll have to wait and see.

* for more information visit keskiaikafestivaali.fi

Hope you enjoyed it!

TWVera

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