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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Historical Festivals -- Next Best Thing to Time Travel


Mini-Eliza #1 with a Lady of the Court
I must offer you my most humble apologies for not posting in months...  Earlier this year I delved into writing historical fiction, and my main characters are historic figures.  The amount of research and world building was an immense project, which I've only recently completed.  I am very pleased with the work though, a novel which takes place at the court of Henry VIII.  I will keep you posted about the story.  Currently my agent and my crit partner are reading through it, and I'm hoping for only one more revision before it is sent on submission.

Now onto my post!  How historical festivals are in essence like time travel!

As a writer of historical fiction, historical and time travel romance, I have to breathe life into a time that no longer exists, dress up characters in costumes that are way out of date, have them speak in a way that is no longer common.  Books can only tell you so much.  Movies help sometimes--and other times they are grossly incorrect.  Historical documentaries are a life saver! 

But sometimes, you just want to travel through time.  To enter a world where the people you write about come to life, and you walk and talk amongst them.  And that is where historical festivals come in.

We have a Renaissance Festival that comes to our area for two months out of the year.  They have their own grounds, replete with list fields, merchant houses, ale houses, and all other sorts of entertainments.  Walking minstrels, shouting bards, jongleurs, knights, lords, ladies and even King Henry VIII and a couple of his wives are in attendance...

Mini-Eliza #3 eating a giant turkey leg
For me, it is exhilarating to walk into the festival.  To be called, "My lady," to drink mead, eat a hunk of meat and spend the day watching and observing.  This year, I was tickled beyond pink that I got to go to the festival twice.  My husband loves the festival as well, but we hadn't been in several years because of having little ones.  We still have three little ones, but for some reason this year it was like magic.  They loved it so much!  Had so much fun that when we suggested going again, they were thrilled at the prospect.  It may be that the festival has lots of fun things for kids too which they fully imbibed in:  rock wall climbing, pony rides, elephant rides, a park, a giant slide, but they also enjoyed watching the knights fight in the list, and the lords and ladies walking by.


Mini-Eliza #2 with a Courtier, who was
extremely impressed with how she tore
right into that turkey leg
 But also, perhaps, its that because I live and breathe history, I talk about it a lot at home.  I find children's books on history and read them to my kids.  We go to museums, we watch the history channel together.  Either my children have an appreciation for that time period or they know no other way since I can't stop talking about it.  When we arrived to the festival the first time, there was a large painted portrait, I pointed to it, and to my oldest said, "Oh, wow, do you know who that is?"  I did not expect her to know, seriously.  Her reply "Mom, that's Henry VIII."  My heart lurched with pride that she was able to see him and recognize him from a painting!  I think from that moment on, I knew we'd have a great time.  And although this was two months ago, they are still talking about it.

So in essence, attending the festival is like stepping into a live world of my book (minus the demons and faeries) and for several hours, I could pretend I'd travelled through time.  I haven't yet been to a Celtic Festival or a Highland Games.  There is a Celtic Festival coming to my area in April next year, which I fully intend on enjoying.  And I've heard there is a Highland Games nearby as well, so I will have to look into that.

Do you enjoy going to festivals?  What is your favorite part?  What kind of festivals do you have near you?

PS....  I will be away from my computer most of that day, but will be checking in this evening!


Eliza is the author of historical romance and time travel erotic romance.  She also writes historical fiction as Michelle Brandon.  Visit her at http://www.elizaknight.com/, http://www.historyundressed.blogspot.com/ or http://www.authormichellebrandon.com/

4 comments:

Robur d'Amour said...

In England, these events are known as 'Living History'. I've been to quite a few. I have a small selection of photos here:
http://roburdamour.blogspot.com/2010/01/historical-romance.html

My favourite events, by a long way, are Jousting tournaments:
http://roburdamour.blogspot.com/2010/01/everything-i-do-is-driven-by-you.html

And these are some very recent photos:
http://roburdamour.blogspot.com/2010/07/queen-elizabeths-visit-to-kenilworth.html

Barbara said...

These pictures are wonderful! Unfortunately, I haven't been to any historical festivals. I would love to go, though. In NY, however, the only thing I've heard of is the Medieval Times dinner, oh, and we do have a few colonial places you can visit, too. I have to find out where I can learn more about these events. They look like a lot of fun and something my kids would definitely enjoy.

ladyhawthorne said...

This looks like the Texas Renaissance Festival...been so many times and know so many people that work there now I feel like part of the family. We always go in costume to feel more at home.

Joanna Waugh said...

Great article!
This is a little off topic but another "next best to being there" is traveling via Google Earth. When I need a feel for the location of my historical, I hop on Google Earth and just go there. Granted, the views are current, but scrolling down the road provides a sense of the countryside when I can't physically be there.