How blessed were we all with the weather this weekend? We thoroughly enjoyed the 25th anniversary of England's Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex over the bank holiday weekend.
This is our second year camping here and yet again, the festival was amazing. A few more features had been added to make it extra special - so as well as the fantastic jousting, parades, battles and archery there was a witches circle with an evening ritual, a forest school with free activities for children and a stunning fireworks display on Sunday night.
With the fairy tale setting of Herstmonceux Castle as the backdrop this festival is a delight, whisking you away to times gone by.
This year we were joined by our new arrival Loki - yes he's a puppy, England's Med Fest is dog friendly so Loki was welcome to camp with us and enjoy the festival as long as he was kept on his lead. You'll meet all sorts of breeds whilst walking about from Pyrenean Mountain dogs to Pugs.
The campsite is great as you can drive next to your pitch and then move the car afterwards. We camped in the family area, but there is also a public camping area and a glamping area. Immediately the kids made friends and we'd pitched up next to two lovely families.
On Friday night we were able to go to the outdoor cinema and watch Brave under the stars, the skies are incredibly clear at Herstmonceux so star gazing is a must.
The festival opened to the public on Saturday morning kicking off with a parade - this is always enjoyable with the Pentacle Drummers starting it off, followed by re-enactors in full costume, Flora the Singleton Giant a dragon and knights on horseback. Next the siege takes place in front of the castle with canons, arrows and a full size trebuchet.
The weather throughout the entire weekend was perfect - we had a good explore around the castle grounds and the beautiful walled gardens. There was archery, axe throwing and have-a-go jousting on offer as well as all the usual stalls selling everything from jewellery, replica weapons, armour, kids wooden swords and axes, drinking horns, crystals, tankards and of course Mead - which I am a big fan of.
The kids enjoyed the Mud Theatre - jumping into the mud looked quite appealing on such a hot day.
One of the bands we had been really looking forward to seeing were PerKelt and they were fabulous as usual - they play speed-folk music - I'd suggest looking them up to hear it for yourself. The drummer even let the kids have a little go afterwards.
The usual array of food was available that you'd expect from most festivals including burgers, bratwurst, twisted chips and paella and a hog roast was available at the Buxom Wench Tavern - expect to pay £3 upwards for food and £4.50 for a pint. I must say the Buxom Wench is always beautifully decorated with pompom dahlias.
The festival closed for the day to visitors at 6pm - then after 7pm the campers were welcome back into the festival grounds for more entertainment a torch lit parade took place on Saturday and Sunday evening from the camping ground to the front of the castle. This was pretty special the kids got to carry a fire torch behind the drummers to the front of the castle where there was then a fire show. The kids said they felt like celebrities as everyone was filming them. Two films showed every night down by the Knights Tavern so take your camping chairs and blankets.
On the Sunday we crammed in lots of activities including the falconry display and visiting the Witches Circle who invited us to a ritual that evening.
We also took a good look around the Living History area and had a lovely sit down with the ladies at The Hovel who had some games which the kids loved playing.
When you're at a festival with young kids it's not always easy to get to stay up late and actually catch some of the live music but we managed to go to the Buxom Wench and caught a folk band playing with some country style dancing which was great to watch.
We headed back to camp and sat around our fire pit waiting for the fireworks - the display was impressive to say the least.
Monday came and we were ready for another action packed day. This time the kids watched Maestro Leonardo's magic show in the Kid's Kingdom - Shannon even managed to assist in a trick.
Next stop was the Royal Joust by the Knights of Camelot who always put on a fabulous show.
The forest school was new this year but great for the kids with lots of free activities. They made swords from branches, even sharpening the wood with potato peelers, there was dream catcher weaving, natural dye for painting tribal designs and hammocks in the trees.
That afternoon the children attended drumming school with Stix Drummers, they spent a good 20 minutes learning to beat out some tunes.
Again, we enjoyed another film at the outdoor cinema before heading back to camp for the night.
We packed up on Tuesday morning ready to leave by midday. Camping at Herstmonceux is fantastic we didn't want to leave. If you are thinking of camping next year we would highly recommend it. There are plenty of portaloos on the campsite as well as drinking water and washing up facilities. Showers are in Bader Hall or if you are glamping there are showers available in the glamping area. All in all the site is fairly quiet, you can hear music going on into the evening but you'd expect that being at a festival.
There is a small stall selling essentials such as bread or if you need to leave there is a shop in the village.
There's so much more than I have mentioned - plenty for people of all ages and definitely one of our favourite festivals we would happily go back year after year.
Thanks for the memories England's Medieval Festival.