Robin Hood Festival 2013 has heroic start!
Here is an impressive fact for those among you who love your pub quiz trivia: This year is the 29th Robin Hood Festival at Sherwood Forest. I made my first ever visit to Sherwood Forest and indeed the Robin Hood Festival on its opening day this year at the age of 22, and it was clear to see from the offset that Nottinghamshire’s celebration of its local hero is one of the finest festivals you will find in the UK.
The appeal is aimed at families and the delivery is seamless. I spent hours watching street performers wow the crowds with tricks and humour; children engrossed in the magic of it all and the enchantment of Sherwood Forest. If any of you have visited a Disney Park you will be familiar with that sensation of transportation into another world, as if you are no longer in the same country. Sherwood Forest and the Robin Hood Festival manages the same trick.
My first port of call was the Jousting Arena for the opening ceremony. The feeling of being transported to another period in history certainly overcomes you as you stand at the edge of the Arena, watching performers showcase their talents, only to discover that the Sheriff of Nottingham has planned to capture them. But, low and behold, our hero, our legend, Robin Hood is on hand to save the day! With some well choreographed fighting (and some slapstick humour along the way), Robin Hood dispatches the army of villains and takes centre stage for a Festival dedicated to his legend. The crowds engaged and the festival opened in true medieval fashion.
Once the opening ceremony had passed, I made my way to the visitor centre compound, where I paid a visit to the Open Air Theatre to witness Alan a Dale’s rendition of the story Robin Hood and the Silver Arrow. Yet again, thoroughly engaging whether you are 2, 22 or 82 years of age. Child participation is essential to this story, as they are picked from the audience to play the individual parts. Crowd engagement is also a must with boos, hisses and cheers needed for each individual character, depending on their stance as either a ‘hero’ or ‘villain’. Pantomime humour, ad-libing and a location deep in the undergrowth of the forest surrounded by trees and bracken, make for another entertaining show for all the family.
The Visitor Centre compound hosts many events across all the days. Jesters, treasure hunts, Walks with Hawks are only a small sample of what to expect. There is never a break in the schedule. For all the information you need with regards to events and attractions in the Forest, make sure you purchase one of the visitor guides, providing a full event listing for the entire festival, day by day. Priced at £1 and available from most shops or stalls or helpful staff walking around the festival, it is the wisest investment you will make while you are there.
The immersion within the medieval world of Robin Hood truly grips you when you take a walk around the forest on a route which takes in the Major Oak and many medieval tents scattered along the way, housing characters playing the parts of food sellers, tool makers and entertainers. You become lost in the occasion with many people in fancy dress frequently walking past you on route, taking the time to welcome you and stop for pictures or conversation. The Major Oak itself is a wondrous sight, and the location for Hautbois, Simple Tom, Medieval Skirmishing and the Medieval Maniax to name some of the attractions. As with the Visitor Centre, an event is never far away.
All in all my day was brilliant. You can probably tell from this entry that my imagination was captured. If you want a fun-filled family day out (and when I say day I mean an entire day), then look no further this week than the Robin Hood Festival. My blog can’t do it justice, with plenty more to see and do on top of my highlights. The closing ceremony takes place on Sunday at 3pm for those of you wishing to see the finale. However, I strongly recommend you make the most of the days between now and Sunday as well, to experience the wonder of one of Nottinghamshire’s finest annual events and a celebration of the legend himself.
The Robin Hood Festival is open daily from 11am between 5th – 11th August. Entry to the festival is free. There is a parking charge of £5 per car. Each performance in the Open Air Theatre costs £1 for adults, 50p for children or £2.50 for a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) and tickets go on sale at the gate 15 minutes before the show begins.
For further information on events taking place across Nottinghamshire this summer, visit our summer blog page for all the information you will ever need. We think you will agree that One Day In Notts Is Never Enough.