Spectacular Medieval Fair at Silves

It’s here! Our favourite time of year has returned – for ten days the town of Silves is transported back to Medieval Times, with feasting, dancing, jousting and market stalls!

We’ve posted up our favourite photos from this year’s event here – but for now here’s a quick guide to what to expect – and what to see – between now and the 11th August.

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #001

Arriving at Silves it is not long before you are caught up in the excitement of it all – if you park in the municipal car park near the swimming pool you can help the fund-raising of the local Bombeiros by paying 2 euros – and then walk past the river to one of the Fair’s ticket booths. The event is ticket only again – but for 2 Euros for a evening’s entry to the town – or only 4 Euros for a wrist band for the entire 10 days – this is extremely good value.

Shows cost extra – the jousting tournament + entry = 5 Euros or you can pay 5 Euros for entry + Castle entertainment which this year is a circus theatre group. You could even go the whole way and pay 60 Euros (adult) 30 Euros (child age 6-10) for a Medieval Experience which includes a costume, entry to all events and shows with an escort, a medieval banquet and a souvenir.

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #002

You can rent a costume for the night for only 3 Euros (adult) or 2 Euros (child) which is very good value as the costumes are quite impressive!

It is hard to know where to begin once you arrive – there are so many things to see and experience. Assuming that you do not have a show to catch which are timed – then you are free to wander around.

The area around Praca Al-Muthamid gardens has been transformed again – and this year there are a lot more games and events for families and children to enjoy – including archery!

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #003Each night re-enacts a different part of the history of this town, which was the Moorish capital of the Algarve. The show covers the period from 1189 during the reign of Sancho I, with the first Christian conquest of the city – through to 1191 with the Muslim re-conquest.

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #004

Each night covers a different re-enactment, once again wonderfully acted by the Viv’Arte drama company. For the full guide you can download a pdf here Silves Medieval Fair Guide 

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #005At 6pm each evening the events commence with a procession through the streets starting from the Praca Al-Muthamid and winding its way all the way to the top of the town outside the Castle. It’s quite a steep climb in the heat of the day!

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #006

At 6.30pm there is a small drama in front of the Cathedral – and then it is a feast of colour, drama, events and stories all evening. It’s fair to say that it can be quite hard to know what is happening where – many times this week we’ve turned a corner to find a dance troupe or drumming group have just finished a set – although we have found that this year if you ask a group they usually know where they are going to be and at what time – so just ask!

There are so many different groups performing around the event – including a Medieval dance group:

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #007

And a circus theatre group who are the main event in the Castle each evening:

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #008

Our favourite belly-dancers are also back:

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #009Add to all that a medieval music group, a drumming group, troubadours, and Eqyptian dancers – not to mention the travelling actors who wander the streets re-enacting slavery, drunkenness and medieval life!

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #010

The streets have been transformed again into a series of market stalls, bazaars and food stalls, selling all manner of crafts, homemade goods and wonderful items – a shopper’s paradise! You can even exchange your euros for Xelbs – the local currency at the time – with a pleasing exchange rate of 1:1

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #011Food is plentiful and good value – be prepared to ‘buy’ your flagon or pottery cup for your drink and to leave a hefty deposit on the pottery roof tile ‘plates’ that your food is served in – which is refundable upon return. We paid 7 Euros for a plate of ‘mista do carne’ (mixed meat platter) and 7 Euros for 2 ‘espetadas’ – meat kebabs – both of which were delicious – and drinks are usually 1 Euro for a refill of your cup. You then hunker down on a straw bale beside everyone else and tuck in – great fun!

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #012The Jousting Tournament is ticket only – and good value for an hour’s entertainment. I would say it is particularly well suited for families, and has a good balance of humour and story-telling with some mean feats of horse-riding and dexterity.

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #013

One word of advice – wear something sensible on your feet! The cobbles are notoriously slippery in Silves – and there is a lot of climbing up and sliding down steep streets to negotiate if you want to get the full flavour of this event!

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #015

The event runs from 6pm each evening, until 1am. Fridays and Saturdays are open until 2pm and on the final night – Sunday 11th – there will be a closing show at midnight in front of the Cathedral.

Silves Medieval Fair 2013 #016

We can heartily recommend this event – for us it is the highlight of the summer events held across the Algarve – and so far Dave has been every night! There are now some fantastic images from him on his website – Dave Sheldrake Photography – and he is also posting images throughout the week on his Facebook Page

We’ll add another blog post next week with the best of the images from around the shows and stalls – but for now – if you are in the Algarve this week – then do go and enjoy this spectacular event – and look out for us with our cameras!

Postscript – we’ve now added the best images onto Dave’s photo journal site – you can really get a feel for the event via his images – click the link here to be transported to a Medieval Time:

Dave Sheldrake Photography – Silves Medieval Festival 2013

© 2013 Copyright – all images belong to Dave and Alyson Sheldrake. Please do not reproduce, download or use any of these images or text without our written consent.

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19 Responses to Spectacular Medieval Fair at Silves

  1. Melanie says:

    Reblogged this on Melanie Bennett and commented:
    Festival during August (check http://www.cm-silves.pt for exact dates each year) …

  2. I was just in Silves in mid-July with restlessjo; I loved the town! So sorry to have missed this. It looks like loads of fun! :-)

  3. beyondlisbon says:

    Aaah, I love medieval fairs! :) I actually have a mug that I kept from a previous year and take it with me when I go to medieval fairs: I only get to pay refills and there’s no risk of accumulating a pile of mugs at home! ;-)

  4. Sounds great, Alyson. We’ve just been to the one in Santa Maria da Feira which also ends on 11th August. We didn’t have time to see the jousting but thought the 4 euro wristband was excellent value, too.

    I had managed to persuade Mike and the kids to dress up in medieval garb but unfortunately, when I enquired about renting costumes, I was told they cost around 40 euros for anything other than sack cloth outfits! That was rather disappointing, especially as I know that Silves and Óbidos offer cheap costume rental. Did you dress up? If so, I’d love to see photos ;)

    • Admin says:

      thanks Julie! no we haven’t succumbed to the costumes yet – too busy running round with cameras (well that’s my excuse anyway!!)

  5. Valentina says:

    Nostalgia for history of for simpler things? Don’t know. These Medieval Fairs are coming up everywhere. We have one here in California that is a load of fun and I love it.

  6. Gallivanta says:

    Looks so colourful, and I wouldn’t mind some Xelbs!

    • Admin says:

      they really go to town on this event – even down to small details – the mugs you buy for your drinks are all embossed with the event name and the Xelbs are styled on the old coins displayed in the local museum!

  7. Wonderful fun it seems. Did you rent a costume? Can’t wait for more pictures!

  8. Marianne says:

    I bet the atmosphere is wonderful :) Happy days!

    BTW, I’ve just “unfollowed” and “re-followed” your blog, as I wasn’t getting your posts in my Reader. Hope that sorts it out!

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