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.
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.
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!
Each 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.
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
At 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!
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:
And a circus theatre group who are the main event in the Castle each evening:
Our favourite belly-dancers are also back:
Add 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!
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
Food 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!
The 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.
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!
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.
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:
© 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.