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Review: Ibiza Medieval Festival 2014

... and that's when the on-coming gaggle of geese cut our swordplay short.

Forget the dinky medieval festivals in England or the States, where some never-made-it-can't-let-go actor swoops across your path offering “ye olde apple tarts, m'lady?” then trips on his pantaloons revealing some dirty Nikes on his feet… the Ibiza Medieval Festival is the real deal.

All of Dalt Vila and surrounds, the medieval fortress crowning the east coast cliffs of Ibiza Town, is transformed with colourful banners, pennants, stalls, displays and street performers in the medieval style, complemented by the Dalt Vila architecture, which is both authentic and stunning. It's the sort of fiesta that has so much going on you can easily go several times, and that's how we played it this year. The first visit was a brief one in the last two hours of proceedings on Friday night. Knowing we would return tomorrow for the stalls, my companions and I ascended the winding paths of Dalt Vila with a clear mission: BBQ pork and ale.

Having ducked and weaved through the shuffling crowds, straight past the cheese stores (pungent) but promising to return to the cake stores after dinner (prudent) we made it to the meat and music level, where we enjoyed our BBQ and brew to the mighty rousing Celtic tunes of Varius Coloribus. I raised my 2€ beer up to my friend's 15€ beer and chuckled... he had broken the cardinal rule of such festivals: case all the relevant stalls before you purchase! Schoolboy.

Our next visit to the Ibiza Medieval Festival was the following day, when we arrived at 6pm for the joust. I was enjoying the joust well before we even arrived, just by repeatedly announcing we were “off to the joust!” a few times too many. It was a rowdy affair, as you can imagine, with the audience encouraged to choose teams and be vocal in their support or derision of the contestants, who displayed impressive horsemanship in the make-shift arena. The crowd got particularly into the derision side of things and I got the feeling if rotten tomatoes or lettuce heads had been on hand they would have been pelted without a second thought – all in good humour of course.

From there we joined the crowds thronging up the paths of Dalt Vila, this time taking our time over the fantastic array of stalls. We lingered over beautiful wooden toys (swords and crossbows amongst the trains and dolls!), gnawed at empanadas made by nuns, bought a hanging candle and had a staring competition with some moody owls at the top of Dalt Vila. Every turn we were faced with incredible views of Ibiza and the Mediterranean, which we had plenty of time to enjoy whilst stuck behind a gaggle of geese, a marching band, an ox or a hunchback balancing atop a giant ball as these ‘medieval moments' weaved their way through the fiesta.

No one does a fiesta like the Spanish, the annual Ibiza Medieval Festival being a perfect example of the artistic and organisational lengths Ibiza's community will go to in the interests of a good time for all. Now do excuse me, I'm off to the joust. Ra!

Words | Jordan Smith Photography | James Chapman

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