Britain's best history festivals and events
Experience the British countryside as our forebears would have done at a history event or festival which takes you back in time – our pick of the best historical reenactments and events in the UK.
Step back in time at one of Britain's best historical reenactments and events in 2018
Clash of the Romans, Portchester Castle, Hampshire 4-5 August
Witness Roman soldiers throw themselves into battle as they engage with their foes using their sword fighting, archery and spear throwing skills. Watch the courageous combatants prepare for the fight in their encampment beside the commanding Portchester Castle at the end of Portsmouth Harbour – onlookers willing enough will even have the
chance to learn some battle skills for themselves.
Outdoor Explorers, Beeston Castle, Cheshire July-31 August
Prepare to release your inner explorer at Beeston’s woodland park with a range of activities, from map making and storytelling to den building and wilderness navigation. Don’t miss the Knights’ Tournament on 4 and 5 August, as skilled warriors go head to head in a medieval mêlée.
Terrific Tudors, Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon 25 July- 31 August
Hidden away in a wooded Devonshire valley beside the trickling waters of Gatcombe Brook is Berry Pomeroy Castle. Throughout the summer, the romantic 15th-century ruin plays host to a Tudor extravaganza, offering visitors the chance to get involved with Tudor activities and storytelling.
The Celts are Coming, The Scottish Crannog Centre, Perthshire 4-5 August
Join prehistory experts as they delve into the lives of the Celts over two action-packed days of stone carving, blacksmithing, metalworking, wood turning and prehistoric cooking. There will also be an Iron Age Olympics, offering kids the chance to try their hand at spear tossing, archery and fish throwing. On 15 August, join an interactive event and learn about Iron Age farm life.
Roundheads and Cavaliers, Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire July-31 August
This summer, Goodrich Castle relives the excitement of the English Civil War, an infamous period of history that saw Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads take on Charles I of England and his Cavaliers. There are games, activities and storytelling for the kids, along with a café, gift shop and spectacular views of the River Wye from the battlement walls.
Festival of Flight, Newcastle, County Down 11-12 August
The RAF Red Arrows will be headlining this year’s Newcastle Festival of Flight in County Down, joined by The Black Knights Parachute display team, The Royal Jordanian Falcons and many more. Admire their spectacular aerial displays as they zip through the sky above Newcastle and Dundrum Bay on Northern Ireland’s dramatic east coast. Free. 11-12 August. Newcastle, BT33 0AA. 028 4372 2222.
Military History, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire 18-19 August
The annual Military History Weekend features military displays and re-enactments from various periods of history. Step into a barrack hut from the Great War, discover an Anglo-Saxon encampment, try on uniforms and handle weaponry. On Sunday, the show culminates with a firing finale, an explosive end to a weekend that brings history to life.
Wartime Weekend, Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, Yorkshire 18-19 August
Experience life as it was during World War One. Learn about the work of wartime medics and the vital role that horses played. Sign up to a soldier school activity and climb inside a biplane replica to gain a fascinating glimpse into just how different life was in the early 20th century.
Now the Hero, Brangwyn Hall, Swansea 25-29 August
Set out on a journey with interdisciplinary artist Marc Rees through three narratives of war – Celtic, World War One and modern conflict. Now the Hero (Nawr Yr Arwr) explores two counterpoints, tragedy and hope, and ends with an outdoor harvest supper.
Knights' Tournament, Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Northumberland 26-28 August
This August Bank Holiday, watch the knights at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens do battle in twice- daily tournaments, complete with authentic armour and weaponry. Set within a lively medieval camp, the event also includes an archery competition, a jester and medieval music.
Gloucester History Festival, Gloucestershire 1-16 September
Step back in time to 910 and the Vikings’ raid up the River Severn, celebrating the battles just as the raiders would have with games, wrestling and a strongman competition. For those in search of something a little more peaceful, there is a chance to get involved with period crafts, cooking and dyeing.
Pirates!, Dartmouth Castle, Devon 25-31 August
Perched atop the rocky cliffs of South Devon sits Dartmouth Castle, standing guard over the Dart Estuary. Throughout the summer the castle is opening its gates to offer a host of maritime activities and pirate storytelling, bringing Britain's sea-faring history to life.
Archaeology detectives, Chesters Roman Fort, Northumberland 21 July-2 September
Remnants of Roman life still remain at Chesters Roman Fort. This summer, the fort offers a chance to delve beneath the ruins and discover what the Romans left behind. Become an archaeologist for the day and take part in a sand pit dig. The historic Roman walls will also play host to activities such as swordsmanship, hobby horse racing, and armour handling.
Battle of Prestonpans, Prestonpans, East Lothian 15-16 September
A re-enactment of the 1745 Battle of Prestonpans takes place this September in East Lothian in a dramatic living history event. While you’re there, you’ll have the chance enjoy local food and hands-on activities for all the family.
Cavendish's Horses, Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire 22-23 and 29-30 September
Home of the aristocratic Cavendish family, Bolsover Castle hosts an event exploring the art of horse training. Join historic horsemanship expert Dominic Sewell and his team as they demonstrate training techniques for art and battle in elaborate 17th century costume. The event takes place in the striking setting of Bolsover's Riding School accompanied by baroque music.