Visitors to Horb am Neckar are often impressed by the city’s medieval character. Timbered houses, winding alleys and hidden courtyards spin a bond to days long gone.
During the “Maximilian Ritterspiele,” or knights’ festival, June 15-17, the medieval era will come back to life. The Ritterspiele is one of Europe’s largest medieval festivals, according to Elke Cosmo, of the Marketing and Festival Management Company.
The festival is based on a true event that dates back to 1498, when King Maximilian, later the German emperor, sealed the succession to the throne of Württemberg in front of Horb’s town hall: He disempowered Duke Eberhard.
During the following years, and under Maximilian’s reign, southern Germany’s economy flourished.
The Ritterspiele not only features knights’ tournaments throughout all three days of the festival, but a medieval market as well, with more than 300 booths selling arts and crafts, food, and offering hands-on activities, recreating the way of life during the Middle Ages, according to Cosmo.
Traveling minstrels, jugglers and craftsmen dressed in medieval garments will entertain patrons as they speak the language of medieval times.
“The combination of knights’ tournaments, the market, medieval entertainment and Horb’s historic atmosphere make this festival a one-of-a-kind experience for the entire family,” Cosmo said.
The festival will be located throughout Horb’s downtown area. Jousting tournaments and sword fights will be held daily at the “Turnierwiese,” a designated tournament area, located at the Neckar River.
This year, and for the first time ever, “Haraldos,” a group of stuntmen from the Czech Republic, will participate in the festival. The professional stuntmen were part of the “Dragonheart,” “Gladiator,” “Van Helsing” and “A Knight’s Tale” movie casts.
Another first-time event will be the fanfare concert of the festival’s marching bands on June 16 at the market square. According to Cosmo, the “Lagerleben,” or tent city, along the Neckar River can also be considered a highlight of this year’s festival.
“Medieval tents will be displayed and their inhabitants will talk to visitors about the way of life during the Middle Ages. Visitors also have the chance to look inside the tents to fully experience what life was like 500 years ago,” Cosmo said.
At the medieval market, visitors will have the opportunity to witness a blacksmith working on swords, jewelry and silver boxes. They can also purchase hand-crafted baskets, soaps, furniture, woven scarves and many other medieval-inspired products.
The market also offers a multifaceted entertainment program including fire breathers, jugglers, music and dance performances. Performances will be held daily at the market square.
In the evening, jugglers and musicians will come together at the market square for the “Tavernenspiel,” or a medieval tavern gaming session, promising an “exciting” and “very funny” outing, according to Cosmo.
Visitors will find a variety of food ranging from hearty meat dishes, such as deer goulash and bratwurst, to soups, oriental and vegetarian delicacies and “Stockbrot,” or bread on a stick.
For dessert, Cosmo recommends “Nussschnecken,” made from yeast dough and filled with hazelnuts. You’ll also find sweet dumplings and waffles with apple sauce.
Patrons can also indulge in “Met,” or honey wine, an alcoholic drink made out of honey, water, fruit juices, spicy herbs and yeast that was typically consumed during the Middle Ages.
One-day tickets to the Ritterspiele cost €11. Visitors dressed in medieval garments will pay €8. Family tickets (two adults and children 11 years old and younger) cost €25. Tickets for children age 6-11 cost €4.
Entrance is free of charge for children 5 years old and younger.
Tickets can be purchased at the event.
Visitors can check on times for jousting tournaments, sword fights and the fanfare concert on June 16 at the festival’s information center.
For operating hours and more information, visit www.ritterspiele.com.