Although the official name is the Kids Medieval Fun Day, I think I had just as much fun as my four year old today. There was a huge range of great things to see and do – from princess hat making to belly dancing, puppet shows to sword fighting and much much more. But even more importantly, all the things I usually dread at large scale family events – parking, toilets and buying food – were a breeze. What a wonderfully orchestrated and entertaining event.
We arrived at the opening time of 10am, following a line of cars off Old Toorbul Point Road, Caboolture into the festival grounds. I expected it to take a while to find a suitable car parking spot. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by highly efficient guides directing traffic and it was a matter of minutes before we were parked, out of the car and on our way to the gate. It was a few minutes walk, so I’m glad it was nice weather, but it was a pleasant procession from the carpark of princesses, knights and their parents.
Online booking was encouraged and I purchased our tickets a few weeks earlier. Good thing as it was sold out a few days ago. The online booking process went smoothly and I was impressed with the neatly presented timetable of events with something to interest everyone. General entrance fee was just $3.50 per child (parents free!), and additional events and activities available for an extra (very reasonable) cost. With two very young girls with short attention spans, I decided to only prebook the princess hat making (for $1) and entrance to “Camelot” (also $1) then spend the rest of the day exploring the ample list of included events.
I actually arranged to take the day off work for the event and my daughter out of daycare and am so glad I did. After spending a lot of yesterday in bed with a bad cold I am also really thankful I was well enough to attend today because it was definitely a highlight of our year. I did decide at the last minute to not bring my just-turned-2 year old and take her to daycare this morning as usual. I think this was a good decision. The event was aimed at 3-12 year olds, and though younger children were welcome, I can imagine I would have spent a fair amount of time chasing her around – she can come next year. Instead I really enjoyed the day with my just-turned-4 year old who was a perfect age to appreciate the activities.
Back to the entrance – this was also smoothly managed with barely a wait before we were welcomed, showed our tickets and entered “Abbeystowe”. Had a brief chat with the lovely Suesann and Luisa who work in marketing for the Abbey Museum. I’m excited to be involved in some volunteer work with their team and had their approval to take photos at the event. In some other jobs I have needed to obtain signed consent forms for photographing children and asked about this, however here the terms of entry included that photographs may be taken and used. I also asked permission of the parents where appropriate, and really enjoyed the opportunity to photograph so many gorgeous children. Thanks to the parents for making such an effort with costumes! You can see my photos of the Abbey Medieval Festival 2011 Kids Medieval Fun Day via this link, and a few of my favourites in this post. There were also a number of professional photographers at the event such as www.brisbane-photography.com who were taking free family photos in medieval costume and I look forward to seeing some of their photos as well.
We participated in the Princess Hat Decorating, then though we hadn’t booked into extra workshops, we really enjoyed just wandering around and enjoying the spectacle. First we went and watched the Tiny Tots Tournament and Middle Eastern and Gypsy Dance. We circled around past the archery and jumping castles and past the Camel Rides. There were long queues for many of the popular free events but we found there was still plenty to do and see without waiting for these. We enjoyed the Story Telling by the lovely Cecily (who we met in May at the Cutie Curators Club), but the absolute favourite of my daughter was the Puppet Show. Her face in the photo below just says it all – Puppet Punch has timeless appeal.
As a volunteer myself for the Banquet last Saturday, it was nice to see a few of the faces I recognised from there, along with a many other wonderful volunteers – a huge thank you to all of you for making the event such a special day.
Some of the things I liked best as a parent were that food was readily available, reasonably priced and there were healthy options – and you were also most welcome to bring your own picnic. Parking was easy and free. The entire day, including entry, activities, lunch, ice cream and a souvenir, cost me less than $50. When my daughter decided at the last minute she needed the toilet as four year olds often do, I was expecting a long wait, but there were plenty of available cubicles. I also appreciated that it was an event suitable for boys and girls and truly spanning the whole target age bracket (3-12 years). (Mostly) boys were having the time of their life at the Knights Training School and Senior Archery School while (mostly) girls enjoyed running around as princesses – but it was great to see that there was no event which was solely restricted to one gender. I really loved the exposure to history and learning in such a fun way – and seeing the joy in so many little faces. Most of all, it was a day my daughter and I both thoroughly enjoyed together and will no doubt remember for years to come.
We were completely entertained for the entire four hours and there was still plenty we didn’t get to see. So we are very much looking forward to returning on the weekend for the Abbey Medieval Tournament. Tickets are available at the gate if you haven’t yet purchased them online…might see you there!