JUST OUT – the biggest knightly festival! The festival is becoming a tradition in Serbia and is an increasingly popular event that attracts people from all around the world. This year’s festival was held at the end of August near the monastery of Manasija in the Serbian city of Despotovac. The location is well chosen because the monastery dates from the medieval period, is fortified, and is located in the woods near a small river. Less than 500ms from the monastery is the traditional knights’ village. A nice bit of historical scenery, right?
In the village you can see men dressed in full body armor or in craftsmen’s clothes, you can have a look at the traditional crafts that these people are preserving, you can see men making pots, decorating pottery, making jewelry, painting biblical scenes, making orthodox Christian icons, and some even fixing knives and swords. Women are dressed in either the elegant dresses of the upper class or in more modest clothing, however it is not uncommon to see a damsel wearing full body armor or walking with a bow and arrow in her hands. Some women duel with the men, some cook over the fires, and some join the men in making all kinds of crafts.
What activities are there for tourists? Well, as a visitor you could take pictures, of course, with knights, damsels and craftsmen, try out swords and spears, and, what was most interesting for me - take a few archery or fencing lessons. Also, you could buy original crafts made by the people who were the hosts in the knight’s village. There were a few shows in the village such as: the archery competition, the fencing competition, or duels in full body armor (which is quite heavy, believe me) with the traditional weapons. In the evening there was a show to conclude the event where original folk songs where sung and original folk dances performed. The highlight of the event was a parade of knights afterwards, as expected.
The festival lasted for 3 days in the end of August and hosted many visitors and many participating countries. There were knights and representatives from Romania, Russia, Bulgaria, France, Scotland, and Serbia, the host country. This was the third year in a row that the festival was held, and the plan is to continue in that manner. Next year, I urge you not to miss it, because 2018 will mark Manasija’s 600th anniversary, and the fortified monastery and the festival will be very special for that occasion.
More info about the festival itself: ENTRANCE IS FREE, there are restaurants and fast food booths surrounding the knight’s village as well as hotels and motels nearby (mostly located in the city of Despotovac). Suitable and adapted for kids.
Advice: if you plan on staying the whole three days of the festival, book rooms a few months in advance, because it is crowded and the tourist facilities will fill up quickly.
Similar festivals: In Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia, every year on Lazarus Saturday (the day before Palm Sunday, or a week before Eastern Orthodox Easter) a similar, but smaller, festival takes place, lasting just one day, and held at Kalemegdan fortress (free entrance). Feel free to visit!
Photos: festival JustOut