Jousting in Germany

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Germany included an unexpected side trip to a medieval jousting festival. We discovered this event as it happened to be just a few kilometers from our hotel. It was a beautiful afternoon and we had a few hours free, so we decided to walk down to the festival. Coming up over the hill upon it, I was awed by the setting, as the medieval tent village was nestled in a small valley with a backdrop of a castle or “burg” dating from the Middle Ages.

Inside the village were throngs of people – from all classes . . . and centuries.

Photo by Daniel Dunbar

Even the kids got into the act.

In addition to the main event of jousting, the festival featured a Mittelaltermarket with many stands selling medieval fashion, food and trinkets.

At 99 euros, this dress would have been a great buy. After the festival, you can wear it to your year-end awards banquet.

Anyone thinking freestyle reining?

A falconery booth.

Candles for your next dinner party. Or, witching.

Speaking of dinner parties. . .

Actually, the food was amazing, albeit a little out of the ordinary. Caramels made the old-fashioned way, dried fruits and vegetables, spices, herbs, a fish market, fresh baked bread, complimented with mead (a wine made with honey dating back to the middle ages), and of course, the German standard, beer gardens.

Yes, it translates to flea market . . .

My daughter and her cousin carefully consider the jewelry stand, featuring many medieval pieces.

Of course, the main event was the jousting, and while the afternoon schedule featured more of a set of games on horseback, as opposed to riders jousting against each other A Knight’s Tale style, we still found it thrilling to watch.

In these games, individual jousters compete against each other at high speeds whilst performing skills such as knocking helmets off poles, piercing rings set in a row and slicing an apple on the throughway. I gathered these afternoon games were fashioned for amateur and novice riders and their horses. Similar to our horse sports they serve as an entry point whereby to hone skills, technique and gain experience in the arena, with the final destination the more ardent man to man (or, woman to woman!) jousting, which is typically scheduled as the showcase evening event.

Remarkably similar to modern day horse events, the deciding factor of success or failure often lies in the horse’s desire to perform at particularly crucial moments. Such as when one is scheduled to be galloping in full armor and glory down the arena.

It’s the crowd, it’s the noise, it’s that barbecued, yeewwh, pig at the other end of the arena . . . I’m just not going there.

Fine, I will do it, however, in protest, I’m keeping my eyes closed.

Just a personal observation, but on this day it appeared the frauleins held the upper hand.

Like any other horse show, we headed down to the “barns” to get our fix of barn smells and petting horses. Look, a medieval fly mask.

Eventually, we had to head back across the moat and return to our hotel, but we really loved our afternoon at the jousting, and securing our horse-fix so far from home. I didn’t realize what a vibrant sub-culture exists surrounding the Middle Ages and the sport of jousting.

Here’s a short video of the Kaltenberg, Germany jousting event which gives a huge insight into the intensity of the sport.

Jousting Tournament in Kaltenberg, Germany


  1. Jenn Webster says

    This is so cool Ingrid! I want to go there!!

  2. Darla Rathwell says

    Isn’t it great how the role play, takes you back to another time in history! I would love to go to Germany to see this but we also have this in Canada. There are actually competitions in Alberta, Manitoba and B.C. My cousin that just recently passed away was very involved in this sport.If anyone’s interested there are YouTubes of it on BC Renassaince