On the town side of the Danube, opening night of the Regensburg jazz festival offers the predictable pleasures of beer, pretzels and jazz. Yet cross the river and one passes through a Bavarian looking-glass, to a place where Germans of all ages, resplendent in medieval clothes, are partying like it’s Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday. With jousting, sword-fights, archery, fortune telling, suspicious herbal brews, medieval board games, cider, mead, beer, beer-wenches and more beer, it’s a more ridiculous thing than words can describe, and an awful lot more fun. I have no idea what all this neo-feudal chic is in aid of, but who cares? In amongst the knights, ladies, warlocks and hobbits, there was even a man dressed up as a leper! At least, I thought he was pretending….

As I sit with a cup of mead to watch a medieval drama unfold – complete with authentically antiquated musical instruments – an arrow whizzes past my head, and a lady who would have been considered pin-up material (in the 12th century), winks lustily in my direction. I asked a wizened prophetess if this happens very often (this sort of festival, I mean) and she answered “Ja, but not often enough.”

I raise my mead and heartily agree.

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