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.