Sunday, 3 May 2015

Elfia - Elf Fantasy Fair in Haarzuilens

Phew, so last weekend was super-busy! My feet are only slowly recovering from everything we did, my head was fortunately a little faster, also thanks to Aspirin and Paracetamol!

Everything started on saturday, when we went to Haarzuilens, a town close to Utrecht, for Elfia. Also called the Elf Fantasy Fair, it is apparently Europe's largest Fantasy event and attracts up to 12 000 visitors per day - quite impressive.
When I came across it some months ago I didn't really know what it was, but it seems to be quite well-known actually, at least several friends expressed their envy when they heard that I kinda-sorta-maybe intended to go.

All in all, Elfia is probably best described as a mixture between a renaissance faire, a comic convention and a goth festival: You can get the typical medieval market food, can do archery or watch swordfights and jousting (which we missed, but we saw the pretty horsies!). A games room is installed, talks and workshops take place in several tents or in the castle itself, take part in a Quidditch tournament or get autographs from the guests of honour. This year, some (minor) actor from Game of Thrones was a guest, including a replica of the Iron Throne. Previously, apparently Terry Pratchett or Robert Jordan had been guests, wow!

We took the train from Amsterdam Centraal to Utrecht, took then a sprinter train to Vleuten, from where the shuttle bus to Kasteel de Haar in Haarzuilens left. In costume on public transport - after having a car for the past several years, that was quite a setback!
But it showed me yet another reason why I love Amsterdam so much: While back home in Karlsruhe I got weird comments and catcalls as soon as I was wearing a dress and lipstick, in Amsterdam I can be out in broad daylight in a victorian ballgown without anyone batting an eye. What a relief!

The area where the Elf Fantasy Fair takes place is really gorgeous: A watercastle and its surrounding gardens, with little bridges, cultivated parks, romantic ponds and even a hedge labyrinth (the latter wasn't much of a challenge due to lack of leaves at this time of the year).
Sadly, the weather was not exactly optimal for an outside event and was mostly coldish, grey and drizzly, but towards the late afternoon we caught at least a glimpse of the sun. Who schedules this sort of event for April in the Netherlands anyway?!.

We somehow missed most of the official program. As first time visitors, it was rather overwhelming and we took hours just to see the whole area. We tried ALL TEH FOOD though!

I made a new friend - he's a buzzard!
The costumes were really remarkable, even for someone who has been to the WGT and Gala Nocturna - We saw princesses & knights, TARDISes & Doctors, fairies & fauns, zombies and cowboys, and all sorts of other curiosities like a gender-bent steampunk Darth Vader or an elf who had brought her parrot along as part of her costume. Nearly everyone there, except for the photographers, was costumed!

In the evening, Abney Park played on one of the stages: not as much fun as when I saw them last time, which I attribute to one of their singers having left the band, but it was a very cozy setting and the audience was all in all a lot more open in showing their enthusiasm than the German audience in Leipzig was some years ago. By the end of the concert, my feet were mostly dead and I was glad when we could board the Party-Shuttlebus back to the train station. Already looking forward to Castlefest in summer!

1 comment:

  1. We missed it because of the bad weather on Saturday. Which was unfortunately the only day we could have gone... Maybe I'll go later this year, there seams to be another Elfia.