Festivals are a thing here in Germany. Festivals of food, beer, music, fire engines (yes, really!) . From March until the end of the Summer you can find something going on most weekends. I kicked off festival season this year with a visit to the historic town of Hameln, host of Mystica Hamelon 2017 . The history and ambience of Hameln lends itself beautifully to this Middle Age themed festival. This is, after all, a town that can trace its roots back to the 12th century and birthplace of the rather dark tale of the Pied Piper.
The festival flows across the weekend, mainly in the form of a medieval market that spills out across the town. With a heady mix of food and drink stalls, artisans at work, games and traders hawking their wares the market quickly becomes a feast for the senses. More colour comes in the form of the outfits donned by the visitors and stall holders alike. No thrown- together, fancy dress-esque outfits here; thought and funds had been invested into the weekends wardrobe. Animal hides, antlers and horns, clan tartans and colourful fabrics caught the eye time and again. Even a couple wandering hand-in-hand dressed all in black and made up as Krampus style demons ,complete with elaborate horns. I felt a bit underdressed in jeans and jumper. Should we make it next year, I’m definitely being brave and joining in a bit. Flowers in my hair and a faux fur gilet,at the least!
Food is always a key part of any festival and its always interesting trying out new things. Stick-brot is cooked over an open fire and comes savoury or sweet. We plumped for savoury and it divided opinion. I wasn’t keen, personally, but I can say I’ve tried it. Just watching the stick mounted snacks being prepared and cooked over a wood fired oven was fun to see.
I was very happy to come upon a stall selling a beautiful range of hides and skins. The stall holder was so knowledgeable and passionate about his goods and spent a while chatting about the difference between various products and the process of preparing them. Couldn’t resist picking up a beautiful sheepskin, something I’ve been after for a while. Its a great thing when you get to meet the makers and traders who are genuinely passionate about what they do and make. Its a nice step back in a world of online selling and ever reducing meaningful contact between buyer and seller. All of the goods on offer seemed to be of a high quality and many from independent makers.
Given that one of the constant battles in my home concerns how much screen/tech time the children are allowed, it was a lovely to see the children enjoying the low tech fun on offer. Even the fairground -style rides were manual, although I did feel for the chaps who had to push it to start ! Also discovered was the excitement of ‘Maus Roulette’ which involves high stakes ( well, a whole Euro) on which box the mouse will go into first. Worry not for the mouse, no spinning involved.
The evening celebrations were just beginning as we left, live music and drinks free flowing. It looked like good fun, if a little much for the younger children. The whole festival is colourful, vibrant and loud. Whimsical, a place to shake off everyday life and make merry. Much as I imagine the original markets of old held on the same streets would have been. Its a neat twist that this historic city has managed to flip its history into a modern day festival that attracts such a diverse range of visitors. Mystica, and Hameln itself, have an appeal that is timeless. I look forward to next time.