Starting tomorrow are my favourite four days on the Ibiza calendar every year – the long weekend extravaganza that is the Eivissa Medieval Festival. This is the event when thousands and thousands (around 100,000 according to last year’s stats) of people flock to Ibiza’s revered UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site, Dalt Vila (my neighbourhood!) for a long-weekend full of family-friendly fun. While the summer season hasn’t officially started yet, when you see the amount of people the Medieval Festival draws to Ibiza town, it appears to be busier than the very middle of August. Which in turn makes me a little scared for the onslaught of summer. But I digress.
Eivissa Medieval is just magic. The entire walled fortress of Dalt Vila, and some of the lower town just outside its walls, steps back in time, as the cobbled streets are transformed into an olde worlde marketplace complete with maidens and minstrels sporting full Medieval costume to celebrate the anniversary of the area being inducted into UNESCO’s hall of fame (so to speak), 17 years ago. The cobbled streets are lined with markets, showcasing and selling spices and teas, stinky but delicious cheeses, chocolates and sweets, home-baked bread, -beaten jewellery, handmade soaps, hand-woven baskets, luxe leather goods, wooden one-offs, pottery, candles, totally un-PC but cool Medieval themed swords and crossbows for little boys plus the obligatory floral wreath headbands for the girls (little ones and grown-ups alike – very Coachella).
Forget watching Game of Thrones this weekend – there are duels, tournaments and battles staged at 11am and 7.30pm daily, in the middle of the streets – live action theatre, Medieval style. You’ll see geese being herded up and down the drawbridge alongside pony rides, drummers wandering around making a Medieval racket, birds of prey elegantly perched on velvet stools and ancient instruments of torture dotted around Dalt Vila to instill fear into the hearts of anyone thinking about causing trouble. But my absolute favourite part of Eivissa Medieval has got to be the amazing selection of food on offer. Baluarte de Santa Lucia (the flat expanse with cannons surrounding it and an amazing view across the Med to Formentera) turns into a Medieval food court of sorts, with tents and taverns serving up all sorts of carnivorous taste sensations. The air is chock-full of the most incredible foodie smells
Enormous roasted legs of pork, with the most mouth wateringly good crackling I have ever tasted. Succulent racks of ribs, fresh off flaming grills that are bigger than my entire kitchen. Sausages, jamon, roast chicken, steaming squid and all sorts of meaty goodness. My inner cavewoman goes crazy for it all, though I’m partial to the vats of fried potatoes with pepper, falafels and Moroccan sweet tea served up with sticky pastries (and bonus – you get to keep the pretty glass!) too. Oh. And there’s wine. And also beer. Buckets and barrels of it, the perfect way to wash down a Medieval feast.
I love it all. I literally count down the days to the event each year. I tell anyone who’ll listen to forget the opening parties – THIS is the weekend in May you want to be in Ibiza. I plan my breakfast, lunch and dinner menus based on the array of food on offer between the stalls and the market (my mouth is watering already just thinking about it). I braid my hair and happily wear a floral headdress. After all, if you live in a castle (or not), what better excuse than to indulge your inner princess… and inner cavewoman?