Banqueting at Ruthin Castle: A Welsh Tradition
|Ruthin's "Mediaeval Banquet" delivers a hearty meal, energetic entertainment — and the chance to dine with a dagger.|
English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh medieval banquets are all variations on the same touristy theme. One banquet, in the North Wales village of Ruthin, is my favorite.
Entertaining visitors for more than 40 years, Ruthin's "Traditional Mediaeval Banquet" remains fun and more culturally justifiable than most (if that matters to you). The £41.50-per-person price tag (£20 for urchins under 12) is a good value when you consider that you're paying both for a huge, good meal and an evening of entertainment.
The action starts at 19:45, and lasts about 2½ hours. You'll be greeted with a chunk of bread dipped in salt, which, the maiden explains, will "guarantee your safety." Your medieval master of ceremonies then seats you, and the candlelit evening of food, drink, and music rolls gaily on.
You'll enjoy harp music, angelic singing, jokey stories and poems, and lots of other entertainment. With fanfare and historical explanations, wenches serve mead (a fermented brew made from water, honey, malt, and yeast), spiced wine, and four hearty traditional courses — pace yourself. Drink from a pewter goblet, wear a bib, and eat with only your fingers and a dagger. The hardworking actors — who go for it with gusto, and are really quite talented — kick up their energy even more if the audience reacts loudly. For the most entertaining experience, don't hesitate to clap, holler, stamp your feet, or pound the table.
Nitty-gritty: Ruthin's "Traditional Mediaeval Banquet" runs several nights per month, depending upon demand (most likely on weekends) with vegetarian options. Easy doorstep parking, just down Castle Street from the Ruthin town square. Call for reservations: tel. 01824/702-664, www.ruthincastle.co.uk).