Report: XIX Festival of Slavs and Vikings in Wolin (Poland 2013)

It’s a 19th edition of polish restorer’s festival in a small town of Wolin (near Baltic sea and a german border). Yet it was my first visit there. It took place on 26-28 July. I decided to check by myself how looks the biggest polish event of that type, bounded with history of early middle ages.
When I reached the goal and got off the train I started my trip around the town. The first thing that came to my eyes were hundred of people dreesed up in historical costumes. This place for three days litteraly lives with the atmosphere of this event! In a flyer that I’ve received while I was waiting in line to get a ticket, organizers boast that in this year Wolin was visited by 1500 participants from 24 countries. That makes a big impression, even though in the final battle partcipated “only” around 400 warriors.
On the road to historical castle I passed by many stalls, offering gadgets bounded with history (like t-shirts, books) and some historical jewelry. Everythink was looking very good. Wolin is a small, yet very charming place. There was always something to do – there are a musem, some monuments and a beach near the town. And of course a stalls with a great polish bear (hehe). The festival was divided from Wolin by a river Dziwna, so you could simply buy a bear and observe it from a harbor. It was a good idea, because on the river there were sailing a true slavic boats, created by archeologist and based on historical sources. There was even an possibility of sailing on it by yourself! Also for a whole day there were playing folk bands from several countries (like e.g. Percival (Poland), Birka Boys (Sweden) and Lutaś (Belarus)). 
After spending some time in the town we decided to visit a castle. A tickets are really cheap – it costs 8 zlotys, so about 2 euros. In offer we got a possibilty to see a reconstruction of Jomsborg. It makes a really big impression, and not only beacuse of it’s size (which is really huge) but also of an architeture. It’s hard to desribe emotions when you are walking among all those buildings (there are 27 historical cottages, 4 gates with ramparts and a harbor!). You can really imagine how looked the life of all those people, who had to defend themselves against aggression of christian rulers. (Wolin was in that times one of the biggest cities in Europe, and it stay independent and pagan ’till around XII century). 
In castle the number of stalls was even bigger. Beside equipment for warriors and restorers, there was also numerous goods for “regular” visitors like beautiful jewelry and food (of course traditional). You could also taste a cup of mead, and learn something about a history of that place. The people from many countries (but mainly from Poland) were walking around with a very good mood, even if a weather was extremely hot. 
When me and my companion got bored, there was still many things to do. Every hour there were a staging, showing a reality of living in such a place like Jomsborg.There were e.g. staging showing the slave’s market, return of warriors from a victorious battle to the temple and such.
But the most important thing took place on 16.00 p.m. – a great battle of slavs and vikings. Like I said, there were 400 warriors from several countries. The battle of Wolin is a bit different than other events like this – because there is no plan of fighting! Nothing is directed here, there are simply two teams who fights untill one of sides defeat all of their’s enemies. It is an amazing experience, to see all those people exchanging blows into each other in a cloud of dust. Everybody’s screaming, you can hear groans of those who got a hit and fell down. Great example of how people were resolving their conflicts in the past ;]
The rest of a day we spend on the harbour. On the next day we visited a beach (not very big, but quite nice), drank some beers, buy some stuff as souvenirs and returned to home. 
Festival on Wolin is a truly great experience, even if it’s propably more fun for people who are participating in staging or battles. Yet still if you can afford a trip to this place, I fully recommend you to simply do it. It really doesn’t matter if you are a lover of history or not – this is a place where everybody will get wonderful memories. And learn something about beautiful region of Western Pomerania. 
More of my photos, presenting the battle:
by Vladyka

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