Tens of thousands of people turned Fort Tryon Park into a Medieval village on Sunday, as the grounds around the Cloisters filled with knights and wenches, wizards and elves, evil spirits and fairy princesses, dragon slayers and minstrels and... well, basically whatever else people had costumes for and wanted to wear outside on a lovely Sunday afternoon. The occasion was the 35th annual Medieval Festival, organized by the non-profit Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation in conjunction with NYC Parks Department and, as always, the park was packed.
There was lots of entertainment to be had, all of it free. Upon the grand Tournament Field, ringed by bleachers for the day, teams of men (and one woman) smashed each other silly with heavy metal weaponry as part of the Armored Combat League battles, and an epic Joust Tournament saw brave knights also smashing each other on the head, but this time while galloping on horses. Smaller venues throughout the grounds hosted dancing, magic acts, juggling jesters, storytelling, deranged dentistry, falconry, and historical fashion show. The Society for Creative Anachronism had a huge booth on the South Lawn, with members demonstrating all sorts of bygone arts and crafts.
And, of course, there was commerce. Eating a ton of food is a big part of the Medieval Festival experience, particularly those massive smoked turkey legs but also pickles on sticks, Greek salads and wraps, excellent cookies at Just Jazzy Cakes, run by three generations of women, and, that perennial crowdpleaser, Ye Olde Fried Dough. Beer and mead flowed freely as well. And shops were stocked with random puppets, Coachella-worthy flower crowns, incense, leather goods, and... all manner of weapons.