From Gettysburg to Hastings: Re-enactments and Living History

For some people, history is a thing of the past, over and done with. But for others, history is something through which we can get in touch with our roots and learn something about ourselves and those who came before us. Throughout the world, there are many groups who strive to bring history to the masses, through re-enactment of specific events - such as battles - or through the depiction of certain periods. For travellers, these events are a great opportunity not only to have some fun, but also to learn something new. Here are some of the world's best re-enactments and living history events.

Battle of Waterloo Re-enactment, Belgium - This annual event takes place in Waterloo, Belgium, in the originally battlefield of the famous battle. The re-enactment happens in June and gathers re-enactors from all over Europe, all dressed in period gear and holding replicas of period weapons. The astonishing spectacle starts with demonstrations of life at the time. Visitors can stop by the camps and observe the daily lives of the soldiers. On the final day, the battles of Plancenoit and Hougoumont (which make up what is known collectively as the Battle of Waterloo) are re-enacted.

Battle of Hastings Re-enactment, UK - No battle marked English history as much, as deeply or as lastingly as the Battle of Hastings. Held at Battle Abbey, Sussex, this yearly re-enactment is performed in October and counts with the participation of re-enactors from around the world. The edition of 2006 is believed to have been the largest pre-gunpowder re-enactment ever held.

Battle of Gettysburg Re-enactment, USA - Considered one of the most famous battles of the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg is remembered every year on this three day event. If you pick up a car hire in Philadelphia in July and are at a loss of where to go, then this is a great opportunity to learn more about one of the most fascinating periods in American history. Besides the actual re-enactment of the battle, the events include presentations and exhibits about life in 1860s America.

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, UK - The Battle of Tewkesbury was a crucial battle during the War of the Roses. Nowadays, the event is remembered every year in July during the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival. The event claims to be "Europe's largest free annual medieval battle re-enactment and fair" and includes weaponry displays, depictions of 15th century daily life, traditional crafts and, of course, the epic-scale re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury.

Rapska Fjera, Croatia - Held in the island of Rab in July, the Rapska fjera has its origins in the 14th century, when celebrations were held in honor of Louis the Great. Nowadays, the festival takes the island back to the Middle Ages and visitors can get a glimpse of what life was like back then. The festival includes the depiction of traditional crafts, a costume parade, cannon fireworks and a crossbow tournament.

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