Last weekend was the annual Castlefest. The 6th time this gothic/fantasy/ren fair was held in Keukenhof, Lisse. Which meant lots of friendly people, good music, crazy things happening and an all around good vibe for the entire weekend. :) Following is a recap of what Cat and I experienced while there.
Day 1 – Friday
As Friday tends to be the quieter day I wanted to leave pretty early, around noon, so we would have plenty of time to walk around and see all the pretty things they sell in the little tents. Especially since this was Cat’s first time going to Castlefest I wanted her to be able to experience as much of it as possible. I decided to wear my cybergoth outfit I posted earlier this day. I had to take advantage of the sunny weather.
My mom had loaned me her little cart in which we could bring (cooled) drinks and a blanket and whatnot. The first thing we did was look for a good spot on one of the fields near the castle and underneath a tree we claimed a spot as our ‘base camp’ where we left our things while we walked around the fair. One of the many great things is that you don’t have to worry about things being stolen there as the general atmosphere there is very laid back and you’d even be hard pressed to find a single person that could be described as rude. We sure didn’t find one.
We sat underneath the tree for a little bit as we figured out how much time we had before Omnia would start playing today and then started roaming around stopping at almost every tent because there were so many cool things to see. Dragons, elves, faeries, jewelry, so many beautiful clothes which are often custom made to size and so much more. And of course looking at all the awesome clothes people were wearing, too. :)
There was a small stage set up where anyone who wanted to could perform. Be it by music, singing, or dancing. We sat there for a bit watching four girls in pretty flowing outfits dance to Omnia. After the guy responsible for the music managed to get it playing that is.
It didn’t take long before Cat got her first hug from a complete stranger. Of all people it was one of the Greenthingz; a Garbage Goblin. She walked up to her, said “Hello” in the high pitched voice they have, spread her arms and hugged her. Cat was a bit startled by this despite me telling her beforehand that this was fairly commonplace. Both the fact that the Garbage Goblins are weird and that hugs are given freely. I guess she found it a bit hard to believe until this point. :p
As we passed more stands a woman pointed at me and said “She could! I bet she could wear it!” and beckoned me over. It was a corset shop and there were various corsets set up on mannequin busts. One of which was extremely small and thin and they were apparently discussing who on Earth could wear such a thing until I walked by. They insisted that I tried it on to which I more than happily complied because I love corsets but finding one in my size is nigh impossible as I go below the smallest size you tend to find in any store.
The corset was taken off the mannequin and my hair was pinned up so she could more easily put it on me. As she was tightening it she kept asking if I was still okay and tightened it some more. In the end she got it tightened to the maximum the corset allowed for and she was amazed, as well as the people around the stand. Few people asked if they could touch it/me because it didn’t seem real. You could very easily put your hands around my waist. Price of this (custom made) corset: 450 Euros. Which is about 575 USD.
Cat saw a very pretty deep purple and black half bust corset and they allowed her to try that one on, too. It was wired in such a way it could be put on and tightened without outside help. Quite handy, really. Every single one of these corsets were completely handmade and sized for the person buying them, hence the prices. I was told that depending on the materials used and such a typical corset would cost between 600 and 800 euros (750-1000 USD). So very much out of our price range. Oh well, maybe if we win the lottery one day. :D
While the corsets we tried on of course did not match what we wore much and they were sized for different people it was still very awesome and we both enjoyed the feel of it. Cat mentioned she would love one that would actually strengthen her back more.
After some more walking around it was time to head for the main stage as Omnia would soon start to play. Cat had never seen them before and trying to explain them without seeing them first is tough as their music has a lot of sides and influences including Celtic, folk, pagan, Irish and much more. They describe themselves as a “neoceltic pagan folk” band.
They did their sound check which is always fun to see as it’s not your typical sound check and once they were about to start with their session there was already quite a lot of people there which is why I made sure to get there soon so we could be right at the front. :)
I didn’t take pictures of them this day as I just wanted to watch and listen as they performed both old and new songs. Their new songs included “Jabberwocky”, from a nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) and “Toys in the Attic” which is about madness, the “attic” being the brain. This was immediately Cat’s favorite song which wasn’t very surprising. ;) She was an instant fan of the band.
Omnia has been releasing their new CDs on Castlefest and this year was no exception. Right after the concert they were going to hold a signing session so we jumped in line and both bought their new CD, which comes with a DVD of last year’s Omnia concert at Castlefest, and their new poster. Then we had to jump back in line again to get it signed. I had my CD signed and Cat had her poster signed. All the names above their heads. Luka is her favorite, who is very big and writes his name in encoded runes.
We then headed back to our ‘base camp’ to put our new stuff in the cart and continue to wander around until the next concert I wanted to see; Scrum. We watched the latter part of the torture of criminals and made plans to try and watch it in full the next day. We encountered one of Cat’s favorite characters, The Mad Hatter, so I made sure to take a picture of him with her. :) “CHANGE PLACES!”
Then it was time to watch Scrum who made their first appearance on Castlefest last year. We again made sure to get there well ahead of time to ensure a front row spot. Scrum is best described as powerfolk. Most of their songs are old drinking songs set to fast paced beats while using banjo, bagpipes and more. Cat wasn’t convinced at first but it grew on her after she realized it is not the music but the musicians themselves that make them so much fun to watch and listen to. Especially the lead singer Skottie who interacts with the crowd a lot. Cat waved a few times at the guitarist who even waved back at her.
The weather had been excellent the entire day so we were very lucky. We also met an awesome guy and his family at one of the tents that sold custom made renaissance outfits and dresses, he was very nice and it was fun talking to him. We also ate good (hot) pizza which was of course all made in the old conventional style; a huge metal oven heated by burning wood. But, sadly, the first day of Castlefest was now over. It was now dark and we had to walk home again and sleep and go back for more the next day.
Day 2 – Saturday
We had decided to leave a little later today as it was raining quite a bit i the morning. After checking the weather sites for today’s prognosis it wasn’t clear just how much it was going to rain later today, just that it was. Could be a lot, could be only for a few minutes.
Cat wasn’t sure what to wear so I loaned her some of my clothes. A black short top with long flowing sleeves (we were sorta matching tops this day), a black and purple spider skirt from Living Dead Souls (mislabeled as XS because it falls much bigger), and purple tights.
It was dry when we left, and we decided to keep the cart at home this time as we really didn’t have much use for it the day before and didn’t really want to drag the thing all the way there and back again.
When we got there we saw a pretty big crowd near the castle so naturally we investigated. :) It was Johannes the Jester. A complete idiot but in a good way. He did a few ‘magic’ tricks as well. He made a little girl from the audience disappear by throwing a cloak on top of her (“Tadah!”). Then later held the cloak in front of another girl who he very clearly instructed to hide behind the big potted plant behind him. He then moved the cloak away and “Tadah!”.. The girl was gone. Magic! :p
We watched some more mock swordplay battles (there was one guy who had a steampunk machine gun) while waiting for Scrum to perform today. We bought some nice and warm cheese fondue and sat down for a while. Of course at this point it had already started raining again. It wasn’t just a light drizzle either, it was literally pouring down from the skies. Everyone was soaked but it didn’t matter.
We watched Scrum, standing front row yet again of course, and they were great. About two songs in Skottie commented on the fact that he could see a lot of umbrellas and that he’d rather see their faces, and that it might block the view from the people behind them. He asked for everyone to take down their umbrellas and everyone complied right away. That was a cool sight. Everyone was soaked already anyway, it really didn’t matter anymore.
We had about half an hour to kill before the next criminal torture session was gonna start so we watched the other stage for a while that has a wooden dance floor set up in front of it. Despite the heavy rain there were still tons of people watching and dancing, it was great.
As we headed off to watch the torture being it actually stopped raining while he was setting things up and juggling heads. Sadly that didn’t last. About five minutes later it already started raining again but we watched the entire thing anyway. About halfway through the people behind us held their umbrella over us, too, so that was cool. :)
At this point we were really drenched and figured we could hide inside for a bit, at the place where the authors sell and sign the fantasy books. Of course we weren’t the only ones who had this idea and it was pretty crowded inside there already. After walking around there for a bit most people were ushered out into the hallway and we stayed there for a while. Trying to somehow dry up and praying the rain would stop.
Cat asked if we could just go home and watched the Omnia DVD as she really did not like the weather. I can’t blame her, it was very bad. I told her to hang in there though, and that it would be worth in the end to endure the rain. This night is Pagan Night with Omnia performing last during the wicker phoenix burning. Not something you want to miss.
When it was about time to start heading out for Omnia the rain stopped. In fact, the sky started to clear up and the sun was even coming out for a while, too. Good timing. Cat got some hot pizza and once again we ensured a spot on the front, this time near the right so we’d be in closer range of the wicker phoenix as well.
Jenny and Steve from Omnia joked that maybe they should start charging for their sound checks from now on as the turn out is always so good and people are already really into it. This time I took a lot of pictures of Omnia and a bunch of the crowd behind us. You could barely see anything except for an endless view of heads.
They played a lot of old and new material again and when it was time for the wicker phoenix burning Steve did his fire eating trick and ignited the torch that would start the burning while the music would get ever louder and harder. It was an awesome sight. It burned really good and after a while the rain of ash come down upon us. :p
Of course no Saturday Castlefest concert of Omnia is complete without Morrigan. They taunted the audience for a bit a few times at first but in the end they did perform it. They were really great and also had a few guest artists perform with them today.
Saturday is always the most busy day of Castlefest and, despite the heavy rainfall, this year was no exception. It was even busier than last year. At times you could barely walk or see through the massive crowds of people. The best part was that regardless of the bad weather everyone was still in high spirits, everyone was nice and happy. We also hung out at the guy we met the day before again for a bit as well.
Day 3 – Sunday
We left for the last day of Castlefest in the early afternoon and were thankful that this day it was sunny again. Cat decided to wear something a bit more casual today and wore her black pants with the black long sleeve shirt with the zippers on front and cut rips alongside both sleeves and back.
Omnia was playing early this day and when we arrived on the field they were just starting their sound check so we headed straight for the stage and yes, you guessed it, we got all the way to the front again. They played a few songs they hadn’t played before today, including “Sister Sunshine” which Steve dedicated to his daughter.
Once their concert was over, and sadly the last time we would see Omnia play, Cat really regretted wearing her long sleeve shirt. It became progressively warmer during the day so she wanted to buy an Omnia shirt to replace hers. Luckily they sold a very awesome looking lacy top so she bought that one.
As we headed out to do some more roaming I was suddenly tapped on the shoulder by huge claws. As I turned around I saw it was someone dressed up as Edward Scissorhands. He said he remembered me taking his picture last year, which is where he added he was holding a chainsaw. It was Ash! The guy I beckoned over last year now saw me walking around and approached me so I could get my picture taken with him. Awesome! :D
The only band I really wanted to see besides Omnia today was Faun and they would not perform until the very end so we had more time to roam around. Cat has seen a few things she considered getting the past few days (I had told her to not buy anything the first day to avoid impulse buying) which she wanted to look at again.
We encountered a guy dressed up as… I’m not sure, he kinda looked like Shredder from TMNT. He had very sharp claws and was posing for a bunch of people. We took his picture and then he walked up to us with arms spread and group hugged us. Not what we expected him to do. :p
One stand was selling handmade dragons you can wear on your shoulder. They looked very cool and while we both wanted one and they weren’t very expensive we had both spent our money on others things at this point.
Cat really wanted to switch shirts so I figured we could visit our friend again as he had a dressing room corner set up in his tent. We headed there and asked if she could which was alright by him. The top looked really great on her and she loved it. She was getting hungry again so she got some chicken piri piri which was very spicy.
We took a lot of pictures of visitors this time and also walked around in the Steampunk garden as we never got around to doing that the previous two days. Cat got to wind up a girl so she could continue walking again. :p
I got myself some very sweet mead (good stuff!) which Cat could not even stand the smell off. That’s okay, she had Coke. :) then we headed back to the main stage for the last concert of Castlefest: Faun, a German pagan folk/darkwave band.
It felt like almost everyone at Castlefest had shown up to see them, most likely due to it being the very last concert of the fair. They were very good and performed some great songs. About halfway through Vana Events and Castlefest crew started to gather right in front of the stage.
Shortly after, Oliver, the lead singer announced that in during their next song you might notice a little ritual that includes fruit might be visible if you pay close attention. One minute into the song people started to show up on stage dressed in fruit costumes. Grapes, strawberries, and even a banana! They then threw themselves into the crowd. Yes, there was stage driving fruit! :p They were carried around and then carried back unto the stage near the song’s end.
Then the end came and it was over. This year’s Castlefest had ended. :'( They were going to close the gates. We headed over to the Faun stand as they were doing a signing session too though we didn’t have anything for them to sign. Well, I remarked that we did have our mugs so I just handed them that and they signed it. :) So Cat did, too, and a person next to us thought that was a great idea so she wanted hers signed too.
We still had a little time to make one last stroll around the tents and stands and while I was looking at small rings at one of them Cat noticed their dog and called him a cute puppy. He came right for her when she did because apparently his name is really “Puppy”. Funny. :) I did find a ring that fit me, too, and it was now really time to get out of there.
Cat and I both had an awesome time and I know I will be there again next year.
Many more photos (hundreds more!) can be found over at my Google+ or my Facebook. If you are in one of my photos and want a copy just shoot me a message. :)