The annual Moors vs. Christians parade in Alcoy, Spain, commemorates various battles fought from the 8th to the 15th centuries. This year’s festivities takes place April 22-24.

The annual Moors vs. Christians parade in Alcoy, Spain, commemorates various battles fought from the 8th to the 15th centuries. This year’s festivities takes place April 22-24. (iStock)

Europe’s vast assortment of festivals celebrates the widest range of phenomena, from sport to music to food and drink of the region. Another popular type of festival shines a spotlight on a specific historical event or era in time. While medieval festivals seem to have the edge in popularity, they don’t represent the only chance for time-traveling experiences. To venture back millennia or explore more recent decades past, consider attending some of these events in 2023:

Viking era

Aarhus, Denmark, plays host to the Moesgaard Viking Moot, considered to be the biggest and oldest Viking market in Scandinavia. The event plays out in and around a sandy beach called the Moesgård Strand, where both would-be Vikings and spectators can try their hands at archery, learn how to work leather, wood or silver, or hone their warrior skills. Kids can enjoy mastering skills such as baking bread or starting a campfire. Musicians, jugglers, dancers and storytellers enliven the busy scene. The event is slated for July 27-30 in 2023. Single-day tickets cost 160 Danish Krone ($23.25) for adults and 30 DKK for those ages 3-17; those ages two and under enter free. Online:

Roman times

Each year in spring, Rome, Italy revives its glory days by means of its “Natale di Roma” celebrations. Some 3,000 re-enactors typically turn out for five days of events and activities at the Circus Maximus and other venues. The theme of this year’s event, set to take place April 20-23, is water, water loss and its impact on communities then and now. The highlight event, a historical parade made up of thousands or costumed participants, starts off at 11 a.m. April 23. Entry is free. Online:

Nîmes, France, recalls its heritage by means of one of Europe’s biggest re-enactments of ancient history. The Roman Days of Nîmes, set for May 4-8, will see legionnaires, riders, chariot drivers and others populate the city streets. Visitors can check out the marketplace, watch a falconry demonstration, hone skills in workshops or enjoy dance performances. Amongst the program highlights are the games afternoons that unfold in the city’s beautiful, 2,000 year old amphitheater on Saturday and Sunday. Expect equestrian shows, gladiatorial combat, chariot racing and other thrills. Online:

Basel, Switzerland, traces its routes to Augusta Raurica, a settlement located alongside the Rhine about 10 miles east of the modern city. On the last weekend of August each year, the country’s largest Roman festival revisits these long-past times within a space that’s now a culture-history museum and excavation site. Hundreds of locals dressed up in era-appropriate garb go about tasks of the day, from driving chariots to turning out feasts fit for an emperor. Music and a marketplace add to the ambiance. The festival takes place Aug. 26-27; tickets go for 18 Swiss Francs ($19.60) adults and 13 CHF for ages 6-17. Online:

The Reconquest

Moors and Christian festivities, common in many parts of Spain, depict the various battles fought between Moors and Christians from the 8th to the 15th centuries. Amongst the country’s largest is one which plays out in Alcoy, a town in the Alicante region of Valencia. The festival commemorates a battle that took place when Alcoy lay at the frontier of the territory under Moorish rule. According to legend, when the Arab troops of Al-Azraq attempted to storm the town on April 23, 1276, San Jorge appeared during the battle to lead the Christian army to victory. In thanks, the citizens of Alcoy made him their patron saint, promising to celebrate a festival in his honor each year. Visitors can take in the festivities and watch thrilling re-enactments April 22-24. Online:

The Regency era

The Regency era of British history spanned 1811-1820, a time associated with elegance and achievements in fine arts and architecture. It was during this period that the city of Bath in England evolved from a small provincial spa to one of the most important centers of social life outside London. The city’s annual Jane Austen Festival looks back upon these times with a 10-day program of events encompassing guided tours, talks and costumed balls. The festival runs from Sept. 8-17; a highlight is the opening Regency Costumed Promenade, in which some 500 people in dress of the era take to the streets. The parade is slated for Sept. 9. Online:

The Biedermeier period

The Biedermeier period, an era between 1815 and 1848 in Central Europe, was a time when the middle class grew in number and the arts began to appeal to common sensibilities. An emphasis on home comforts meant the blossoming of furniture design and interior decoration. The town of Eltville, Germany, a suburb of Wiesbaden along the Rhine, transports visitors to this time and space June 30-July 3 with its annual Sekt and Biedemeier Fest. Stands selling the town’s sparkling wines make a visit on any day a good bet, but to experience a sense of the era, visit on the Sunday (July 2), when members of the local organization flaunt elaborate costumes of the day along the town’s waterfront. Online:

World Wars I and II

The War and Peace Show, billed as a vintage-themed event with a festival twist, uses the first and second World Wars, as well as more recent conflicts, as its point of reference. A living history re-enactment, militaria fair and vehicle show rolled into one offers the chance to peruse stalls offering vintage goods, see military vehicles in action or watch re-enactors in uniform plotting their next moves. Live bands and dances enliven the evenings. The event plays out at the Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent from July 25-29. Online:

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