Last weekend I visited Europe’s biggest fantasy festivals: Elfia Haarzuilens 2017. And it was magical!
For those who don’t know, Elfia is an outdoor fantasy event in The Netherlands and from 2009 it has been held twice a year, in April at Castle de Haar (Haarzuilens) and in September at Castle Arcen (Arcen). The festival be described as a wonderful mixture of an open-air convention, Renaissance fair, concerts, and cosplay contest, spread over an entire weekend. Elfia is supposedly attended by around 30,000 guests. This year’s 25th edition of the event was held in the beautiful grounds of Castle de Haar and was celebrated with the theme “Good Faeries, Bad Faeries.”
Castle de Haar is really a great location for an event like this. You already have a great setting (for taking beautiful pictures) and a massive terrain to work with. Because of the large castle grounds, even with the crowds it was perfectly possible to find a quiet spot to just sit and relax for a bit, or to take photos unhindered of other visitors. Also the whole location is very pretty, even when you’re not looking at all the stands and cosplayers.
Elfia is quite possibly the most varied fantasy fair that the Netherlands has on offer. There is something for everyone: lectures, concerts, storytellers and themed areas (Steampunk, Medieval, Post-apocalyptic, …). There is also a huge market where you can buy almost everything from clothing to replica swords and just general toys and gadgets. I just could resist to buy myself an awesome new headpiece at the NoxAurum stall.
The food is very nice and there are plenty of stalls to get some tasty “old-timely snacks”, going from simple fast food such as fries or candy apples, to meat dishes like pork roast with sauerkraut. And all pretty reasonable in price. For those who are not eating animal meat, human or alien meat, there are also many vegetarian options. My personal favorites are garlic breads (aka Knobibröt) and, as you can see on the picture, meat on a stick.
To conclude: Elfia Haarzuilens was well worth the visit. We arrived fairly early and stayed for almost the whole day, so when we left we were quite exhausted. But we really had loads of fun. Good music, tasty food, nice market stalls, the fantastic atmosphere, meeting friends, admiring other people’s beautiful outfits (read: creations)… we just enjoyed everything and are already looking forward to the next edition!
Pictures are made by Jan Brouwer (left and middle picture) and Joop Clavaux (right).