The Norwood-area festival Swords & Sabres could easily be described as a Renaissance fair. However, a quick look into the festival’s four-year history reveals that describing it as a mere Ren Fair is missing the forest for the trees.
“It’s kind of got everything rolled into one,” says Jennifer Roncadin, executive director of the Norwood Grove Biz (who are responsible for the festival). “There’s Renaissance stuff, there’s steampunk, pirates, Vikings, some heritage elements in there. It’s a Steampunk Pirate Viking Renaissance Fair.”
It’s this eclectic, gonzo mix of historical and fantasy elements that makes the unique Swords & Sabres one of Winnipeg’s most remarkable festivals. The free, all-ages festival features a plethora of medieval activities including live metalwork by an on-site blacksmith, Viking reenactments and artisanal vendors selling chainmail garments and other historical wares. These activities converge with DIY costuming and musical performances to create a fun, carnival atmosphere.
“There’s some amazing music that comes out of [the festival],” Roncadin says. “From fiddle music to German bass to some phenomenal belly dancing groups, all kinds of period groups. And of course there’s fire dancing.”
Roncadin says that while the festival officially ends at 8 p.m, the party continues in local Norwood Grove restaurants and pubs.