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The fairy queen

Veronica Stivala left reality at the majestic renaissance gates of Blumenthal Castle as she joined the elves, fairies and a unicorn at the annual Elfen festival in southern Germany.

Every year, pointy eared patrons, with green felt caps, flowers on the skirts, wings on their backs, and ribbons in their hair, head to the Elfen Festival at Blumenthal Castle, in southern Germany.

I joined in the fun this year and found myself enjoying a relaxing day in the sun, made even better by the presence of what was for me the star of the festival: the beautiful, silver-horned unicorn.

We left reality at the high-walled stone castle gate of the castle perched on a slight elevation in the Blumenthal hamlet, on the river Ecknach, allowing ourselves to be enveloped in a world of make-believe, populated by fairies, elves and other whimsical woodland creatures.

The festival had a special, idyllic atmosphere to it and it was enjoyable to amble around, stopping to admire stands selling handmade wooden trinkets, to taste delicacies like dried coconut cubes and to observe the many varieties of entertainment on show.

I visited the festival with family, which entourage included children. The festival is in fact great for families and is very child-friendly, with large green areas and sandpits, and shaded tent areas, making it comfortable for them to sit and play, without getting too much in the way of the adults who could join in on the green, or enjoy some time on comfy sofas under marquee tents or at the beer garden on typical wooden benches.

The healthy fruit and coconut ice-lollies on sale at the Refresh Your Elf stand were a hit

The castle in itself is an attraction, and forms part of a bigger building complex which boasts an old brewery, a pretty beer garden and the baroque chapel of St Maria. To the east of Blumenthal is the chapel of St George, erected in 1608, of which only the tower remains. Dating back to around 1700, it was originally a larger castle, built in Renaissance style and complete with its own farmyard. The castle saw various owners and it was under the Fuggers – the rich merchants from the Schwabing area in southern Germany – that three of the four Renaissance areas were destroyed. In 2007, the castle was taken over by private investors and continues to undergo restorative work to become a touristic and gastronomic attraction. Back to the festival: music played a great part in setting the atmosphere and it was pleasant to stop, look at and listen to the four-piece musician band, appropriately decked and wrapped in fringed cloaks, baggy pants and decorated in earthy hued body paint.

One of the main items on sale here, apart from food, were clothes. This festival was surely the place to go if you needed a new ivy-decked fairy costume, a felt pouch or just some fern trimmings for your knee-high socks.

If I had to criticise anything it would be that the festival was too popular. The sunny weather didn’t help in that it probably attracted more people, but the food areas were not equipped to cope with so many people and we found ourselves queuing in complicated queues, that had been divided up into a payment one, a cold food, and hot food one and the woman who was standing so close behind me that I could hear her breathe did not help matters.

Fortunately, not being in any rush to eat or be anywhere meant I was relatively content to stand in the queue and enjoy the sun, but only just.

The food was good and I enjoyed my hot jacket potato doused in a tasty herb-cream dressing, with spinach on the side.

The healthy fruit and coconut ice-lollies on sale at the Refresh Your Elf stand were also a hit among adults and children alike. My friends, many of whom have children, commented on how suitable this was for them to relax and let their children play too; adding that they would definitely return the following year.

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