Guide: What to expect at shows

A Cardiff Castle Garrison living history encampment
A Cardiff Castle Garrison living history encampment

Everyone is welcome at shows, as long as they are a paid-up member of Cardiff Castle Garrison (necessary for insurance purposes), and have the minimum fourteenth-century kit required. If you don’t have membership or kit yet, don’t worry; you can contact our membership officer to arrange membership, which can even be done just before the show if necessary, and contact our living history officer to borrow authentic group kit. To message either, please email

Show Features and Facilities:

Show features and facilities vary from show to show; from small tabletop displays in modern locations to full living history camps in historic locations with authentic tents, cookery, craft, arms and armour displays, and archery and combat ranges. Please see the appropriate Garrison Facebook events page for details of what each show will contain.

Types of Show

Garrison shows fall into two categories: single-day shows and multiple-day shows.

Single-day shows take place over one day with no overnight camping. They are usually set up on the morning of the show before it starts and taken down that evening after it finishes.

Multiple-day shows take place over several days, usually weekends, with camping options for members overnight. Set up takes place the night before the show’s first day, and take down on the evening of the show’s last day.

Camping Options:

Camping is usually either in authentic group tents or in members’ personal plastic (modern) tents. At most of our multiple-day shows we provide authentic group tents for members to sleep in. These are usually divided into girls’ and boys’ tents and members provide their own bedding. If you would like a place in one of these tents or would like to check if they will be at an event, click through to the event page on our Facebook group and comment, or email us at

Alternatively, if space is permitting, members are welcome to pitch their own tents at shows, however, please note that modern tents must be completely packed away while shows are open to the public, usually from around 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Members are then welcome to re-pitch tents each evening.

Garrison authentic group tents where members often camp during shows

Set up:

Members pitching an authentic group tent
Members pitching an authentic group tent

Garrison owns many large pieces of kit necessary for shows, including tents, fireboxes, tables, benches etc. which must be transported from our storage facility to the show location and then be set up there prior to the show’s opening. Only volunteer group members are available to help with transport and set up and we ask all attending members to help with set up if it is possible.

Set up logistics vary from show to show, and instructions will be included on the event page for the specific show on the Garrison’s Facebook group closer to the event date, so check on Facebook for this information.

Generally, some volunteer members pick up kit from storage with their vehicles and take it to the show’s location the night before a multiple-day show, or on the morning of a daily show, and other members meet them there to help set everything up.

Volunteers at set-up help to pitch our authentic tents, set out our fire and cooking equipment and our movable furniture including benches and tables, plus on the morning of each event they set up our living history displays. An experienced member will be camp leader each day and will instruct other member on how to set the camp up, there will also be committee members on hand to help you out as well.

Show Activities:

Garrison generally provide a living history camp which contains several authentic tents and several living history displays such as crafts, armour, archery and blacksmithing. Our members run these displays throughout the day, showcasing authentic items and skills to the public and answering their questions.

Please don’t worry if you don’t yet know enough to give a display as we’ll teach you everything you need to know during shows, and new members often assist with these displays where they pick up necessary information and how to answer questions from the public.



Weekend events provide an authentic hot lunch for members during the day, which is cooked as part of our cooking display. Vegetarian and other special dietary options can be catered for, and if you need any of these then please speak to a committee member who will pass your requirements on to the cooks.

These shows also provide various authentic snacks of bread, cheese, and various fruits during the day.

Food 2

Plenty of water is always available during our shows.

Members are also welcome to provide their own food during shows; if your food is inauthentic to the fourteenth century then please eat it out of sight, for example in one of the tents!


Garrison members taking part in a full-scale battle at a show
Garrison members taking part in a full-scale battle at a show

A selection of our shows contain battles and fighting displays given to members of the public. Details of these may be found on the Facebook event page for the specific show. To take part in combat or battles, Garrison members need to have passed the basic combat test given by the combat captain and have the minimum amount of kit required to take part. For more information, please see our Introduction to Combat and Basic Combat Test posts.


An archery display
An archery display

Some of the Garrison’s events will have the option to do archery displays, have-a-go archery with the public or shooting in battles. To be able to do this you must have passed your basic archery test and for archery displays and battles have your own archery equipment which has been passed by the archery captain. Some show will have the opertunity to do archery training after hours, which will be put on at the descretion of the archery captain.

Take down:

At the end of a show, all Garrison camp equipment needs to be taken down and transported back into storage. As with set up, there are only volunteer Garrison members available to do this, so we ask all show attendees to help with this after shows if it is possible.

Professional Attitude:

Cardiff Castle Garrison is hired by events organisers to run a fourteenth-century re-enactment display at public shows. Members therefore need to act in a professional manner at all times, abide by Garrison rules on authenticity and conduct during group events, and not commit any actions during these events which may bring the group into disrepute. Please have a quick read though the Garrison Code of Conduct, (please not this link only works if you are a group member on facebook)


Shows can seem daunting at first; but please don’t worry, our committee members will be on hand to help you as much as we can. If you have any problems, a camp leader will be available who is in charge of the camp during the day, and you can speak to them, or any committee members, about any issues you may have. Garrison loves new members, and we’d be really happy to see you at shows!