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 the Garrison (necessary for insurance purposes), and have the minimum 14th Century kit (clothes) required. If you don’t have this yet, don’t worry. You can contact our Secretary to arrange membership, which can even be done just before or at the show if necessary. You can also contact our Living History Officer to find if it will be possible to borrow 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 encampments in historic locations with authentic tents, cookery, textile 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 unless the venue has a separate ‘plastic’ camping area, all modern tents must be completely packed away while shows are open to the public, usually from around 9a.m. til 5p.m. Members are then welcome to re-pitch their plastic tent each evening.

Garrison authentic group tents where members often camp during shows

The 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. At many shows, we rely on members to volunteer to transport this kit and at all shows we rely on members to set up the camp. Therefore, we ask all members attending an event to help with set-up arrangements (typically on the evening before the first day of a multiple-day event) if this is possible.

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

Set-up logistics vary from show to show. 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 single-day 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 set out our furniture including benches and tables. Additionally, on the morning of each event members set up our living history displays. Experienced member(s) will be on-site every day and can will instruct any new members on how to help. There will also be committee members on-hand to help you out as well.

Show Activities
The Garrison generally provide a living history camp which contains several authentic tents and several living history displays such as textile crafts, weapons and armour or archery. Our members run these displays throughout the day, showcasing reproduction items and authentic 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. New members are welcome to assist with any displays that interest them or, for their first show, just sit and listen to the experienced members and pick up information.


At almost all multiple-day events, the Garrison provide an authentic hot meal each day for participating members, which is cooked as part of our cooking display. Vegetarian and other special dietary options can be catered for if given sufficient notice – please email and the committee will pass your requirements on to the cook(s).

At multiple-day events, we also provide authentic snacks during the day including bread, cheese and various fruits.

Food 2

Plenty of water is always available during our shows.

Members are also welcome to bring their own food and/or drink during shows. However, if your food is inauthentic then please eat it out of sight, for example in one of the tents! Note also that alcohol may not be drunk whilst the show is open to the public or in the morning before the public arrive.

A few of our shows include re-enactment battles and/or fighting displays given to members of the public. Details of these may be found on the Facebook event page for the specific show.

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

To take part in combat or battles, Garrison members need to have passed the basic combat test given by the Training & Displays Officer 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.

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.

An archery display
An archery display

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 Training & Displays Officer. Some shows will have the opportunity to do archery training after hours, which will be put on at the discretion of the Training & Displays Officer.

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 members who attended the show to help with this after shows if it is possible.

Professional Attitude
The Garrison is hired by event organisers to run a 14th Century re-enactment display at public shows. Members therefore need to act in a professional manner at all times, abide by Garrison rules 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 before you attend your first event. It is available in the members-only section of this website or by emailing


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, experienced members will be available 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!