Medieval battles of the Great Bolgar to enter the international arena

The festival earns the new status and updated programme in 2017, but the organisers do not expect a significant increase in number of visitors

Medieval battles of the Great Bolgar to enter the international arena Photo: Ilya Repin

The festival of medieval battle takes place in the Great Bolgar on 12-13 August. This year it has earned international status for the first time. The details of the upcoming event were told by chairman of Tatarstan State Committee on tourism Sergey Ivanov and Executive Director of NP Sulitsa Aleksey Kokurin.

The first international swallow

This year the festival of medieval battle The Great Bolgar has grown to be international. It has become possible thanks to the European Grand Prix on historical battle, 5 vs 5 battles. Sergey Ivanov admitted that the idea to bring the festival to international level was from its inception. Last year they held negotiations with HMB Russia, the organization representing the international association of historical medieval battles, in the result of which they signed an agreement on cooperation and the tournament in Bolgar was included in HMB grid.

''The tournament, which will be held this year, is, so to speak, the first swallow,'' said the head of the tourism committee at a press conference in IA Tatar-inform. What is more, in the case of successful holding of the tournament it will be possible to host competitions of European clubs.

Russian favourites with competitors from Ukraine

The favourites of the battles are the teams from Nizhny Novgorod and St. Petersburg. Aleksey Kokurin called their principal competitors two teams from Ukraine.

A strong team will come from Belarus, Minsk — they are among the winners of the world championship Battle of Nations of the past years. French, who are the winners in the Battle of Nations this year in the category 21 vs 21, will also compete for the victory. ''This very fun and fighting team'', according to Aleksey Kokurin, will come from Prague, as well as the team comprised from German, Moldovan and Kazakh battlers and a mixed team headed by one of the top fighters in the middleweight Mikhail Margulis, who will bring battlers from Israel, where he came from, and also from Estonia and Finland.


Sergey Ivanov admitted that the idea to bring the festival to international level was from its inception. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Winner's pot at 200,000 rubles

All battles involve 10 different categories, and the winner's pot is 200,000 rubles. ''The nominations vary; some of them are taken by sponsors, some of them – by our partners. All is divided for all, all work in a consistent mode,'' said Aleksey Kokurin.

Fee programme: Donjon Cup, the labyrinth of hay and tours to ''Historic camp''

The festival programme is quite extensive and involves not only medieval battles. In two days, it is planned to conduct archery and equestrian tournaments, mass battles ''buhurts'' and the Donjon Cup for full contact medieval battles 1 vs 1.

The organizers offer to watch what is happening in the central stadium from the tribunes with a capacity of 920 people, entrance fee required. Tickets can be purchased for a separate unit, as well as for the full programme.

It is possible to have a closer look how participants of the festival prepare for battles by buying a tour to the ''Historic camp''.

For children there will be medieval camp with mazez of hay and playgrounds. Besides, it offers the site ''Medieval music and dance'', the fair of folk art crafts, the site of combat machines, and in the evening a fire show ''Fire tale''. You can read more information on the festival website.

No alcohol

The festival will include spots to eat, where you can enjoy a variety of interesting dishes or medieval non-alcoholic drinks. Alcohol is banned for sale.

The festival offers the site ''Medieval music and dance'', the fair of folk art crafts, the site of combat machines…

Charging on poles and houses for 300-400 rubles

One can stay overnight during the festival either in a stationary tent camp or in a touristic one. The first camp is provided with small, wooden, double and triple cabins with all the necessities for spending the night. Sockets for charging of phones will be placed on poles. Besides, in the camp, there are bathrooms, showers and places for washing. The cost depends on time of booking, but in general it ranges from 300 to 400 rubles for one place per day. There are more than 2 million places in total, half of them are already booked.

With security and medical care

This huge event will be under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, EMERCOM, Tatarstan Ministry of Health care and private security companies. 120 employees of the Interior Ministry and private security companies as well as several cars of the Centre of medicine of accidents will be on duty on territory of the festival.

The Middle Ages at 10 million rubles

The festival for lovers of the Middle Ages this year will cost about 10 million rubles. According to Sergey Ivanov, the festival budget is formed from several sources. The republic allocated the sum as last year – a little more than 6 million rubles, the other sums are not from the budget, they are from HBM Russia, tour operators that work as partners of the festival and trade companies.

In 2016, the festival attracted more than 38 million viewers, this year they expect the figure will be over 40,000

The plan to reach 100,000

In 2016, the festival attracted more than 38 million viewers, this year they expect the figure will be over 40,000. At the same time, according to Sergey Ivanov, now it occupies only 10% of the total area of the Great Bolgar. Taking into account the fact that initially the organizers aimed to make the festival the biggest in Russia, it is planned to reach the number more than 100,000 participants. However, as noted by the head of the state committee for tourism, this will require infrastructure development of corresponding scale.

''If 100,000 people come in August, it will a collapse to some extent. But we understand that 100,000 at the festival will not appear either this year or even next. But, in accordance with the development plans and of the museum-reserve and associated infrastructure, we see that in 2-3-4 years the festival will easily attract 100,000 people,'' says Sergey Ivanov.

By Mariya Gorozhaninova. Photo: Ilya Repin