July is here and, with that, the annual tilting at the rings festival in Sonderborg. The first day I ever visited Sonderborg, long before I had any plans to move here, we had stumbled across this festival. It was a great event and one which I was looking forward to repeat once we moved here.
Tilting at the Rings, or Ringridning, is an extended-weekend celebration of tilting at the rings and all that goes with it. There is loads going on, and you probably can’t be everywhere all the time. So what should you make sure you don’s miss? These are my personal highlights:
Tilting competition at the ringridning grounds: Every day. Finals and crowning on Sunday (start around 16:45)
Concert at the town hall square. Highly entertaining! Be there early for a good spot. Saturday at 11:00.
As we have writtenpreviously, tilting-at-the-ring (better known in Danish as Ringridning) is a popular sport in the south of Denmark. Nowadays, riders gallop towards a ring suspended on a rope and try to catch the ring on a lance they carry. However, this sport has a long tradition, and is to be expected, changes have occurred over the years.
During the summer, there are displays of historic tilting events at a track right by Sonderborg castle. During the weekly occurrence, one of the tilting families of the region (participation in this sport seems to be a family tradition) takes part in a re-enactment of such tournaments from days gone by on a small scale.
When I went to check it out I had expected to see a similar display to that seen at the modern tournaments, just in costume. However, I was surprised to finally make sense of statues of cocks standing in the middle of the course! In fact, rather than only grabbing rings from suspended ropes, the riders also attempt to grab rings that are suspended from the cocks’ mouths. Seeing the riders in action it was quite clear that this is no longer a practised tradition…the riders had infinitely more problems grabbing these rings than the more ‘normal’ ones!
Unfortunately these displays only occur in Danish school holidays (which end in the beginning of August in Denmark), so apologies for writing about it this late in the season. However, if you are visiting the area, now you have an excuse to come again next year!