The museum is set up in the old gable house on Church street. This is the second oldest house in Sonderborg, dating to 1643. After falling into disrepair, it was passed on to the local historical archive in 1987, and to the tilting festival of Sonderborg in 2006, when they turned it into Denmark’s first and only Tilting at the Ring Museum.
On entering the museum you find yourself in a charming little house. I was immediately greeted by the person manning the museum on the day, who charmingly answered all my questions in ‘langsamt og tydlig’ Danish (slow and clear): The bow and the flags are simply decorations; the rings are coloured depending on their size, making it easier for the scorers to know the ring size that has been completed. There was also a wall of all the festival posters used since the tournament started in 1888, which I thought was very interesting.
If you are around during the museum’s opening times (Tuesday and Friday 10:00-16:00 during June, July and August, and every day during the festival weekend; free entry) I would strongly urge you to drop in. The attendant was extremely charming and happy to answer any questions I threw at him in broken Danish, making the visit that much more than a simple museum visit. Worth a visit!
Tilting-at-the-Rings, or Ringridning as it is known in Danish, is a Danish tradition that is most alive in Southern Jutland. Sonderborg organises one of the best known and biggest tilting-at-the-rings event, making it a good place to experience it.
So what is it?
In ringridning horse riders gallop towards a suspended ring with an outstretched lance, on which they try to catch the ring. The winner of the event is the person who manages to catch the smallest ring: the rings typically go down to around 4-5mm in diameter, so it is not an easy task!
The event in Sonderborg is typically held on the second weekend of July, with the first tournament held on Friday and the second on Sunday (so you are still in time!), with music on the Saturday. We made it down to the prize-giving on Friday and I was impressed by the pomp and formality with which the event is carried out. Following the prize-giving the riders leave the ringridning grounds to the castle area, where the stables are located, in an organised form, with the riders interspersed with musician to help in the joyous feeling.
I had already seen this event 2 years ago when I visited Sonderborg for the first time (and had no idea that is would ever come to live here). I think it is a quintessential Sonderjysk tradition that is not to be missed, particularly the parade to/from the ringridning grounds, and the tournament itself. And while you are at it, don’t forget to grab a ringridning polse (sausage) for a snack!
Tilting-at-the-Ring (ringridning in Danish) tournaments and festivals are a longstanding tradition in Southern Jutland and during the summer every town has its own tournament. Festivities last throughout the weekends, when local riders compete during the day and party in the evening in the beer tents.
Here are the tournaments in our region:
June 29th to July 1st: Kegnæs – parade with tournament on Sunday
June 29th to July 1st: Broager – Bike tilting Friday, tournament on Saturday and Sunday
July 6th to 9th: Sønderborg Parade and tiliting at the ring friday and sunday.
July 13th to 16th: Gråsten – Parade and tournament Saturday and Sunday
July 14th: Frydendal – tournament Saturday
July 20th to 22nd: Guderup – Parade and tournament Sunday
July 21st: Kværs – Parade and tournament Saturday
July 27th to 29th: Skovby – Parade and tournament Sunday