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!
I was there and it was my first time to experience this special event.
It is a Viking precision sport existing since at least the middle ages which is still performed traditionally in Jutland/Denmark, the Northern half of the state of Schleswig-Holstein/Germany and the island of Walcheren/Netherlands. The biggest annual event is in Aabenraa/Denmark.