Roman gladiators return to the ring this weekend at Fishbourne Palace in West Sussex*. Combatants will show off in the arena and offer spectators the chance to sign up for Roman soldier school in October. Here are five of the best other historical re-enactments of 2011.
* Fishbourne Roman Palace, www.sussexpast.co.uk
1. Largs Viking Festival,Ayrshire
This celebrates the Battle of Largs in 1263, which was the last Viking invasion of Britain. Fans are encouraged to dress up, visit the temporary Viking village, and watch a battle re-enactment. Would-be Norsemen can bring a flaming torch to the ceremonial burning of a replica longship. Other, more modern, Nordic attractions include a performance by an Abba tribute band.
August 27 to September 4
2. Battle of Bosworth Anniversary Weekend
The 526th anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 will be marked with a weekend of themed activities, including falconry displays, a jousting tournament, battle camps and a full re-enactment of the battle. Fans of Richard III even have the chance to meet the (soon-to-be-ex-) king at lunch. Visitors will also be able to see the exact site of the battle, identified only in October 2009 after extensive archaeological work and initially kept secret to protect it from treasure hunters.
3. Tudor summertime, Long Melford, Suffolk
Kentwell Hall in Suffolk is famous for its re-creations of Tudor life. Later this month it will host The High Summer re-creation, featuring a Tudor alehouse and 150 people dressed as 16th-century locals dancing and feasting. Visitors can also look at the reconstructed Home Farm on the estate, with rare and ancient breeds of pigs and sheep.
4. Jane Austen Festival, Bath
This big annual festival takes place in Bath, the city where Jane Austen set parts of two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. The opening ceremony sees a costumed parade through the streets with soldiers, sailors and a town crier. There are also markets, theatre performances, food tastings and walking tours. In 2009 the festival won the Guinness World Record for the biggest gathering of people (409) in Regency costume, like Colin Firth as Mr Darcy from the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice.
5. Wartime Weekend, Yorkshire
North Yorkshire Moors Railway is turning the clocks back to 1943 for its 19th Wartime Weekend. Its steam trains will run between Pickering and Whitby all weekend, with re-enactors being factory workers, servicemen and nurses. Stations along the route will have sandbags and blacked-out windows.