This post was most recently updated on July 27th, 2020
Every year, in the countryside outside San Diego, you can attend an event you might expect to see in Europe, but definitely not in southern California! Yet here is where you can view the international jousting competition, “Tournament of the Phoenix”. With knights from all over the world, plus costumed historic interpreters and authentic weapons, musicians, archers and swordsmen, you can travel back in time to the medieval days of chivalry.
(cllick on any photo to enlarge)
Is this just another Renaissance Fair? No, it is not! What makes the Tournament of the Phoenix so unique is that it is a real, unstaged physical competition that lasts three days. Entrants compete in the Joust, Pollaxe Combat, and Club Tourney. All displays are as close to historically accurate as possible, as well as crafts, weaponry, and skills demonstrated. It really is like going back in time.
Here’s an example of the hunting contests:
There’s plenty for all ages to enjoy! My husband and I attended with my son and his family. Even my 2-year old granddaughter enjoyed the event. She made her own princess hat, played in a children’s area with magic wands and tents, engaged in some sword-fighting with her dad, and listened to professional story-telling.
For me, the most fascinating displays were those of artisan skills that would have been used in medieval days: calligraphy, pottery, hand-sewing, cooking over a fire, and medieval surgery. (So glad I live in modern times!)
I was also very intrigued with the skill that went into making weapons in medieval times. Swords, knives, and more were displayed as well as some of the methods used to make them. I found a very beautiful knife made of meteorite, but the price was a bit steep: $425. Definitely some beautiful craftsmanship!
Historically accurate costuming is a highlight of the Tournament of the Phoenix. Everyone strives to be as accurate as possible, from the shoes to the hats and everything in between. You will see intrically designed chain maille, leather clothing, and much more!
In medieval days, just like today, there can be a huge discrepancy between those with money and the common folks. Here at the Tournament, there are displays of the living environment beside the battle field. These photos depict the living quarters for a wealthy person or military leader, whereas the poor had lowly leanto tents and very little bedding.
We enjoyed musicians and falconry exhibits, too!
And finally, the event you are waiting for — the jousting competition! The rules are explained carefully to an eager crowd of spectators, and we all watch to see if the jousting lance is broken and where it hits. That’s how points are scored. It is exciting to watch the horses charge towards each other and the noisy clash of jousting lances, along with shards of wood flying through the air when they break. Add to that the energy of the horses and the heavily armored contestants (how do they see out of their helmet?!), and it’s quite entertaining!
I love that the Tournament of the Phoenix has something for everyone, and you can experience history while being entertained. If you’d like to attend the next Tournament, check out their website for more details. It is held every year in October — in Poway, California. Tickets are about $22 for adults or only $12 for their preview day. If you buy your tickets in advance online for Saturday or Sunday, you’ll get the Friday preview day included for free. This is an event you can attend more than once and still really enjoy it. I’ll look for you there!
I would love to go to the Tournament of the Phoenix. I enjoy learning more about things, and have a great love of anything celebratory.
This looks like so much fun! There’s so much to do. I’ve been to renaissance fair before but it didn’t look as fun as this!
How fun! Here in Europe, there are always medieval fests going on and they are such a treat to attend. The food, the clothes, the activities…it all takes you back in time!
Oh my GOD this looks like SO much fun. I’d so dress up and get so into this.
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This has to be a great history lesson. I love the photos from the falconry exhbits.
The Tournament of the Phoenix looks like a great option to visit to learn more about medieval days – and to see a non-movie edited version of what the fighting would have been like! Thank you for sharing.
The Tournament Phoenix Jousting looks like a fun event for the whole family. We will keep it in mind while we are in California.
This looks interesting! I had never heard of it before. I love any event that involves costumes 😀
That looks like such a wonderful adventure!! 🙂
Oh that’s really cool! I would love to participate! When I was a kid I wanted to be a princess and live in a castle that is almost the same
Absolutely love some of those outfits 🙂 Looks like loads of fun 🙂
Looks like a great festival, Tami. But it really does remind me of the Renaissance Fest in Mnnpls. They have jousting and other physical activities that you can participate in, and it’s so much fun!
Such a fantastic family day out. I remember going to lots of summer events like this when I was a kid, dressed as Robin Hood (not at all embarrassing).
Your photos are great! Hard to capture all the action but this is awesome! Brought back lots of happy childhood memories 🙂
Tournament of the Phoenix is quite interesting! I would love to experience this festivity.
I’m a huge fan of dressing up and that kind of stuff. It definitely looks like a fan event!
It IS really fun! (And the costumes really add to the authenticity!
Wow, it really is like stepping back in time!
Thanks for sharing 🙂
This looks like a lot of fun. I love how much detail goes into recreating the atmosphere- the costumes and crafts. I bet the jousting is a highlight!
Yep, the jousting draws quite a crowd!
Looks like so much fun… activities for the kids while everyone is taken back in time… and the lances in the jousting competition tops it!!
Never tried jousting, but I’m a fan. Especially this kind of events, I always rush myself up and take my place in the front, sorry kids! 😀
aah.. this looks so much fun! and such a good event for photos!
This is so cool – educational and fun! It’s nice to read that they try to stick to fact! Game of Thrones in the flesh!
This look so fun! I wish to witness medieval themed festivities like this. In Tallinn, Estonia’s old town the people dressed like the medieval times. Its fun!
Jousting? OMG! Love that. You’re right, I’m quite surprised to hear this happens in America 🙂
Looks interesting l love the medieval costumes. Love to attend this kind of event someday.
Ohh… so wonderful to c so much medienval. Would certainly like to explore this further.
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