Step back in time at Glencairn Museum’s Medieval Festival

Step back in time at Glencairn Museum’s Medieval Festival with demonstrations, music, pilgrimage…and dueling knights.

To attend the Medieval Festival at Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn on Feb. 3 is to experience life during the Middle Ages.

Musicians will entertain on a hurdy-gurdy and other instruments, while artisans paint glass and printers operate a Gutenberg-style press. Knights will duel with swords, and the devout will set out on a pilgrimage tour.

It’s all part of the demonstrations, exhibits and color of the Medieval Festival from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 3 at Glencairn, 1001 Cathedral Rd.

Highlights of the popular annual festival include:

  • Medieval stained glass painting by J. Kenneth Leap, Glencairn’s stained-glass artist-in-residence. Leap will be joined by his apprentices (students in his stained glass class at Bryn Athyn College) in demonstrating various stages of the art form.
  • Musicians on the bray harp, rebec and other replica period instruments like the hurdy-gurdy, a stringed mechanism where a crank-turned rosined wheel rubs against strings and produces a sound much like a violin. Paul Butler of Rutgers University in New Jersey, along with his wife, Stephanie, will provide demonstrations and information.
  • Bryn Athyn College history students will host a display of replica medieval weapons. Visitors also will see sword-fighting knights, members of the Medieval Martial Arts Guild, engaged in “battles” using hafted weapons – pole arm weapons, including halberds and poleaxes.
  • Demonstration of Glencairn’s working replica of a Gutenberg-style movable-type printing press by Kirsten Hansen Gyllenhaal of Bryn Athyn. Bryn Athyn College history students will assist on the press, a part of the museum’s permanent collection.
  • Display of manuscript illumination, the art of decorating pages with colored, gilded pictures, embellished initials or ornamental borders. Demonstrations by Sarah Dressler, graduate of the University of the Arts, Philadelphia.
  • Wool working demonstrations and a hands-on activity led by Eva Mergen of Huntingdon Valley. Bryn Athyn College history students will help participants take a “spin” at the process themselves.
  • Visitors can experience a Christian pilgrimage during a 30-minute interactive reenactment of a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, a popular pilgrimage site in Medieval Europe. Visitors are guided to related “sites” and objects in the museum, and along the way encounter characters typical of those seen on such a trek: beggars, a cobbler selling his wares and a robber.
  • Visitors also may take a museum cell phone audio tour, view an orientation video and stop by the Castle Café hosted by Elcy’s Café of Glenside with locally roasted coffee by Valley Green Coffee Co. Visitors also may explore the temporary exhibition, “Windows into Heaven: The Icons of Susan Kelly vonMedicus.”

During the Festival, raffle tickets will be sold for an evening of cocktails for eight guests in Glencairn’s nine-story tower and a view of fireworks at the nearby June Fete on June 7. The winning ticket will be drawn at the museum’s Sacred Arts Festival on April 21. Tickets are $10; $25 for three.

Admission to the Medieval Festival is $8; $6 for seniors and students with ID; free for museum members and children under four. Glencairn will offer a $20 family rate on admission for up to four individuals per household, with half price charged for additional guests in the party. Snow date is Feb. 10. Those coming in medieval costumes will receive a prize.

Visitors who purchase a museum membership may attend the Festival free of charge. For additional information, call Glencairn at 267-502-2600 or visit