Legionnaires and gladiators march into the arena in one go, © Axel Thünker DGPh

Ro­man Fest­iv­al in Xanten

Swords, bread, and cir­cuses

Every oth­er year, around 500 per­formers, craftspeople, and traders par­ti­cip­ate in Europe’s largest Ro­man fest­iv­al to bring Ro­man his­tory to life. They re-en­act le­gion­ar­ies, gla­di­at­ors, or simple cit­izens and spir­it vis­it­ors away in­to a dif­fer­ent time in the Xanten Ar­chae­olo­gic­al Park.

When the gladiators march into the amphitheatre of the LVR Archaeological Park Xanten with their tridents and swords drawn, the crowd goes as wild today as it did back in the first and second centuries CE. More than 25,000 people attended the Roman Festival during the weekend. Many years, some visitors even take their seats in the arena on both event days. Titus, Gaius, and Marcus will take you back to the ancient Roman Empire, or more specifically to the harbour town of Colonia Ulpia Traiana, one of the largest military settlements on the Rhine and part of the Lower Germanic Limes.

Legionary troops patrol the paths, shouting marching orders at the tops of their voices. They come from all over the world and have travelled to Xanten specifically for this event. Visitors will be treated to a unique sight as the long procession of performing groups sets out. True-to-the-original reproductions of armour, elaborately made by the actors, reflects the sunlight as their heavy fur coats swing from side to side with every step.

Roman provincial and military life

Standard bearers and commanders walk ahead. The formations are lined up. The event team makes history come to life behind the town walls and gates. Up to 500 actors, craftspeople, and traders participate in the Roman festival to give guests the most realistic impression possible of Roman provincial and military life every other year.

Anyone who wants to shorten the waiting time until the next big festival can visit the Archaeological Park Xanten’s large craftspeople’s festival in the respective interim year, where chiselling, forging, and carving are presented. Visitors can learn about how goods and everyday commodities were produced in Colonia Ulpia Traiana.

Date: June 2024


Images and videos

Be inspired: images of your NRW

The costumes of the Roman legionaries are designed with attention to detail, © Axel Thünker DGPh
Roman gladiators compete against each other in exhibition fights, © Axel Thünker DGPh
Children can learn to prepare historical dishes at the Roman Festival, © Axel Thünker DGPh
The traditional games bring entertainment between shows, © Axel Thünker DGPh
The legionaries stand to attention in the arena, © Axel Thünker DGPh

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