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The Muncaster Castle Festival of Fools

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For families seeking a fun day out, look no further than the Muncaster Festival of Fools, which takes place every year in May.

The four-day event is held at the eponymous castle and gives attendees the chance to get involved in a range of outdoor activities such as clay pigeon shooting, while a range of local and national entertainers regularly feature in the line-up.

Visitors on a fun day out can also enjoy a range of food stalls and mix with other revellers at the event, which is held in the picturesque castle grounds.

Those who are interested in history may already know that the castle dates back to Roman times and was erected to guard the crossing point at the Esk Risk. Its name is a Latin term derived from the word "castra", meaning castle or fort.

In 1208 Alan de Penitore received a grant from King John in the form of the land and it has stayed in the hands of the Pennington family to this day - the relatives now give permission for the Festival of Fools to be held at the historic venue.

Visitors to the festival are also able to explore the castle's other attractions, such as its owl centre and garden - which has been voted one of England's top spring gardens. As the festival is held in spring it is a particularly good opportunity to enjoy the floral display.

Yet the main attraction of the day is not the castle but the celebration of court jesters that have entertained its inhabitants throughout the year. Jesters and clowns were a crucial part of court in the 1500 and 1600s and this Cumbrian event is a tribute to the theatrical skill of these entertainers.

As the castle is the only in England to still have its own jester, it is the perfect place to host a competition that will see six competitors battle it out in a slap stick tournament to be crowned winner of the International Jester Tournament. The winner will be crowned the Fool of Muncaster Castle for the following year.

The 2008 winner Will Tease said: "It’s fantastic to be stepping in the footsteps of the great Tom Fool. This means that after many years of hard work I am a real jester."


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