On Friday 3, Saturday 4, and Sunday 5 May, 500 re-enactors from France, Italy, Croatia, and Germany converge on the Amphitheatre of Nîmes, an exceptional venue, to participate in the Great Roman Games, a unique event that has become the biggest historical re-enactment of ancient history in Europe, in the finest surviving Roman amphitheatre in the world.
Over the three-day period, the re-enactment in the Amphitheatre will bring to life the legendary ludi (public games) as the inhabitants of Nîmes would have experienced them 2,000 years ago: the imperial court, a procession of Roman legionnaires, chariot racing, and gladiatorial combats. This edition is focusing on the barbarian kings and the invasion of the Cimbri, Teutones, and the Ambrones, who fought the Roman Republic between 113 and 101 BCE. ‘The Barbarian Kings’ retraces the epic saga of the barbarians, following their victory over the Romans at Arausio (the present-day town of Orange) and General Marius’ victory at the famous battle of Aix-en-Provence in 101 BCE.
Based on extensive scientific and historical research, the re-enactors make their battledress with materials similar to those used in antiquity. Archaeology enthusiasts, they work closely with historians. In the Amphitheatre, the gladiators, Roman legionnaires, and Celtic fighters’ combat techniques and battledress are as historically accurate as possible.
New features in 2019
> From 1 to 5 May, Culturespaces and the European Historical Re-enactment Association (Association Européenne de Reconstitution Antique, AERA) will be setting up a Roman camp in the city, in which reenactors who are passionately interested in ancient history will live as the Romans did, twenty-four hours a day for five days, in Roman legionnaire tents. Visitors will be able to speak to historians and archaeologists dressed in period attire and participate in several workshops and demonstrations.
> For the first time, the Nîmes Amphitheatre is offering a Premium ticket category for those who wish to watch the major historical re-enactment—you are invited to come to the event dressed in Roman attire. The new category offers spectators a chance to reserve seats near Emperor Hadrian’s podium, Roman scenery, and beverages served to spectators in their seats.
Programme of the "Barbarian Kings"
> The Emperor Hadrian's arrival
> A demonstration of the Macedonian phalanx (a battle formation of Macedonian infantry)
> Chariot racing
> The gladiator's Munus
> The invasion of the Barbarian Kings
An entirely reconstructed roman camp
For the first time since the creation of the ‘Grands Jeux Romains’, Culturespaces and the European Historical Re-enactment Association (Association Européenne de Reconstitution antique, AERA) has created a full-scale Roman camp in which re-enactors who are passionately interested in ancient history will live as the Romans did, day and n ight, from 1 to 5 May.
In the Roman Camp around 50 re-enactors and AERA specialists offer you a series of workshops, presentations, demonstrations, and military training exercises, enabling them to discover military and civil life in a camp during the Republican period.
You are able to learn how bread was made for the Roman army in a workshop and discover military tents decorated with objects used during the period. The re-enactors dressed in military uniforms of various ranks, and be able to show visitors the packs that the Roman soldiers carried at the time. In the centurion tent a historian who specialises in ancient history uses figurines to show the various military strategies used by the Roman army during its conquests.
Several specialist archaeologists run workshops for people of all ages:
- An archaeologist who specialises in leather will show visitors the various pieces of leather that were made and used by the Roman army,
- An archaeologist and blacksmith—a Compagnon de France—shows visitors the various forging techniques,
- An archaeologist who specialises in urbanisation in antiquity explains why and how the Roman camps were constructed.
There will be various activities: a demonstration of spinning and dyeing fabric, presentations of beauty products used by Roman women, a ‘Roman style’ hairdressing workshop, and a presentation of plants used by the legionnaires for healing and complementing their meals during the military campaigns.
The Camp will also provide workshops for children, including games played in ancient Rome and the making of a chain-mail bracelet.
From 1st to 5 May, everyday from 10am to 7pm. Place Gabriel Péri.