About the Festival

The festival is organized by a group of enthusiasts passionate about Celtic history and culture. Each year, they prepare Lughnasad, a traditional event celebrating the harvest.

Every summer, they create a gateway into the world of ancient European inhabitants. They introduce you to Celts, Germans, and Romans from all over Europe, helping you discover their dwellings, ancient crafts, and weapons. They take you on a historical journey through lectures (not only) in the field of archaeology.

This is a unique opportunity for the whole family to learn about the lives of ancient peoples, their excellent food and drink, and the nature of the nearby Iron Mountains. For children, a rich program with various activities, Celtic fairy tale readings, and theater performances is prepared in the oppidum.

However, celebrations wouldn’t be complete without music, dance, and singing. You can participate in Irish and Scottish dance lessons and enjoy Celtic folk melodies during evening concerts featuring both Czech and international bands.

Remember, Lughnasad is a Celtic festival celebrating summer and the harvest, so the event will also include a procession with the grain goddess, culminating in a ritual. Join in!

Come to Lughnasad to uncover the stories of our illustrious ancestors!

When does the festival take place? This year’s dates are July 26 – 27, 2024.

Where is the festival held? At the Celtic open-air museum Země Keltů in Nasavrky near Chrudim (Pardubice Region).

Which edition? The 18th edition.

Do the editions differ from each other? Each edition has a different theme. We aim to create “thematic” three-year cycles that narrate a specific part of history. This year marks the beginning of the cycle dedicated to “kings and queens.”

What is our attendance like, and who visits us? The festival is visited by around 2,000 attendees annually, and hundreds of performers from all over Europe participate in the program. Our visitors include men and women of all ages, including families with very young children.

What can children look forward to? For children, a rich program with various activities, Celtic fairy tale readings, and theater performances is prepared in the oppidum. For the very youngest, a special tent is set aside where mothers can nurse their babies in peace.

How is safety ensured? The festival takes place in the presence of emergency services (firefighters, paramedics), and personal belongings can be stored in lockable lockers. An external agency oversees the festival’s security.

Why are we an international festival? Every year, hundreds of performers join us, including Celts, Germans, and Romans from abroad. The evening concerts also feature well-known foreign bands. This year, we received an award from the EFA (European Festivals Association).

Who is behind all this? Nearly 100 volunteers sign up each year to ensure the comfort of visitors and performers and the smooth running of the entire event.

You can also get into the spirit of the festival by watching an epic film made in 2021 for Lughnasad. It focuses on the Boian wars and was produced by Lughnasad, z.s., and 11:11 Production, s.r.o. You can watch it on our YouTube channel.

Celtic Celebration of Lughnasad

The celebration of Lughnasad is one of the eight main holidays celebrated by our ancestors throughout the year. Four of these holidays can be seen as solar festivals, derived from the spring and autumn equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices. Between them, we find the so-called quarter days, which divide the year into four additional segments. Starting from the beginning of winter, these are Samhain, Imbolc, Beltine, and Lughnasad.

In regional variations, it may also be called Lunasdal, Lunasduinn, or Laa Luanys, and in the Christian tradition, Lammas. Based on the name, one might assume it is a festival of Lugh, the god of the sun, arts, and crafts. However, this is only partially true, as Lughnasad, according to Irish tradition, is primarily a commemoration of Lugh’s foster mother Taillte, who is a fertility goddess and the personification of Mother Earth. She sacrificed her life to make the land fertile. According to legend, the god Lugh himself decreed the celebration of this festival in her honor. It is celebrated around August 1st and is considered a harvest festival for grain.

Although some sources dispute this significance due to modern agricultural timelines, it is plausible that during the La Tène period, the climate was more favorable, the fields were smaller, and the grain was harvested at a less mature stage to prevent it from falling out of the ears. Therefore, the harvest could indeed have been completed around this time.

Traditions Associated with Lughnasad

The celebrations of Lughnasad lasted several days, sometimes up to a week. A large market was held, along with exhibitions and friendly competitions showcasing the skills and talents of craftsmen, bards, athletes, and warriors. These competitions were friendly because fighting and bloodshed were forbidden during this time. Additionally, new contracts and marriages were arranged, some of which were permanent, while others were trial marriages lasting one year. The highlight of Lughnasad was a ritual of thanksgiving for the harvest, which could take various forms.

In one tradition, an effigy of the Grain Goddess/Mother Earth, made from straw and field flowers and dressed in festive attire, was carried in a procession. If the harvest was good, the effigy represented a maiden; if it was poor, it represented an old woman. The goddess was offered sacrifices and thanks for her gift. Elsewhere, the last sheaf from the field was decorated and honored. In another tradition, selected girls carried a harvest wreath, symbolizing both the fertility of the fields and the sun, essential for growth. Freshly harvested grain could also be used to bake the first bread or honey cake, which was shared among all the people. From the Slavs of Rügen, we know that the size of this cake could be used to predict whether the coming year would be good or bad.

For us in Nasavrky, Lughnasad is part of the wheel of the year. Everything begins with sowing at the spring equinox. A week before Lughnasad, we harvest the ripe grain, and the women of the tribe weave it into the effigy of the goddess. The last sheaf, containing all the fertility of the land, is hidden in the center of this effigy. This sheaf cannot be touched by just anyone because its concentrated fertility could harm them. Therefore, men throw sickles at the sheaf, trying to cut it down. Whoever succeeds “wins the old woman” and must care for the oldest woman in the tribe until the next harvest to appease the grain spirit. During Lughnasad, the goddess is decorated and carried in a festive procession. In the sanctuary, thanks are given to her, and sacrifices are made to ensure her favor in the coming years. Over the winter, the goddess is kept in a place of honor in the chieftain’s house. In spring, all the ears of grain are removed from her, transforming her from a fertile maiden into an old winter hag. She is burned in the field at the spring equinox to strengthen the soil with her ashes, and the blessed grain is mixed with new seeds, returning the fertile spirit to the fields.

In a time of full granaries and general peace, when tables were laden with food and cups overflowed with mead and beer, when bards recited ancient stories and people enjoyed dancing and singing, immerse yourself in the depths of ages and celebrate Lughnasad with us!