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Tolkien fans descend on spa town for 'Middle-earth' festival

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11:31 CEST+02:00
Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Gollum and company will be feted this weekend in Leukerbad in an event billed as Switzerland's largest fantasy festival.

The Middle-earth festival, dedicated to the world of British writer J.R.R. Tolkien, has attracted 1,500 celebrants from 17 countries to the spa town in the canton of Valais, according to organizers.

The four-day extravaganza, which ends on Sunday, features concerts of medieval music, jugglers, acrobats, dancers, jousting between knights and participants wearing costumes of characters from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit.

This year marks the sixth time the festival has been held since it was launched in 2001, the last one being organized in 2005.

Since then, it appears there has been a pent-up demand from Middle-earth aficionados.

When tickets went on sale for this year’s edition last October, they were snapped up online in five minutes, according to the Leukerbad tourist office.

The resort community, known in French as Loèche-les-Bains, is otherwise famous for its thermal baths and as a centre for mountain sports.

The number of participants in the Middle-earth festival is limited to 1,500, although a small number of tickets are sold each day to curious punters.

Among the festival’s other attractions are workshops on everything from wool spinning to archery, guided walks and a parade through the town of Leukerbad.

A “banquet for hobbits” promising medieval dishes is planned for Saturday night, while a fireworks display set to the music from the Lord of the Rings film will provide the finale on Sunday.

Festival homepage (in German)

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