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BardWinter Nights is an event where bards, storytellers, singers, and musicians compete in a friendly supportive environment. It has been held in the Barony of Concordia of the Snows for several years, but this year, the Canton of Aschehyrst is delighted to host the Winter Nights event with the permission and support of the Barony of Concordia. The event, with the support of the Barony of Carolingia, will be held on the 24th of October. (For more information, see the event announcement.

“Winter Nights is a unique venue” says Mistress Anne of Framlingham. “It brings together storytellers, singers, and other practitioners of the bardic arts at all levels from beginner to expert, to test their competitive mettle and venture beyond their usual repertoire in a safe, supportive environment. The performance quality and companionship is of the very best.”

Winter Nights is about more than just performing. It is a tourney style competition for performers. The day will start with short pre-prepared presentations by each competitor. This is followed by pairs of opponents facing off across a proverbial ox-hide, giving and receiving performance challenges. Performers are graded on their performance. Each performer can earn extra points for issuing a supportive and positive challenge or for meeting the challenge that they received. Performers are free to ignore the challenge they have been given – they just won’t get the additional points. The judging will be by other competitors with the winner being decided by total points earned. One winner will be selected to carry the Winter Nights arm-band and return next year to defend it.

Mistress Aife believes that the competition and supportive atmosphere is key to the success of the event. “One of the things we tried to balance over the years was healthy competition and fun. Competition can be a great tool to help people strive.”

The event is open to performers and audience members alike. As many rounds as possible will be run until the evening when there will be an open bardic circle. Over the years there have been wonderful performances. As Master Peregrine the Illuminator observed: “Sometimes the prepared pieces knocked my socks off, and sometimes the pieces made-up-on-the-fly (to answer a specific challenge) made my jaw ache with laughter. … the true winner was always the audience.”

“Winter Nights isn’t simply a performance event; it is its own performance community,” wrote Master Toki Redbeard. “From its inception, the performers and the audience have made it their own. The unique personality of Winter Nights is the outgrowth of all of that passion for performance.”

The event is free, there will be an all-day-board (with a wide variety of offerings). Donations are requested to cover the costs of food. The site is damp.

The Gazette thanks Sir Michael of York for this article.