Among the reasons to bear the crowds of tourists in the summer are the medieval spectacles. Groups of re-enactors, like you see in the U.S. for, say, the Civil War, do something similar for the Middle Ages. They wear period clothing. They eat period food. They live in makeshift period dwellings. They conduct period work, such as forging or weaving.
Carcassonne is, of course, a medieval mecca. Re-enactors set up camp between la Cité’s two rings of walls, and you’re free to walk and gawk. It’s like stepping back into time, except you get to go home to electricity and flush toilets.
Carcassonne hosts an arts festival in July (more on that later), but in August, it’s all medieval all the time. It’s the perfect thing to do with kids.
Don’t miss the jousting tournaments. It’s as if the Game of Thrones costume people took over the rodeos I’ve been to in the Midwest. Instead of cowboys, there are knights, whose flowing locks tumble down their backs when they take off their helmets. And amazing performances by the horses, too.
Usually there are two shows a day. It’s risky to buy tickets at the last minute, because they sell out–the seating area isn’t very big (but that means you are up close anywhere in the stands). I’ll update when the tourism department posts the dates and prices.