After visiting Castleton last week it brought back a lot of incredible memories, so I just had to pass on this idea from 2003! I’ve been surprised so many times for my birthdays, but it is quite rare that I don’t have the slightest inkling of where we are going and what we will be doing. This occasion was my 18th and my brother’s 21st birthdays, and we only knew who would be coming; about 40 of our friends and family. I also knew that I was wearing some sort of full length dress, as I had had numerous fittings blindfolded! The invites that our guests received didn’t tell them exactly what was going on either, so we were all very much in the dark…
What’s the idea: A medieval banquet and disco in a cavern in Castleton
Who for: Everyone!
Cost: For a medieval banquet, free bar, medieval band and host – approx. £3,000
Where is it: The unique venue we hired was ‘Devil’s Arse’ cavern or Peak Cavern, in Castleton, Peak District
Accommodation: There are many hotels, self catering cottages and B&B’s in Castleton but we stayed overnight in a disused barn and some of the other guests decided to bring their own tent!
It had finally arrived, Saturday 13th September 2003. My brother and I couldn’t contain our excitement any longer as the mystery began to unfold! The outfits were unveiled and I had this beautiful medieval long dress that TIG’s mum had made. As for my brother he had an equally impressive handmade outfit in a medieval style. What was going on? Where were we going? This was our 18th and 21st birthday celebration; these were certainly not the party outfits I had in mind!
After an hours drive we pulled up in a layby about 10 minutes outside of Castleton. This really confused us! We got out of the car and in the distance a horse and carriage was coming towards us. I couldn’t believe that this was our transport! With our respective partners, we clambered up into the carriage and continued on our journey. Riding through a busy tourist town was really special, I received so many well wishes for my imminent wedding (obviously they got the wrong end of the stick!).
15 minutes later we pulled up into the main car park at Castleton and there we were greeted by 40 of our closest family and friends all dressed in medieval costume. This was just amazing – the amount of effort everyone had gone to was just incredible, and the sun was shining down on us too!
Here we were all standing in a car park in the middle of Castleton, so what next? In the distance we saw this man dressed as ‘Cock Lorel’, (as folk lore goes, leader of the rogues) coming straight towards us – he was our host for the evening. We all processed behind him up this winding path and into the ‘Devil’s Arse’ Cavern, I still couldn’t quite believe what was going on! We entered the cavern, which was dark, damp and rather uneven. The path was lit with little tealights which looked beautiful and led us all the way through to an opening in the main cavern where the tables were set for a full medieval banquet. Wow! There was even a traditional medieval band already there playing, sitting on one of the rock ledges above, to welcome and entertain us throughout the evening.
The 4 course banquet was provided by a catering company and was absolutely delicious, the whole night was just an incredible experience and everything had been planned out to the very last detail.
We had a few very short speeches, then we entered through an archway to a disco area with flashing lights. We had put together a playlist of our favourite tunes, from our birthday number ones, to Nelly the Elephant, Jive Bunny, and Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini! Which everyone seemed to enjoy and dance the night away to!
Finally, as we were leaving, there had been two cakes lit and the tune of Happy Birthday echoed around the cavern. These incredible cakes had also been made by the very talented TIG’s mum.
This idea was sparked off by a chance sighting on the Internet when Tig’s Mum was searching for inspiration! It is not an organised or promoted event, but evolved through many phone calls and much planning! This was an 18th/21st birthday party idea like no other and it is certainly one that will never be forgotten.
Have you got any unique party ideas or venues?