Reenactment is an activity where people recreate or commemorate historical epochs and events through dramatization, costumes, props, staging, and/or authentic environments.
Live-action roleplaying, shortened LARP, can have contemporary or fictional settings, but is often based on historical periods, commonly Medieval Europe. Here people are improvising and immersing in their role, rather than playing by a pre-written plot. The focus can be on adventures and fights or more on the social interaction. The plot can be inspired by various historical or fictional genres, such as fantasy, science fiction, horror fiction or military history. Scenarios similar to the LARP ones can be played out as tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs), and many groups practice both.
Living history museums are settlements, authentic or reconstructed, in a historical setting; often from the early modern period (15th to 19th centuries).
The Society for Creative Anachronism or SCA is a large group — as of 2014, 30,000 paid members and about twice that many participants in their events each year — that aims to recreate medieval Europe "as it should have been", including much of the beauty and pageantry but without plagues, inquisitions etc.
In some historical districts, free-lancers pose in period costumes, to tout for restaurants and other venues, or charge money for group photos. These are sometimes seen as tourist traps or scammers, and have been prohibited at sites such as the Colosseum in Rome.
There are often re-enactments on the D-Day beaches on or around the June 6th anniversary of that invasion.
- Kurultáj — an annual celebration near Bugac on the dusty Great Plain where you will find Hunnic warriors, Magyar horsemen, and medieval Hungarians. Towards the evening, the atmosphere grows increasingly spiritual with much shamanic chanting and drumming, eventually culminating in a fire ceremony at night.
- Medeltidsveckan ("Medieval Week"), Visby. A one-week Medieval convention in August.
- Stallarholmen Viking Festival, Strängnäs, re-enacts the Viking Age.
- 1 Batalj Event, Storå. A closed down mine with post-apocalyptic atmosphere, used for sci-fi and horror events.
Many groups for Historical Renactment exist with The National Association of Re-enactment Societies[dead link] acting as an umbrella organisation.
Historic sites will often have guides in period costume to explain the historic context of a venue. In the United States, the American Civil War appears frequently as a re-enactment epoch, particularly in the South where most battles were fought. The War of 1812 is likely to make a re-appearance in historic fortresses along both sides of the Canada-US border.
The era immediately before the adoption of steam power (and the subsequent industrialization of the United States and industrial Britain) is most common in pioneer villages, although gold and silver rush ghost towns may also be re-enactment targets. While most sites will represent colonial or post-colonial eras, don't be surprised if your guide is a costumed Viking at the Anse-aux-Meadows archaeological site on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula.
Rodeo events combine reenactment with competitive sport.
- The largest medieval LARP in North America is the Duché de Bicolline[dead link] in Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc, Quebec, Canada.
- Gimli (Manitoba) has the "Islendingadagurinn", a four-day festival in August which includes daily Viking battle re-enactments.
LARPing in the United States is mostly popular near college towns, and other areas with large nerdy populations. Where historical reenactments are focused on recreating history for onlookers, LARPers are usually focused on reliving an experience for oneself, or as entertainment, and thus joining a LARP is usually more accessible.
Every two years, the inhabitants of Tubuai in the Austral Islands of French Polynesia reenact the arrival of the mutineers commanded by Fletcher Christian who reached the north side of the island called Baie Sanglant (Bloody Bay) as the site of the landing.
Many reenactment and LARP events include carrying and use of functional weapons such as bows, swords and knives. Local laws must be followed.
Even the foam coated weapons can be dangerous, if they are starting to break. Check the condition of yours.
Some events are held at places that can be dangerous, such as caves, wilderness or abandoned industrial facilities. Be sure to know any security measures in place, and what to do if you get lost.