A gladiator from Londinium before the games started.
A gladiator from Londinium before the games started.
Two gladiators fight to the death (almost)!
Two gladiators fight to the death (almost)!
The Londinium team line up before the emperor.
The Londinium team line up before the emperor.

Gladiator Games at Guildhall, Museum of London

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Kids in Museums volunteer Sarah Yeneralski reviews the family-friendly Gladiator Games.  

As a family we are big fans of the messier side of history and the games promised blood and gore so I knew it was an event not to be missed!

It was a beautiful bank holiday evening as we took our seats for the Gladiator Games, well fed from the food stalls that were on site and were ready for (fake) blood!

The compere introduced the games and explained how there would be two teams fighting that evening. The red team represented Londinium and the gold team represented the visitors from Camulodunum (that’s London and Colchester to you and me). We were cheering for Londinium, the home team.

The compere explained the protocol. Unlike the movies where thumbs up or down would indicate whether a gladiator would be spared or killed after a fight, we needed to follow the true Roman way…

If we wanted the gladiator to be spared after the fight, we had to enthusiastically wave our arms in the air and shout “Mitte!” (let him go). If not then we needed to shout “Iugula!” (kill him) whilst pushing our arms forward.

Well, we really got into the spirit of the fight and shouted “Mitte!” for our gladiators, and yes, I am afraid that we did also call “Iugula” for the visiting team. 

The final decision rested with the young Emperor who gave the final verdict on whether the gladiator would live or die.

The dramatic moment was very convincing, after all, we were told that this team had worked on Horrible Histories and the film Gladiator, but we were all aware that this was pretend and not real life.

The venue itself really added to the atmosphere of the whole evening. Underneath the Guildhall Art Gallery is London’s very own Roman Amphitheatre which was discovered in 1985. This is free to enter and we took a look round before the games started.

We especially liked seeing a skull which was found during the excavations and was thought to be from a gladiator due to the numerous traumas shown on the skull. I told you we liked a bit of gore!

Also at the Guildhall that evening, was a Roman village offering different stalls and activities for visitors to enjoy. For the younger gladiator fans, there was face painting and the Big Dig.

My kids had a go at the Big Dig where they got the chance to be archaeologists for the evening and unearth actual Roman artifacts from sand pits. The Roman village included very authentic looking sights, sounds and even smells.

All the volunteers and actors were extremely friendly and helpful and overall we found the Gladiator Games to be a really fun family evening. The gladiators were happy to pose for photos and chat with people after the event.

We will definitely be looking out for these games again next year and will return to cheer on Londinium once more.

Go Londinium!

The Gladiator Games were on 25 – 28 August, 2017.

Prices: Adult – £16.50, Children – £11.25 for children.

Various ticket prices applied.

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