Hordes of Roman re-enactors will take over the Roman arena of Nîmes, France next week, acting as gladiators, slaves, Roman legionnaires, and rulers in one of Europe's biggest re-enactment spectaculars. This year's theme is Spartacus.
Nîmes Great Roman Games draws hundreds of participants and over 30,000 spectators to an event whose growth has surprised even its creators. The man in charge of the show, Valérie Espin of Culturespaces, says the idea of the original 2010 event “ was just to have some chariots parading around the arena and people dressed up as Romans. But it has captured the public’s imagination and now there is a cast of 500 performing in front of 32,000 spectators over three days.”
Nearly 30 Roman associations take part, most from France and Italy, but this year, for the first time, there's a British group, the Legio Secunda Augusta, which has run its own re-enactments at home. Some of their members are also active in medieval and Napoleonic-era re-enactments.
Outside the arena, there will be a Roman market with authentic or recreated Roman food, cosmetics , clothing and jewelry, and a night-time torchlight parade.