So you’ve made the decision: you want to check out Belegarth first hand. Pictures and articles on the internet are great, but now you want to see it in person. Whether you’re interested in the garb, the fighting, the characterization, or the general culture, nothing beats first hand experience, but how do you go about doing it? Primarily, there are two ways to really get a taste of Belegarth: practices, and events. Practices are the periodic meetings held by local realms (groups) within Belegarth. Here, fighters and non-combatants in a geographic area come together to fight, socialize, and hone their skills. The first step to preparing to visit a local practice is to find one. To do this, start by jumping over to the Realm Locator, and find the realm nearest your location. Once you’ve done that, follow the realm’s information to determine when and where they meet, and any requirements they may have for participation (e.g., age restrictions). If it turns out you don’t meet a realm’s participation requirements, don’t be discouraged — even if you can’t fight, you can still watch and participate in off-field activities, such as crafting. Finally, go and do it. If you’re not certain about something you can contact the realm beforehand, but most realms have an open door policy and welcome walk ons.
Events are inter-realm meetings where groups from all over come together to fight, share knowledge, and socialize, to varying degrees. A list of upcoming events can be found on the Upcoming Events page. These are different from practices in that they are held in many different places, tend to be a fair bit larger, and each event is typically only held annually. As well, unlike many practices, all participants are required to have garb, regardless of how new they may be. Primarily, there are two types of events: day events, and weekend events. Weekend events cost more than a day event, but also offer a lot more. These will typically run Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and offer fighting, tournaments, competitions, vendors, training classes, feasts (typically Friday and/or Saturday night), and much more. These are also a great way to really get a taste of Belegarth culture. Everyone is in garb, there are all sorts of non-fighting activities going on, and the demonstrations of skill and craftsmanship that can be found are truly staggering.
Day events, as the name implies, are events that run for a single day. Like weekend events, these events happen all over the place, and require garb to participate. Compared to weekend events, day events are much cheaper (typically $5-10), and offer more fighting and fewer amenities. Though you won’t see as many off field activities, the fighting at these events tends to be fast paced and continuous, with few breaks. For a new participant, these can be an inexpensive and accessible way to get your feet wet.
If it turns out that there aren’t any realms nor events close enough to you to make it reasonable to attend, you also have the option of starting your own realm. Though nothing can beat the benefits of first hand experience with experienced members, sometimes you have to make due and bring the fight home. That, however, is an entirely different topic all on its own.