It started about 20 years ago with just a few dozen fans of the of the JRR Tolkien book The Hobbit meeting in a forest in the Czech Republic and acting out some of the famous battle scenes from the fantasy novel.
Now, two decades later it draws hundreds of would-be Orcs, Elves, Rangers, and Dwarves from across Europe.
More than 1,000 people, dressed in costumes from Tolkien’s books, took part in the Battle of the Five Armies, according to organizers of the annual event, held in a forest near the Czech town of Doksy, 80km north of Prague.
The weapons are foam or plastic tipped so there aren’t many injuries, but a player will fall occasionally after a particularly hard hit.
Although inspired by well-known stories from Middle-earth, the results of battles at the event are not predetermined, and on several occasions, the evil side has actually won.
“We come here to enjoy a great battle, great atmosphere, have a little fight and to meet people one sees only once a year,” said Lucie Zavadilova, attending the battle for the sixth time.