Viking festival returns to York


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11 January 2017
Viking-marching_web-84953.jpg Vikings on the streets of York again
The story of Eric Bloodaxe’s last days in York will be woven into this year’s JORVIK Viking Festival.

The Viking Festival takes place in York from 20–26 February 2016 with new venues for even larger events including his ultimate feast and a dramatic retelling of the Battle of Stainmore, which can have only one conclusion for the infamous Viking king.

“For the last three years, the JORVIK Viking Festival has grown and now draws even larger audiences from across the world, so with JORVIK Viking Centre’s re-opening set for April, we want to make sure that this year’s event is an epic prequel to the story we will tell in the re-imagined JORVIK,” commented Marketing Manager, Paul Whiting.  “Eric Bloodaxe’s face has featured in the Festival logo for over 30 years, and as his time in York was just before the new timeline for the Viking city recreation we’ll be revealing in April, this seems the perfect time for a new generation to learn about the famous King.”

The epic finale of the Festival (Saturday 25 February) will tell the story of the Battle of Stainmore – where Eric Bloodaxe unsuccessfully made his last stand. It will be hosted for the first time at Rawcliffe Country Park, where a natural arena will enable larger crowds to enjoy the furious fiery finale, combining living history displays with hundreds of warriors taking to the field of combat to determine the fate of the Kingdom of JORVIK. Tickets cost £13.50 for adults and £10.50 for concessions, with family tickets (two adults and two children) for £40.50 or £52.50 for two adults and three children.

Before Bloodaxe faces his mortal enemy Maccus on the battlefield, he will attempt to win over the local Viking jarls at a celebratory dinner to be hosted at the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall (Friday 24 February).  “The Viking feast is always a sell-out event, but we needed to ensure that any venue capable of holding a larger number of diners and Vikings was sufficiently impressive to reflect the event – and the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall ticks all the boxes!  Diners this year will enjoy the usual table-slamming dramatics along with Norse-inspired live music from Einar Selvik as they tuck into a Viking-inspired menu,” added Paul. Tickets cost £69.50 per person.

Alongside the paid-for events, there will be a host of free activities for visitors to enjoy, including the annual Strongest Viking Competition, which returns home to the Coppergate Centre, the March to Coppergate from Dean’s Park, and the Best Beard Competition (all Saturday 25 February).  For those visiting York during the half-term week (20-26 February), there will be a free encampment (Monday – Saturday) in Coppergate and the Festival Hub will be located in Parliament Street, with a teaser exhibition about the new JORVIK Viking Centre experience, plus hands-on craft activities.

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The garden of DIG in St Saviourgate will play host to this year’s Viking Steading, with a wide range of domesticated animals to see and pet – a welcome return of animals to the city centre where they would have lived alongside their owners 1000 years ago!

Other highlight activities in this year’s festival include:

  • Have-a-go archery and sword combat in St Sampson’s Square (Monday to Thursday from 10.00am to 4.00pm)
  • Norse Nalebinding workshops, led by one of the world’s top Viking knitting experts, Mari Wickerts of Gothenburg Museum.  Courses for beginners and experts throughout the week.
  • Lectures and workshops with author Justin Hill, including a historical writing masterclass (23 February from 10.00am to 1.00pm
  • 1066! The End of History, a new presentation by Peter Carrington-Porter following his sell-out performances of Beowulf.  Returning to the candlelit setting of St Helen’s Church, explore dramatic storytelling of one of the most mysterious periods of this country’s history! (23 & 24 February at St Helen’s Church, adults £8, concessions £6, children £5)

Alongside the dramatic events of the Festival, those wanting to further explore the latest Viking research can meet the archaeological experts from York Archaeological Trust, and enjoy lectures from eminent speakers including Dawn Hadle, professor of medieval archaeology at the University of Sheffield (21 February, DIG, £6.50 per person), or hear the history of the JORVIK Viking Centre with a sneak peak of what is to come on 22 February (Central Methodist Church, £5.50 per person).

A full calendar of events in this year’s festival is available online at where tickets for key events can also be booked.  More details can also be found on social media by using #JVF17.


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