I can’t think of many cities that celebrate their history with quite as much gusto as good old York, and this February half term will see it welcome Vikings in their droves as it spends the week embracing its past with the Jorvik Viking Festival. The festival’s set to take place from 15th – 21st February, as this year’s theme focuses on the one thousandth anniversary of King Canute taking England’s throne, the festival’s determined to go ahead despite the recent…shall we say…wet weather.
So, we know what you’re wondering, how do droves of Vikings spend a week in York? Well, here are just a few of the festival programme highlights.
March to Coppergate (Saturday 20th Feb)
Pick a spot and await the procession of unruly Vikings as they parade their way through the cobbled streets of the city from 1.30pm. The Vikings will gather in St Dean’s Park beside York Minster before they make their noisy way to Coppergate, and you’re welcome to line the route and cheer them on their fearsome way.
King Canute’s Spectacular Finale (Saturday 20th Feb)
Now, you’ll need to book tickets for this event in advance at £10 each, and it’ll see a whole group of feisty Vikings battle Anglo Saxons as they recreate the fight that took place over England’s throne all the way back in 1016…now that’s something you don’t see everyday…
The Best Beard Competition (Saturday 20th Feb)
You know that beard your husband / son / dad has been refusing to get rid of since they came back into fashion…well now it’s finally time for it to shine! The competition’s free to enter (and to spectate), and genuine beards are as welcome as fake ones to be judged at the Viking encampment on Parliament Street from 5pm.
Brawl at the Guildhall – Strongest Viking Competition (Saturday 20th Feb)
This one sounds like all kinds of fun, and how often can you say you’ve seen the strongest Viking of the year crowned?! We’d recommend booking your tickets in advance because this event’s always a popular one, and the Viking-strength-proving action starts at 10am.
Beowulf by Candlelight (Thursday 18th and Friday 19th Feb at 7.30pm)
I’m relying on some of you guys to go to this event just so I can see the photos, because it sounds amazing. St Helen’s Church will be a shadowy setting of flickering candlelight as Peter Carrington-Porter retells the gripping tale of Beowulf. We’d advise you to book tickets in advance as this event’s been a sell out for the past three festivals.
The programme includes a whole selection of Viking-themed ways to enjoy the festival, and don’t forget that throughout the festival you’ll be able to go and visit the Vikings themselves at their encampment on Parliament Street. They’ll be happy to chat, pose for pics, and show visitors the animals on their Viking farm.