JORVIK Viking Festival is to launch on Saturday with new venues to avoid Storm Dennis, the all-too-soon sequel to Storm Ciara nightly, daily and nightly again.
In keeping with the Vikings knowing where and when to anchor their boats and pitch their tents on their world travels, this weekend’s Norse invaders of York will be tweaking their plans slightly in the face of Storm Dennis being expected to unleash its fury over the next few days.
Festival manager Gareth Henry, of York Archaeological Trust, says: “We breathed a sigh of relief when Storm Ciara missed us, but it seems that Thor has taken a leaf out of his trickster brother’s repertoire and is throwing Dennis our way for our opening weekend.
“Thankfully, the Vikings are a hardy and adaptable bunch, so we’ve managed to rearrange most of the most exposed parts of the festival to alternative, sheltered and indoor locations for the first few days, and we hope to have everything back to normal from Tuesday or Wednesday, weather permitting.”
The biggest changes will be to the Viking encampment, normally sited in Parliament Street. From Saturday to Monday, however, it will be relocated to the Undercroft at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, where entry will be free on all three days. (Usual admission applies to other parts of Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.)
Many events planned for the St Sampson’s Square stage and Parliament Street marquee temporarily will be relocated to Spark: York – the venue for Viking Crafting for Kids – on Piccadilly on Saturday and Sunday, including Saga Storytelling and the festival’s newest event, the Viking Costume Competition, on Saturday at 3pm.
Have-a-go Sword Workshops will take place in DIG: An Archaeological Adventure on St Saviourgate from Saturday to Monday, hopefully returning to St Sampson’s Square on Tuesday, February 18 for the rest of the festival run.
The Nine Realms Bar will operate as normal in Parliament Street for the festival’s duration, within the Parliament Street Tent that also will host Viking Crafting for Kids during the weekdays. The Festival Information Stand can be found in the Parliament Street Tent on Saturday to Monday but should move outdoors to St Sampson’s Square on Tuesday.
At this stage, the only events to have been cancelled are the city tours, taking place on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, starting instead on Tuesday. Thankfully, flooding has only affected riverside areas accustomed to high water levels each year, and the vast majority of the city remains unaffected and open for business, including the Jorvik Viking Centre in Coppergate.
“We’re confident that visitors can still enjoy an amazing Viking experience despite these changes,” says Gareth. “But we hope that the good people of York will consider offering a poem or two to Thor – as Norse explorer Thorhall did in the Saga of Erik the Red – to bring this weather chaos to an end ahead of our second festival weekend, when hordes of warriors will once again descend on the city and march through our historic streets.”
Festival visitors are advised to keep an eye on social media and the festival website, jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk, for the latest news and any other scheduling changes.