VOYAGING Vikings will make a nine-day stop in York next month for the 36th annual celebration of all things Norse, the Jorvik Viking Festival.
The largest event of its kind in Europe, drawing 45,000 people each year, this winter’s festival will run from February 15 to 23, incorporating two weekends to give even more visitors a chance to explore the lives of those who settled in the city.
Festival-goers also can look at how Vikings were perceived by other cultures around the world during their travels – sometimes trading, sometimes raiding.
The mainstay living history encampment in Parliament Street will provide a constant presence, with the smell of woodsmoke and fresh timber filling the air from demonstrations of Viking woodturning and metal work.
Event manager Gareth Henry, from the festival organisers, the Jorvik Viking Centre, says: “Weekends are by far the busiest time for the Jorvik Viking Festival, and incorporating two weekends makes the festival accessible to any families whose half-term holidays don’t align with those of York and North Yorkshire.
“We’re hoping that more people than ever before come along to experience a slice of our proud Norse heritage and enjoy the vast range of events on offer this year.”
Across the nine days, a host of events, activities, demonstrations and talks are available, many of them free of charge as part of the educational goals of York Archaeological Trust, the Jorvik Viking Centre owners.
“Being surrounded by all things Viking is a superb and fun way of learning about this remarkable culture,” says marketing manager Beth Dawes.
“Whether you spend time chatting to the re-enactors who repopulate the Viking city for us; attending lectures and expert talks; trying out new skills in a hands-on workshop, or even just watching the magnificent March To Coppergate through the city streets, everyone takes away something new when they visit.”
New for 2020 will be a Viking costume competition, looking to find the best-dressed Viking in York on Saturday, February 15 at 3pm on the festival’s St Sampson’s Square stage.
New too, a Trichinopoly workshop, teaching the art of Viking wire weaving on February 18, has sold out already.
A new route will be announced for the parade through the city centre, March to Coppergate, on Saturday, February 22, giving new opportunities to photograph around 200 costumed re-enactors as they walk through the city streets.
Full details of all the 2020 festival events are available online at jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk, where visitors can pre-book tickets for key events. Some events, including the Viking Banquet on February 15 and the night-time son-et-lumiere Battle Spectacular in the Land of Darkness, have sold out, so reservations for other activities and the lecture programme are recommended strongly.