THOSE pesky Vikings are invading again, promising battles and big beards, as Charles Hutchinson wrestles with what to do in half-term week.
Festival of the week: Jorvik Viking Festival 2023, today until February 19
SWORDS and seaxes are being sharpened, shields reinforced, beards groomed and tents prepared as York braces itself for the annual invasion of 9th century raiders, Norse warriors, craftspeople and traders in half-term week.
Welcoming 40,000 visitors each year, Europe’s largest Viking festival takes over the city centre with living history encampments, a combat-and-display arena and a Battle Spectacular on February 18, inspired by Arab writer Ibn Fadlan’s accounts of Viking traders.
Among further highlights will be the Best Beard Competition, today, 11am; Strongest Viking Competition, February 18, 11.15am; March To Coppergate, February 18, 1.30pm, from Dean’s Park; talks and lectures; crafting workshops and a traders’ market. Full details at: jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk
Festival Fringe event of the week: Mythos: Ragnarok, Jorvik Viking Festival, York Barbican, Friday, 7.30pm
MYTHOS: Ragnarok retells mythical tales of the apocalypse through wrestling, yes, wrestling, in a Fringe event new to the 2023 Viking festival programme, presented by Mythological Theatre and Phil McIntyre Live.
Half-brothers Odin and Loki must overcome primordial giants, rivals gods and goddesses and their own ambitions in their quest to seize power over the Nine Worlds through the grappling sport in Mythos’s York Barbican debut. Warning: Contains strobe lighting, scenes of violence, references to death, indirect sexual references, occasional bad language and actors specialising in professional wrestling skills. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Exhibition of the week: Marvellous And Mischievous, Literature’s Young Rebels, York Art Gallery, until June 4
OPENING just in time for half-term week, York Art Gallery presents the British Library’s touring exhibition of memorable characters from children’s literature.
Favourites such as Pippi Longstocking, Jane Eyre, Matilda, Dirty Bertie, Zog, Tracey Beaker, Peter Pan and Dennis the Menace feature in this exploration of characters who break the rules and defy conventions. Around 40 books, manuscripts and original artwork from 300 years of literary rebels, outsiders and spirited survivors will be complemented by an activity room with a busy programme of workshops and events.
Classical concert of the week: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm
YORK Guildhall Orchestra will be joined by Leeds Festival Chorus for the Angels’ Hallelujah Chorus, from the oratorio Christ On The Mount Of Olives in a wholly Beethoven night.
The Egmont Overture and Fidelio Overture and the Meeresstille und Glückliche Fahrt setting of two Goethe poems feature too before the climactic, gloriously melodious Symphony No. 9, “The Choral”, billed as “a real work out for orchestra, choir, and soloists” Anastasia Bevan, Sarah Winn, Sam Knock and Matthew Kellett. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Ukrainians in York: Dnipro Opera in Carmen, York Barbican, Sunday, 7pm
DNIPRO Opera, from Ukraine, perform Georges Bizet’s opera of fiery passion, jealousy and violence in 19th century Seville in French with English surtitles (CORRECT), to the accompaniment of a 30-strong orchestra.
Carmen charts the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who falls head over heels in love with Carmen, a seductive, free-spirited femme fatale, abandoning his childhood sweetheart and neglecting his military duties, only to lose the fickle firebrand to the glamorous toreador Escamillo. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Double act of the week: Told By An Idiot in Charlie & Stan, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm, plus 2pm, Thursday and 2,30pm, Saturday
IN 1910 the unknown Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel set sail for New York on a voyage of discovery as part of Fred Karno’s music hall troupe, sharing a cabin and then spending two years together touring North America, with Stan as Charlie’s understudy.
In a fantastical reimagining that plays fast and loose with the facts, Told By An Idiot tells the story of “the greatest comedy double act that nearly was” in Paul Hunter’s homage to the English comedy legends pre-fame, played out by Danielle (CORRECT) Bird’s Chaplin and Jerone (CORRECT) Marsh-Reid’s Laurel in the style of a silent comedy to a Zoe Rahman piano score. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Musical of the week: York Stage in Sweet Charity, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Tuesday to Sunday, 7.30pm, except Sunday; 2.30pm Saturday and Sunday matinees
THE John Cooper Studio will be transformed into a seedily seductive Fandango Ballroom from St Valentine’s Day for Sweet Charity, the 1966 Broadway musical with a book by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields.
Played by Katie Melia, Charity Hope Valentine fantasises about three things in life: romance, luxury and escaping the questionable ballroom clientele. Lovable, gullible and spirited, she longs to find a lover who can sweep her off her feet but Charity keeps handing over her heart and earnings to the wrong man. Hey big spender, box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Drag show of the week: Velma Celli, Pocklington Arts Centre, Thursday, 8pm
YORK drag queen supreme Velma Celli, alias West End musical actor Ian Stroughair, promises an overindulgent diva fiesta in celebration of the songs, mannerisms and behaviour of Mariah, Whitney, Aretha, Cher, Britney and many more.
Cue cheeky impressions, belting singing and saucy banter from the international star and creator of A Brief History Of Drag, Me And My Divas, Equinox and Irreplaceable (in praise of David Bowie). Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
In Focus: The Hole In Wand York on course for more magic at wizard visitor attraction
FORE! Watch out, The Hole In Wand York, the “World’s Most Magical Golf Course”, has a new woodland hole at the Potions Cauldron visitor attraction in the Coppergate Shopping Centre, York.
In a magical makeover, wands have been raised and spells cast to create The Forest Awakens hole and several additions for wizards to enjoy, including a new quest.
Opened last May, the award-winning mini golf venue also has upgraded the tavern area to help with the visitor flow and journey.
For The Forest Awakens, a hole based on the North York Moors National Park’s Dalby Forest, near Pickering, a new scent and soundtrack have been added to the room to create an immersive experience.
The hole places wizards among the trees as they aim for a hole in one, looked on by magical creatures of the darkened and mythical forest.
Chief Wizard Oliver Brayshaw says: “‘We’re excited to reveal the new holes; we know that our visitors are really going to enjoy them. Both Hole 6 and 7 are quite eerie but great fun.
“We have designed and built the holes and upgraded the tavern with the visitor journey in mind to ensure that everyone that visits has a fantastic experience.”
At The Hole In Wand York, in Coppergate Walk, wizard players take on nine magical golf holes. Along the “course” are bubbling cauldrons, magical portals and a giant picture frame where they become part of the painting. Visitors can do cast a Light Spell to illuminate the way in the dark hole and awaken the spirits.
At the end of the adventure, players will find out if they have the magical powers of a Serpent, Basilisk, Unicorn or Wizard. Every player will receive a magic potion gift to take home and hopefully find Grobblenook.
Wizard golf with a potion drink costs from £6.99 per person. The minimum age for players is three and the maximum group size is six wizards with wands. To book tickets, go to: theholeinwand.com/york