That Jorvik Viking Thing online festival will peak with day of live-streaming on Saturday

Late addition: Lindy-Fay Hella will discuss scents, plant essences, myths and storytelling in a live-stream tomorrow. Picture: Raina Vlaskovska and May Husb

THE finale to York’s six-day online festival, That Jorvik Viking Thing, will be an ambitious afternoon and evening of live-streaming on Saturday.

Ancient meets ultramodern in the challenging task faced by the team behind this week’s event, who will play host to a “truly international and extraordinary Norse-themed broadcast from 12 noon”.

Billed as the world’s largest-ever online Viking festival, That Jorvik Viking Thing has been organised by the Jorvik Viking Centre as an alternative to the Coppergate visitor attraction’s usual February half-term activities. 

Introduced by York Mix Radio presenter Ben Fry and three members of Jorvik Viking Centre’s interpretation and collections teams, Lucas Norton, Rachel Cutler and Becky Sampson, the day will mix live presentations and Q&A sessions from Jorvik, with links to other Viking attractions around the world, including Dublinia in Dublin and Lofoten Viking Museum in Norway. 

York’s Viking village at Murton Park will feature in the day too, contributing a live wood-working project that will be revisited throughout the broadcast, alongside some pre-recorded films being worked into the show. 

Event manager Gareth Henry says: “We were fortunate to be able to film a host of videos for the Thing while lockdown restrictions were lifted in the autumn, including our fun film, Arnor’s Adventure, and our daily chapters of the Saga Of Revr The Sly, which have been released each day during the Thing since Monday.

“We had hoped to be able to broadcast this day live from a fully populated Viking village; sadly the Norns* were against us, but we are pleased that we can still manage some socially-distanced filming from the village.”  

Einar Selvik: Norse musician will take part in the closing event of That Jorvik Viking Thing on Saturday

The live-streamed day will be the penultimate event in That Jorvik Viking Thing’s programme that will conclude at 7.30pm with international Nordic folk musician Einar Selvik deep in conversation with music journalist Alexander Milas.

Selvik composed the music for the History Channel’s Vikings series and the Assassins Creed: Valhalla game soundtrack, and his latest album with his band Wardruna, Kvitravn, topped the iTunes chart on release in January.

On Saturday, Selvik will discuss Norse music, demonstrate assorted instruments and perform acoustic versions of a selection of his songs. Tickets cost £15 at jorvikthing.com.

In a last-minute addition to the Thing’s programme tomorrow (19/2/2021), Selvik’s Wardruna bandmate, Lindy-Fay Hella, will be joined by Christina Oakley Harrington, founder of London bookshop Treadwells, and herbalist Johanna Elf to discuss scents, plant essences, myths and storytelling in a free live-stream at 8pm, accessible through jorvikthing.com.

So far, That Jorvik Viking Thing and its educational preview during Schools Week, have drawn more than 20,000 visitors to the website to watch more than 2,500 hours of video content. Some live-streams are still attracting audiences, not least the fun Poo Day, prompting Twitter to be flooded with images of home-made Viking worm-infested poo. 

The most popular video is a free 360-degree tour of Viking-age Coppergate that can even be viewed using a VR headset for a fully immersive experience.

For more information, or to access the array of video-on-demand resources, visit jorvikthing.com

*Who are the Norns?

In Norse mythology, the Norns are female beings who rule the destiny of Gods and men.

Chart-topping Nordic musician Einar Selvik to take part in That Jorvik Viking Thing’s most ambitious online event on Saturday UPDATED 20/2/2021

Einar Selvik: Discussing Norse music, demonstrating instruments and playing songs at That Jorvik Viking Thing online event on Saturday

OUT goes Europe’s largest Viking festival, the Jorvik Viking Festival, banished from York by Lockdown 3 restrictions. In comes That Jorvik Viking Thing, the world’s largest online Viking festival, organised by York Archaeological Trust.

So named as a nod to “Thing” being “a Viking public assembly”, the half-term remote event adds up to six days of new online content and live broadcasts, climaxing in An Evening With Einar Selvik, chart-topping Nordic musician and Jorvik Viking Centre enthusiast, on Saturday.

At 7.30pm that night, the Wardruna front-man will be in conversation with producer, filmmaker and journalist Alexander Milas, discussing Norse music, demonstrating instruments such as the taglharpa, and performing songs, buoyed by his band’s latest album, Kvitravn (White Raven), topping the iTunes chart in late-January.

Ticket holders are invited to send questions for a live question-and-answer session too, and such questions may even stretch to asking Einar about providing the soundtrack for the History Channel’s Vikings series and composing the music for the latest Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla game, released last November.

“As I’m an enthusiast for the festival, it feels great to be able to contribute, especially in these strange times,” says Einar Selvik

Einar is no stranger to the Jorvik Viking Festival. “I’ve performed there and done lectures there,” he says, recalling his sold-out events in “maybe 2017 and 2018”. “I really enjoy York as a city and I love the atmosphere during the festival,” he says.

“I do enjoy the ride at Jorvik Viking Centre – I’ve been there a few times – and maybe it’s best that the famous odour is confined to one space!”

Now comes his Jorvik Viking Festival online debut. “I was contacted, I guess it was a few months ago, by the organisers, asking if I’d be up for doing something: some sort of performance, if I’d be open to that idea.

“As I’m an enthusiast for the festival, it feels great to be able to contribute, especially in these strange times.”

Chart-toppers: Einar Selvik’s band, Wardruna. Picture: Kim Ohrling

Saturday’s online event can be viewed from all four corners of the globe, one of the changes that the pandemic has brought to arts and culture. “Absolutely that’s a good thing,” says Einar.

“Once all this started happening last year, first there was a lot of disappointment, but it’s up to us to think differently, to find a constructive and positive focus and look at the possibilities of what we can do. That’s the only way of coping and surviving.”

Einar’s band, Wardruna, last performed to a live audience in December 2019. “We were supposed to be doing our tour right after the first lockdown, when we were supposed to be playing the UK,” he says.

“The album was originally going to be released in early June last year, doing the tour of the UK in the following weeks, which has since been pushed to this spring, but that’s not likely now, and we’ll probably have to rearrange again, when Manchester will be the nearest place to York we’ll be playing.”

Artwork for Wardruna’s January album, Kvitravn

Kvitravn was completed in mid-March, before lockdown restrictions were imposed in Scandinavia, and the album release was delayed subsequently by the production plant being closed, but Einar believes that delay has turned out to be serendipitous. “I often get that question, leading up to a release, about ‘don’t you think the timing is risky?’, when you want to support it with concerts,” he says.

“But people have now adapted to new ways over the past year, they’re spending more time at home, and judging by the responses we’ve had people are really grateful to have something new for these times.”

What’s more, Einar’s songs on Kvitravn address both human nature and nature against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic and climate change. “I do feel the album is on the brink of being almost prophetic,” he says. “Even though it addresses themes that were relevant pre-Covid, everything is amplified by what’s happening now.

“If you go back and make connections with various cultures, and you connect with wild animals and white ravens, like I do, when you look at the prophecies connected with them, you find that those prophecies are very often connected to renewal or great change, so there’s great hope in that album title.”

Einar Selvik: Wardruna front-man plays lyre, taglharpa, flute, goat horn, lur, drums and percussion

Einar continues: “The raven is an animal I have a totemic relationship with, which is why I chose that for myself. But although this album is in a sense more personal and more down to earth than before, it’s also quite obscure.

“I delve into the philosophical, the esoteric, the Nordic myths and how these old traditions define human nature and nature itself. So, the white raven was not chosen as the title because of my name, but more due to the ideas which inspired me to take that name in the first place.”

Einar, whose lyrics combine Norwegian with Old Norse, describes Kvitravn as being “a visual landscape”. “I do think that the music speaks on its own, even though it’s in this Norse and Nordic wrapping. The instruments, the themes, are timeless, so I think that’s one of the reasons people react to it very personally,” he says.

“But the lyrical side is a very important ingredient too, which is why, at least on the physical versions, we do include an English translation if you want to connect on that level.”

“The raven is such a central creature in Nordic traditions, being seen as a message between here and beyond,” says Einar

“The raven is such a central creature in Nordic traditions, being seen as a message between here and beyond, and as the animal embodiment of the human mind and body, so almost human within nature, I guess, on many levels.”

Einar has had experiences with ravens, both in his waking hours and in the world of dreams. “They are such strong symbols, representing nature and how it speaks through you in your own symbolic language that’s connected to your intuition, whether in actual encounters with ravens or in dreams,” he says.   

Einar, whose lyrics combine Norwegian with Old Norse, describes Kvitravn as being “a visual landscape”. “I do think that the music speaks on its own, even though it’s in this Norse and Nordic wrapping. The instruments, the themes, are timeless, so I think that’s one of the reasons people react to it very personally,” he says.

“But, for me, the poetry and lyrical side is a very important ingredient too, which is why, at least on the physical versions, we do include an English translation if you want to connect on that level.

Alexander Milas: Producer, filmmaker and journalist hosting Einar Selvik’s online event at That Jorvik Viking Thing

“In terms of language, I have quite a playful approach to it, where I combine Norwegian with Old Norse and Proto Norse, a language from before the Viking age. It’s almost Germanic.”

Einar grew up steeped in traditional music, Norse music and metal music. “For several years I played in metal bands, but I would say I was quite done with metal on a personal level in my mid-teens,” he says. “From then, it was more of a job and the desire to do something that was more in keeping with my passions grew stronger and stronger.”

Does he see any common ground between metal music and Wardruna’s music? “Metal has always drawn a lot from Nordic culture and ideology, but I really wanted to do something where they were treated more in their own right, not just playing with it for an album cover or lyrics, but for the tonality too,” says Einar.

“I guess there are connections between metal and Norse music in that lots of melodies in Scandinavian traditional music are quite dark, like in metal.”

Einar’s childhood days were spent on the Norwegian island of Osteroy. “It’s a fairly large inland island with a fjord surrounding it, and I guess your surroundings will always affect you. Growing up amid this postcard imagery, it definitely cultivated a profound sense of appreciation of nature,” he says.

“‘Nature’ instruments have a will of their own as they’re a living thing,” says Einar Selvik of the taglharpa, a bowed instrument made with horse hair

“I also grew up with lots of stories from the past, where you can connect them with the landscapes and what happened there 1,500 years ago. In hindsight, it gave me a sense of place and a place in time.”

Looking forward to Saturday’s streamed show, Einar says: “Alexander Milas will host the event, where I’ll talk with him a little about the context of each song and about the tools I use, the instrumentation, what we know and what we think we know about them. And, of course, the best way of demonstrating an instrument is to put it to use in a song.”

Einar will find time for questions from the online audience too, but here is one in advance: what is the taglharpa instrument? “It’s basically a bowed lyre, and in Scandinavia it’s the oldest bowed instrument we know of,” he says.

“Taglharpa means ‘horse hair’, which is what it’s made out of, though when I perform, I sometimes use metal strings for practical reasons because horse hair is really weather sensitive when you’re playing outside, which is the case with a lot of ‘nature’ instruments. They have a will of their own as they’re a living thing.”

An Evening With Einar Selvik, That Jorvik Festival Thing online, Saturday, 7.30pm. For £15 tickets, go to: jorvikthing.com. Wardruna’s album, Kvitravn, is available on Sony Music/Columbia Germany.

Story copyright of The Press, York

More Things To Do in and around York and at home in 2021, whatever barriers may yet lie ahead. List No 23, courtesy of The Press

Grayson Perry: Two shows in York in 2021; one an exhibition of “Lost Pots” at York Art Gallery, the other, his existentialist gig, A Show For Normal People, at York Barbican

AFTER a year where killjoy Covid-19 re-wrote the arts and events diary over and over again, here comes 2021, when the pandemic will still have a Red Pen influence.

Armed with a pantomime fairy’s magic wand rather than Madame Arcati’s crystal ball from Blithe Spirit, when what we need is a jab in the arm pronto, Charles Hutchinson picks out potential highlights from the New Year ahead that York will start in Tier 3.

Velma Celli: Had planned to present A Brief History Of Drag at Theatre @41 Monkgate in January; now heading online at home instead

Back on screen: Velma Celli, Large & Lit In Lockdown Again, streaming on January 8

AFTER his “Fleshius Creepius” panto villain in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk, Ian Stroughair was planning to pull on his drag rags for a live Velma Celli show in January, and maybe more shows to follow, at his adopted winter home of Theatre @41 Monkgate.

Instead, he writes: “Darlings, as we head back into a lockdown in York, I am back on the streaming! My first show is next Friday at 8pm. I would love you to join me for an hour of camp cabaret fun! Get those requests and shout-outs in!” Tickets for Virtual Velma start at £10 via http://bit.ly/3nVaa4N; expect an online show every Friday from Ian’s new riverside abode.

Shed Seven: Headlining all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, in the summer

Open-air one-off event of the summer: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, June 26

FRESH from releasing live album Another Night, Another Town as a reminder of what everyone has had to miss in 2020, Shed Seven have confirmed their Piece Hall headliner in Halifax has been rearranged for next summer.

The Sheds have picked an all-Yorkshire support bill of Leeds bands The Wedding Present and The Pigeon Detectives and fast-rising fellow York act Skylights. For tickets, go to lunatickets.co.uk or seetickets.com.

Cocktail Party 1989, copyright of Grayson Perry/Victoria Miro, from the Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years exhibition, opening at CoCA, York Art Gallery, in May

Most anticipated York exhibition of 2021: Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, York Art Gallery, May 28 to September 5

CHANNEL 4’s  champion of people’s art in lockdown, Grayson Perry, will present his Covid-crocked 2020 exhibition of “lost pots” at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) next spring and summer instead.

The Pre-Therapy Years reassembles Perry’s earliest forays into ceramics; 70 “explosive and creative works” he made between 1982 and 1994. Look out too for the potter, painter, TV presenter and social commentator’s existentialist September 6 gig at York Barbican: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, wherein he will “distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can”.

Chris Moreno: No festive cheer at Christmas, but now he looks forward to presenting The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime, Aladdin, on Knavesmire, York, in spring 2021

A pantomime in the spring? Yes, The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime in a tent on Knavesmire, York, March 19 to April 11

CHRIS Moreno, director of Three Bears’ Productions four pantomimes at the Grand Opera House from 2016 to 2019, will direct York’s first ever “tentomime”, Aladdin, this spring with a cast of “21 colourful characters”.

The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime will be presented in the luxurious, heated Tented Palace, Knavesmire, in a socially distanced configuration compliant with Covid-19 guidance.

The big top will have a capacity of 976 in tiered, cushioned seating, while the stage will span 50 metres, comprising a palace façade, projected scenery and magical special effects. Look out for the flying carpets.

Going solo: Julie Hesmondhalgh in The Greatest Play In The History Of The World at York Theatre Royal from February 16

Falling in love again with theatre: The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, February 14 to April 21

ON December 15, York Theatre Royal announced plans to reopen on St Valentine’s Day for The Love Season, with the audience capacity reduced from 750 to a socially distanced 345.

Full details will be confirmed in the New Year with tickets going on sale on January 8, and that remains the case, says chief executive Tom Bird, after hearing yesterday afternoon’s statement to the House of Commons by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“We’re carrying on with our plans, including presenting Coronation Street and Broadchurch actor Julie Hesmondhalgh in husband Ian Kershaw’s one-woman play, The Greatest Play In The History Of The World, from February 16 to 20,” he confirmed.

Van Morrison: A brace of bracing nights at York Barbican in May

Six of the best at York Barbican in 2021

YORK Barbican has remained closed since the March lockdown, foregoing even the UK Snooker Championships in November and December.

A reopening date is yet to be announced but mark these shows in your diary, if only in pencil: Rob Brydon, A Night Of Songs & Laughter, April 14; Jimmy Carr, Terribly Funny, May 2; country duo The Shires, May 23; Van Morrison, May 25 and 26; Paul Weller, June 29, and Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow The Rules Tour, October 13.

Ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel: Looking forward to the 20th anniversary of York Open Studios

Anniversary celebration of the year: York Open Studios, April 17 and 18; 24 and 25, 10am to 5pm

2020 turned into a virtual Open Studios with displays online and in windows, but already 140 artists and makers are confirmed for the 20th anniversary event in the spring when they will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces.

Many of 2020’s selected artists have deferred their space to 2021, but new additions will be announced soon, the website teases. “We’re channelling the optimism and enthusiasm from all our artists to ensure this year’s 20th show is one of the best,” says event co-founder and ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel.

Dr Delma Tomlin: Administrative director of the 2021 York Early Music Festival, running from July 9 to 17

And what about?

Festivals galore, as always, in the self-anointed “City of Festivals”. Coming up are the Jorvik Viking Festival; York Fashion Week; York Literature Festival; York Early Music Festival; York Festival of Ideas, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and more besides. 

Liberation Day arrives on Saturday, but Lockdown is still a block to theatres and gigs. Nevertheless, here are More Things To Do on days in and days out, courtesy of The Press, York. LIST No. 9

Opening the gateway to venturing outdoors once more….

JULY 4 is “Liberation Day”, apparently, but not for theatres and concert halls. They can re-open, not for live performances, however, leaving them in a state of inertia that only exacerbates their growing crisis.

As for cinemas, tipped to return to life next weekend, the consensus is that July 31 is now looking the more likely re-start date for the summer blockbusters.

This column will steer clear of the pubs and bars and restaurants making their comebacks – you can read of that welcome uptick elsewhere – but focus on the widening opportunities for entertainment, enlightenment and exercise beyond the front door, while still highlighting the joys on the home front too.

CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these suggestions.

Back on track: Jorvik Viking Centre is “Good To Go” from next Saturday

Jorvik Viking Centre, re-opening on July 11

THE ever-resilient Jorvik Viking Centre is back on track from next Saturday with the Good To Go certification from Visit England, so all the boxes marked Government and industry Covid-19 guidelines have been ticked.

One important change is a switch to pre-booked visits only, with designated time slots every 20 minutes, to help control visitor flow and numbers, as well as extended hours over the summer months.

Within the building, in Coppergate, free-flow areas, such as the galleries will be more structured with presentations delivered by Viking interpreters, rather than video content or handling sessions.

Lutenist Elizabeth Kenny: Joining countertenor Iestyn Davies at a socially distanced National Centre for Early Music for York Early Music Festival online concert

York Early Music Festival, online from July 9 to 11

NEXT week’s “virtual” three-day event will be streamed online from the National Centre for Early Music, replacing the July 3 to 11 festival that would have celebrated Method & Madness. Concerts will be recorded at the NCEM’s home, St Margaret’s Church, in Walmgate, with social-distancing measures in place and no live audience.

York counter-tenor Iestyn Davies and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny present The Art Of Melancholy on July 9 at 7.30pm, when John Dowland’s Elizabethan music will be complemented by Davies’s renditions and readings of poetry by Robert Burton, Michael Drayton, Rose Tremain, Leo Tolstoy and Dowland himself.

On July 10, online concerts feature lute and theorbo player Matthew Wadsworth at 1pm, harpsichordist Steve Devine at 3.30pm and lyra viol player Richard Boothby at 7.30pm. July 11’s programme includes Consone Quartet at 1pm and Stile Antico at 7.30pm.

Tickets are on sale at tickets.ncem.co.uk and boxoffice@ncem.co.uk, with a festival package at £30, individual concert tickets at £10 each and illustrated talks at £3.50 each.

Richard Bainbridge RIP: York Musical Theatre Company will mark the first anniversary of his passing on Sunday

Remembering Richard, York Musical Theatre Company, Sunday, 7.30pm, online

YORK Musical Theatre Company will mark the first anniversary of leading light Richard Bainbridge’s exit stage left on Sunday with a special online memorial concert.

Streamed on YMTC’s YouTube channel, the 7.30pm programme will celebrate Richard’s theatrical life with songs from all the shows he loved and the many he graced with the company.

Taking part will be Eleanor Leaper; Matthew Ainsworth; John Haigh; Florence Taylor; Moira Murphy; Amy Lacy; Rachel Higgs; Peter Wookie; Matthew Clare; Chris Gibson; Helen Singhateh, Jessa & Mick Liversidge. Returning to the ranks will be professional York actor Samuel Edward-Cook, alias Sam Coulson in his YMTC days.

Joker: One of the films at the Daisy Duke’s Drive-In Cinema in York

Daisy Duke’s Drive-In Cinema, Knavesmire, York, tomorrow to Sunday

STATIC cinemas remain in the dark, but drive-in cinemas with social distancing rules in place have been given the Government green light.

North Easterners Daisy Duke’s Drive-In Cinema are revving up for four screenings a day. Take your pick from the very familiar Mamma Mia!, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, Frozen 2, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Greatest Showman, A Star Is Born, 28 Days Later, Pulp Fiction and Joker. Tickets can be booked at dukescinema.epizy.com.

Interaction between staff and customers will be kept to a minimum, with cars parked two metres apart and those attending expected to remain within their vehicles for the duration of the screenings on LED screens with the sound transmitted to car radios.

Ready for a reading challenge? Here comes The Silly Squad

The Silly Squad, Explore York Libraries’ Summer Reading Challenge 2020, July 10 to September 18

GIVEN that Explore York’s libraries “aren’t open fully yet”, The Silly Squad Challenge is going virtual this summer, enabling children to take part online. There will be activities to do too, all on the same theme of fun, laughter and silliness.

The Silly Squad is a team of animal friends that loves to go on adventures and get stuck into all manner of funny books. This year, the Challenge features extra special characters designed by the author and illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson.

The Silly Squad website provides an immersive and safe environment for children to achieve their reading goals. Head to Explore’s website and join through the Summer Reading Challenge button.

Paul Weller: York Barbican in 2021; new album tomorrow

Keep seeking out the good news

NO Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad at York Theatre Royal from July 14, and Everybody’s no longer Talking About Jamie at Leeds Grand Theatre that week too. Even the Downing Street daily briefings are off after all the unintended humour of 24 episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour.

However, all’s Weller that’s Paul Weller as the Modfather’s autumn 2020 gig at York Barbican is moved to June 29 2021. In the meantime, his new album, On Sunset, is out tomorrow.

Drag diva Velma Celli, the creation of York actor Ian Stroughair, has announced another online outing, The Velma Celli Show, Kitchen, on July 11 at 8pm.

Kitchen sing drama: York drag diva Velma Celli announces latest online show on the home front

And what about…?

BBC One revisiting Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues, each one even starker in their isolation in these dislocated times of solitary confinement, shielding, loneliness and finding other people irritating. The Leeds playwright, now 86, has added two ones to his 1988 collection. “Quite bleak,” he says.

New albums by Neil Young (“new” but unearthed 1970s’ recordings); Jessie Ware, Nadine Shah and Haim.

Scarborough Art Gallery unlocking its doors from this weekend. A walk on York’s city walls with its new temporary one-way system in place for social distancing from Saturday….and then drop down for a drink at Grays Court Hotel’s new walled garden bar, in the shadow of York Minster.

Or a walk along Pocklington Canal, but watch out for the two swans, guarding their nine cygnets by the water’s edge.

Anyone for Dennis? Jorvik Viking Festival makes plans with storm sequel brewing

Storm brewing but the Vikings can handle a little disturbance at the upcoming festival

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.

The best things in Viking life are free at Jorvik Viking Festival. Here’s why…

Best Beard Competition: men, women, children and even dogs can compete at the 2020 Jorvik Viking Festival

WHAT are the best ways to see the Vikings for free at the 2020 Jorvik Viking Festival from February 15 to 23?

Families on a budget visiting the York festival can enjoy a taste of Viking life without breaking the bank, say the organisers, who are providing a host of events throughout the nine days free of charge.

Run by the York Archaeological Trust charity, the celebration of all things Norse takes over the city centre for the February half-term holiday.

Accessibility and education are at the heart of the trust’s aims, prompting festival manager Gareth Henry to explain the importance of having a mix of free and priced events. “Sharing stories about York’s past has been a huge part of what the trust has done over the past four decades,” he says.

“While we have to charge to off-set the costs for some of our events, we’re always keen to make sure there’s plenty to see and do that is completely free of charge, including the most impressive annual parade in York.”

Eric Bloodaxe catches up on the history of the Vikings in a book-reading session

The 2020 Jorvik Viking Festival free events are:

  • The Viking Encampment in Parliament Street, running daily throughout the festival from 10am to 4pm. Meet re-enactors, historic interpreters and traditional craftspeople in their living history encampment at the heart of the city.  Everyone has their own tale to tell, so take time to watch them working and listen to them sharing stories of their lives and wares.
  • Sagas on the St Sampson’s Square Stage at regular intervals each day; times will be published on a blackboard each day. Listen to heroes, explorers and settlers as they relate their stories and watch them demonstrate the battle techniques that helped to create their reputation as fearsome warriors.
  • Inaugural Viking Costume Competition, open to the public to take part at St Sampson’s Square Stage, February 15, from 3pm.The Vikings were clean, well groomed and often well dressed as a display of wealth and status.  Don’t merely watch the Vikings strut their stuff; join in!  Fashion a Viking throw or tunic out of an old blanket, scarf or top, make a cardboard shield and, hey presto, the Viking catwalk awaits.
  • The Annual Strongest Viking Competition, St Sampson’s Square Stage, February 22, 11am. Feats of endurance and strength abound as Viking competes against Viking to be proclaimed the strongest of York’s warriors.  Choose your champion and cheer them on.
Vikings on the march through York
  • The Bloodaxe Reading Challenge. Particularly good for local children, the challenge to read as many books as you can before the festival has been set up in association with Explore Libraries.  It gives the chance to win tickets to meet award-winning author Hilary Robinson as she launches her new book Jasper: Viking Dog at York Explore on February 12.
  • The Best Beard Competition, St Sampson’s Square Stage, February 22, 3pm. Beards of all description are welcome, from naturally grown to man-made, in a competition open to men, women, children and even dogs. Free entry, plus the chance to win prizes.
  • March to Coppergate, leaving from Dean’s Park, by York Minster, on February 22 at 1.30pm, when the city streets will be filled with Vikings of all ages, social status and profession as their war cries echo around the city centre. More than 200 Vikings are expected to march down to Coppergate, finishing at the Eye of York in a display of costume, weaponry and Viking style.  

Details of all the events at this year’s Jorvik Viking Festival can be found at jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk.

2020 Jorvik Viking Festival is all talk in York next month. Here come the experts

Viking reproduction gold rings at the Jorvik Viking Festival

HORDES of Norse academics will descend on York during the 36th Jorvik Viking Festival, armed with fresh news of the Viking world.

During the February 15 to 23 festival run, lectures and talks will explore the concept of a single common European-wide market enjoyed by the Vikings, the remarkable voyage of replica ship The Viking and the latest discoveries at Trondheim.

The programme of talks has been compiled by Dr Chris Tuckley, head of interpretation for York Archaeological Trust.  “Jorvik Viking Festival is attended by Norse enthusiasts from around the world, from children getting their first taste of Viking culture, to academics who have devoted their lives to learning more about our Scandinavian ancestors,” he says.

“So, alongside the colourful hands-on events and presentations, we always host a series of talks and lectures that are accessible to a wide range of people, from enthusiastic amateur historians to leading names in the worlds of archaeology and research.”

Talks for 2020 include:

  • Home & Away: Fashion and identity in the Viking Age, presented by Dr Gareth Williams, of the British Museum, on February 18 at 7pm at the Jorvik Viking Centre.

This talk will explore how fashion varied across the Viking world, including how it fused with other styles as the Vikings explored the globe.  Tickets cost £25.

Here come the Vikings
  • The Helen Thirza Addyman Lecture by Chris McLees, archaeologist and researcher at Trondheim, a 10th century Viking trading settlement, on February 19 at 7pm at Fountains Lecture Theatre, York St John University. 

 This lecture will present the archaeology of this important place on the northern periphery of the Viking and medieval worlds, including the results of excavations at sites associated with the renowned late-Viking kings Olav Haraldsson (St Olav) and Harald Hardrada. Tickets are £10 for adults, £8 for concessions.

  • Looking for Jet in A Dark Place,  by Sarah Steele, consultant geologist for Whitby Museum, who explores the trade in black jet around the Viking world at the Jorvik Viking Centre on February 20 at 7pm.

The mineral of jet, which requires extreme global warming to form, was traded as far afield as Greenland, yet remains notoriously difficult to identify in the archaeological record.  Attendees will learn how modern technology may soon appreciate fully  the scope of Whitby Jet’s trade during the medieval period.  Tickets cost £25.

All of these events build up to the Richard Hall Symposium, closing the festival on February 23 in the De Grey Lecture Theatre at York St John University.

The theme of that day’s talks will be A Single Market for Goods and Services? , Travel and Trade in the Viking World, with experts including Professor Lesley Abrams, of Oxford University, Dr Gareth Williams, from the British Museum, Dr Jane Kershaw, of the School of Archaeology at Oxford University, and Maria Nørgaard, project leader at Vikinger på Rejse, Denmark. 

For more details on all the talks and presentations at the 2020 Jorvik Viking Festival, visit jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk.

Could York’s 2020 Jorvik Viking Festival be the most stylish ever? Here’s why…

Close-up of Viking clasps being worn at the Jorvik Viking Festival in York

YORK’S Norse settlers will aim to be the most stylish Vikings in the world when the 2020 Jorvik Viking Festival runs from February 15 to 23.

Event manager Gareth Henry explains how this might be achieved: “The Vikings cared about their appearance and personal hygiene. Combs to keep their hair and beards in order were prized possessions carved out of bone and sometimes beautifully decorated, while beautiful beads and jewellery were a sign of wealth and status,” he says.

“During the festival, you’ll see many superb examples of adornments on the clothing of the re-enactors who come to take part.”

At next month’s nine-day festival, visitors can join costumed interpreters in showing off their Viking style with a number of events aimed at creating and expressing traditional Norse style:

  • Viking Costume Competition, St Sampson’s Square, February 15, 3pm. Open to the public, a judging panel will consider those who believe they are York’s best dressed, with Viking and Viking-inspired fashion welcome to take to the main stage for the ultimate Project Norseway. An expert panel of judges will share their views on the best male, female and children’s Viking attire in this free event.
  • Best Beard Competition, St Sampson’s Square, February 22, 3pm. A traditional favourite, where the audience chooses the best facial hair on show.  Open to men, women, children and this year, for the first time, bearded canines, expect some genuine chin growth, re-purposed head tresses and even some man-made creations as competitors vie for the coveted trophies.
  • Trichinopoly. Not some kind of Viking board game, but the art of wire weaving to create jewellery and adornments by one of Jorvik Viking Centre’s team of historic educators.  The workshops run on Tuesday,  February 18, 2pm to 5pm, and Wednesday, February 19, 10am to 1pm, in the York Medical Society on Stonegate, priced at £30 per person, including all materials and refreshments.
  • An adult leather-working workshop. This will introduce participants to some of the skills required to make simple leather items inspired by archaeological finds from Coppergate.  The session takes place on Tuesday, February 20 from 10am to 12 noon at the York Medical Society on Stonegate.
  • Home & Away: Fashion and identity in the Viking Age, Jorvik Viking Centre, Tuesday, February 18, 7pm to 8.30pm. Presented by Dr Gareth Williams, of the British Museum, whose talk will explore how fashion varied across the Viking world, including how it fused with other styles as the Vikings explored the globe.  Tickets cost £25.

The use of black jet in Viking jewellery will be explored by Sarah Steele, of Ebor Jetworks, during the symposium that rounds off the festival on Sunday, February 23 with a series of talks and presentations on the latest Viking research around the world.

For more information on events during the 2020 Jorvik Viking Festival, and to book tickets, visit jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk.

Jorvik Viking Festival organisers seek record crowds with two weekends to enjoy

The Vikings are coming as the largest festival of its kind returns to York next month. All pictures: Charlotte Graham

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. 

Shield Maidens at the 2019 Jorvik Viking Festival

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.”

Strong Viking women at last year’s Jorvik Viking Festival

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.”

Voyaging Vikings ahoy: the 36th Jorvik Viking Festival in York is fast approaching

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.