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.”
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.
- 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.