Interesting Articles, Interesting Places, Yorkshire

Return of the Vikings

The Ragnarsson brothers prepare for York's next Viking invasion (c) Charlotte Graham
The Ragnarsson brothers prepare for York’s next Viking Invasion at the JORVIK Voking Festival 2018 (c) Charlotte Graham

Seven years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Jorvik Viking Festival and ever since I have been dying to return. It has grown over the years to be one of the largest Norse-themed festivals in Europe, attracting over 40, 000 international visitors each year and providing education as well as a whole heap of fun for all ages.

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The December 2o15 floods that forced the Vikings of Jorvik attraction to close. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Some of you will no doubt remember the tragic flooding of York in 2015, which also unfortunately ruined much of the award winning Jorvik Viking centre. The new and improved centre opened in April 2017, and this northern winter the first viking festival since its reopening will be held.

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York Floods 2015 (Source: BBC.com)

This is a huge deal for everyone who has worked so hard to restore and renew the centre and for all of us keen viking and anglo saxon fans, but I am PARTICULARLY EXCITED for this coming festival as it will be using the initial invasion of York in 866/7 as the theme… complete with the three sons of Ragnar Lothbrok!

The following is from the festival’s official website at www.jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk  and I encourage you to check out the planned events for the festival, as well as look at the rest of the website. Although York is perhaps best known for the vikings, it has so much to offer from all periods in history.

It was 1 November 866 when the Vikings first invaded the Anglo-Saxon town of Eoforwic knowing that the local residents would be in church -without their weapons – celebrating the feast of All Saints.  Today, three brothers – Halfdan Ragnarsson, Ubba Ragnarsson and Ivarr the Boneless – returned to the city to start the countdown to the next Viking invasion – the JORVIK Viking Festival 2018, which runs 12 – 18 February 2018.

JORVIK Viking Festival is the largest Norse-themed festival in Europe, regularly attracting over 40,000 visitors to the historic city of York, and this year, the festival returns to the roots of the Vikings, telling the story of how their fearsome warriors first arrived in the Anglo-Saxon town, before settling and creating the city of Jorvik, the capital of Viking-age England.  Leading the charge in 2018 as in AD866 will be the three warrior brothers – Halfdan and Ubba Ragnarsson and Ivarr the Boneless.

“This is the first Festival since the JORVIK Viking Centre re-opened last April.  Whilst the story we tell within the attraction focuses on the peaceful trading hub that Jorvik had become nearly a century after they first invaded, this year for the Festival, our hordes of Viking warriors will face off against the established Anglo-Saxons as we tell the ‘origin’ story of Viking York,” comments marketing manager, Paul Whiting.

Entitled ‘Invasion: The Dawn of Viking York’, the 2018 Festival will feature many of the Festival’s trademark events, including the call to battle as the Viking hordes march from York Minster to Coppergate, a column of fearsome warriors stretching from one end of the city centre to the other (Saturday 17 February, from 1pm).  An encampment will run for the duration of the festival in Parliament Street, enabling visitors to get up close with the Vikings on the move, learning what they traded, the clothes that they wore and the sagas they shared around the fire.

The ultimate search for a Viking warrior returns to Coppergate Square on Saturday 17 February, with the annual Strongest Viking Competition – a mix of brute strength, bravado and bluster that thrills and entertains the crowds.  For those seeking to mix drama with a full belly, visitors can join the Great Viking Army Banquet on Friday 16 February as they celebrate conquering the North – and few armies throughout history have been quite as infamous for their celebrations as the Vikings!

World-renowned musician, Einar Selvik-Wardruna – whose music features in the TV series, The Vikings – will return for a concert in York’s Tempest Anderson Hall on Friday 16 February.

Bringing the Festival to a close will be the ultimate Festival Finale – a thrilling live-action battle, combining son-et-lumiere with pyrotechnics and an incredible battle-royale, where the stakes couldn’t be higher – the very future of the British Isles.  A cast of over 100 warriors takes to the Eye of York, in the shadow of Clifford’s Tower, for this ultimate commemoration of the Viking invasion which lay the foundations for the next 200 years of prosperity for the city.

Full details of all of the events in this year’s JORVIK Viking Festival are available online here.

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