Thanks to my love of the TV series, The Last Kingdom, and my son learning all about Vikings at school, we’ve been reading a lot about life as a Viking. One way for us to learn more about Viking life is for us to visit York for the day and take in some of the JORVIK Viking Festival. The JORVIK Viking Festival happens every February, around half term and it’s a full on festival of all things Viking.
I’ve been wanting to go for a few years, but this year we are going for the day and I honestly can’t wait and neither can my 8 year old.
What’s On at the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival
This year the JORVIK Viking Festival will be taking place on 20 – 27 February 2019. It’s a family friendly festival and the largest event of its kind in Europe. There are historic encampments, talks, tours, combat displays and much more, all during half term week. So what’s on at the JORVIK Viking Festival?
Have-a-go sword (10am – 4pm daily, Spark:York – £5 per child)
The sword was one of the most important weapons for any Viking warrior, and training in its use started young! Skilled teachers will take children (aged 5 – 12) through basic training in fun battle workshops. Pre-booking is recommended.
Poo Day! (10am – 4pm, 20 and 27 February, DIG – included in entry)
Guaranteed to be germ-free, participants in Poo Day discover how important human waste is to understanding diet and health. Visitors will even have the chance to make their own replica poo fossil!
Little Diggers (10am, daily except Saturday, DIG – £5 per child)
Perfect for the youngest budding archaeologists in the family (ages 3 – 7), each day the Little Diggers team will help them explore treasures from the past, from Viking hoards to food and clothing.
Family walking tour (1pm, daily except Saturday, starts from JORVIK Viking Centre – £5 adult, £4 concession, £15 family)
With 4500 years of history to work with, this family friendly tour is packed with fascinating facts about York’s colourful past; led by one of JORVIK’s own Viking guides! Expect to hear about everyone from Roman Emperor Constantine and Eric Bloodaxe; to Robin Hood and King Arthur in this hour-long wander around the streets.
Viking Encampment (10am – 4pm daily, Parliament Street – free)
The Vikings were a people who liked to travel and they have set up a camp in Parliament Street for the week of the JORVIK Viking Festival. Meet traders and crafts people and get the chance to handle replica artifacts and weaponry in this interactive Norse experience at the heart of the city.
Birds of Prey at Barley Hall (10am – 5pm, 22 February, Barley Hall – included in entry)
Birds of prey featured heavily in Norse sagas and Viking mythology; get up close with these stunning creatures at Barley Hall. Meet a variety of ravens, owls and falcons in the medieval Great Hall, and learn about their significance to the Vikings in the accompanying exhibition. Visitors will also enjoy Seers and Shamans: Magic in the Viking Age, a special extension of Barley Hall’s Magic and Mystery exhibition.
Strongest Viking Competition (11am, 23 February, St Sampson’s Square – free)
Pick your champion and cheer them on in these trials of strength and endurance to find JORVIK’s strongest Viking! This annual competition pits warrior against warrior in a series of challenges that will leave muscles aching for days!
March to Coppergate (1.30pm, 23 February, starts from York Minster – free)
Watch a fearsome Viking army of over 200 warriors dressed in their finest combat gear parade through the streets of York. Watch them form a formidable column of combatants, making their way from York Minster to Coppergate, and on to the Eye of York.
Annual Best Beard Competition (3.00pm, 23 February, St Sampson’s Square – free)
Natural-grown, woolly, cardboard – young and old; male and female beards of every description are welcome to compete in this annual celebration of fabulous facial follicles! There are prizes and trophies for the best entries – voted by the audience – with participants registering on the day.
Battle Spectacular at Folkvangr Fields (6.45pm, 23 February, Eye of York – £15 adult, £11 concession, £44.50 family)
The biggest event during the annual JORVIK Viking Festival is the Battle Spectacular; featuring drama, music, combat and concluding with a stunning firework finale! Wrap up warm and take your place around the Eye of York, in the shadow of Clifford’s Tower. It’s an unforgettable evening where the forgotten sagas of the most extraordinary women in the Viking world are brought to life by a cast of over 100 warriors.