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Viking Warriors and a Best Beard Competition – the Jorvik Viking Festival

Viking Warriors and a Best Beard Competition – the Jorvik Viking Festival

Every February York hosts its own Jorvik Viking Festival.  Usually cunningly timed to coincide with half term it’s a great one to take the kids to (or time your trip to York during).  If you scroll down the post, you can see my review from last year, but in the meantime, here is all the info for 2018!

Free fun at JORVIK Viking Festival

12-18 February 2018

With hundreds of Norse warriors due to start their annual invasion of York in a couple of weeks, the team behind JORVIK Viking Festival have revealed the best places to explore Viking culture completely free of charge.

“The recreations of Viking-age York have been enthralling visitors to JORVIK Viking Centre for over 30 years, and the Festival is a superb way of introducing visitors young and old to the story of the Viking city,” comments marketing manager, Paul Whiting. “During the Festival, we welcome experts from every corner of the globe to demonstrate their skills to visitors to the city – with an encampment in Parliament Street and saga storytelling in Coppergate throughout the week.”
The top five free events to see at this year’s JORVIK Viking Festival include:

• The Parliament Street Viking Encampment, which runs from Monday 12 – Saturday 17 February. A chance to see how Vikings on the move would have lived, with an encampment and opportunities to talk to re-enactors and craftsmen, and see weaponry and armour up close.

• Stories and saga- telling in Coppergate (Mon 12 – Sat 17 February). A special stage will be set up in the square outside JORVIK Viking Centre with regular tales of invasion, battle and heroic deeds. Sessions daily from 10am to 4pm.

• The annual Strongest Viking Competition (Saturday 17 February, 10am) in Coppergate Square. There’s more to being a warrior than brute strength – watch as the competitors use bragging and occasionally underhanded techniques to put off their opponents in a bid to take home the coveted Strongest Viking trophy!

• March to Coppergate (Saturday 17 February, starting at Dean’s Park at 1pm). Hundreds of Viking warriors muster in the shadow of York Minster before processing through the city streets to Coppergate – a column of Vikings that stretches as far as the eye can see. The route passes through Petergate, Stonegate, Davygate and Coney Street before crossing Coppergate into the Coppergate Centre.

• The Best Beard Competition (Saturday 17 February, 3pm in Coppergate). The audience is the star of the show at the Best Beard Competition, with genuine facial hair competing against novelty hand-crafted beards – previous entrants have been made from cardboard, wool, fake fair and even human hair! Compete or spectate – the choice is yours!

“Of course, we have a host of other events taking place, too – with daily have-a-go archery and sword combat in our Parliament Street marquee, a Viking animal steading with birds of prey at DIG in St Saviourgate, and a host of other interactive events and talks,” adds Paul. “Anyone wanting tickets to our finale event will need to hurry, though – we’re expecting to sell out soon, so no tickets will be available to purchase on the day.”

For more information on all of the events in this year’s JORVIK Viking Festival, please visit


Review from the 2017 Jorvik Viking Festival

One of the stalls demonstrated traditional wood working methods.  Miss H loved the Viking animals last year too.  All the Vikings are surprisingly friendly (no pillaging here) and are happy to talk about their lives and customs.

Have a Go Sword Combat

Make sure you keep an eye on the Festival website for details of all the events in the festival (and there are lots!).  Next year we plan to take part in the ‘Have a Go Sword Combat’ which is right up Master T’s street, as well as ‘Have a Go Archery’.  There are walking tours, lectures and workshops as well as traders, storytelling and a Viking Banquet Experience (LOVE the sound of this!).  There’s lots for the age 2-5 bracket too with special ‘Little Diggers’ play and learn sessions. 

Coppergate Encampment

These delicious looking (and smelling!) burgers and sausages can be found at the Coppergate encampment.

Viking Helmets and Shields

There are stands dotted around the city of lusty looking Vikings.  On one stand we were encouraged to try out Viking helmets and shields.  This picture is from my camera phone from last year and is a bit fuzzy but I love it nonetheless.

Bloodaxe’s Last Stand – Jorvik Viking Festival Finale

On the penultimate day you can find the Annual Strongest Viking Competition, Best Beard Competition and the Festival Finale – Bloodaxe’s Last Stand – a “Thrilling live battle action awaits you as Eric Bloodaxe fights for his life at an extraordinary display of living history with hundreds of Viking warriors taking to the field.”


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