Last month I reported on the hugely important and impressive Watlington Hoard going on display at the JORVIK Centre in York in time for the annual Viking festival. The festival, already one of the most exciting events on York’s calendar, seemed to be the biggest and best one yet.

One of the largest Viking Festivals in Europe, JORVIK celebrates the Norse heritage of the city and the vast legacy that the warriors and settlers left behind hundreds of years ago, giving visitors a chance to take a glimpse into the past as it is brought vibrantly and noisily to life!

An eclectic mixture of free and ticketed events for all the family were enjoyed by visitors from near and far, from Viking Age crafting sessions to have-a-go sword combat and the Best Beard competition. The Parliament Street Marquee held a 10th Century market with traders selling goods and souvenirs using ancient techniques, materials and designs. Whilst plenty of fun for children, there were also educational talks and presentations by some of the top experts in the field. There was a huge Viking banquet where you could feast like a warrior. Of course, the Watlington Hoard was incredible to see – and you can still view this at the museum for quite some time.

A march by hundreds of Vikings through the city streets and a fiery finale brought this year’s JORVIK Viking Festival to a close in epic style, as hundreds of warriors from around Europe and beyond joined in, witnessed by tens of thousands of visitors. The finale sold out quickly, and no wonder. It was an incredible live battle between the invaders and the Anglo-Saxon defenders as the cast of fearsome fighters locked swords and shields amidst stunning sound and light effects with a dazzling firework display from the iconic Clifford’s Tower ending the festival literally with a bang!

Commenting on the success of JORVIK Viking Festival 2018, marketing manager Paul Whiting said, “This year’s festival has enabled us to tell a story of war and peace – the festival events focused on the Viking invasion of York in AD866, whilst the newly reimagined JORVIK Viking Centre showed how these mighty warriors settled here, living a comparatively peaceful existence for the next 200 years. Key events, from concerts to the Viking feast and the grand finale event sold out weeks in advance, and the myriad free activities – especially the encampment – were busy all week. We will not know the full visitor figures for a little while, but it certainly felt busier than ever before for the march through the city.”

The rich and varied history of York draws visitors to Yorkshire in their thousands every year, and the Viking Festival is certainly one such event which puts our county firmly on the map. It is fantastic that people embrace our historical diversity and the popularity of this event, plus the many others held across Yorkshire show that public interest in our past continues to grow.


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