Viking Great Hall to be built in York car park – staging daily live shows

Is there a more entertaining car park in Britain?

First Castle Car Park hosted Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, bringing in thousands of theatregoers keen to see the plays in a 16th century style setting.


Now the same venue is set to take us further back in time, as the location for a Viking Great Hall, staging immersive theatre shows from that dramatic period in history.

As a report to the City of York Council executive states:

  • The successful hosting of the Rose Theatre in 2018 has already
    begun to positively challenge the perception of what Castle Car Park could be, and we are seeking to build on that success next year through a programme of events to be hosted on the car park throughout the year.

Special effects

Another view of the space
The Viking idea is the brainchild of Bifrost Entertainments – ‘creators of unique and immersive theatrical experiences’.

They want to build the great hall and courtyard theatre on part of the car park between January 18 and May 3 2019.

This would be a performance space which “will plunge visitors into the most exciting periods of history”.


Featuring 360° sets, live actors, and special effects, it would have a capacity of about 100 people per show.

The installation would also include a Viking themed homestead featuring food and drink outlets, sheltered and unsheltered seating, entertainment and a demonstration stage.

There is also and the potential for a craft and skills market. The whole experience has the working title Vikings: The Shield Wall Sagas

The numbers

The Viking experience would take 100 car park spaces
It could attract a total of 44,800 theatregoers over the 11 week period. During peak season – the February and Easter half term holidays – the theatre would run 7 days a week.

During the four-week off-peak period it would open attraction will operate over three and a half days.

Around 100 car park spaces will be needed to accommodate the Viking Hall. Bifrost will reimburse the council the full level of income received from the spaces at that time of year – a total of £136,500.

The report to councillors states: “Although Bifrost is a young company their management team has significant production and creative experience.

“Their business plan is based on selling 50% of the capacity with break-even at 22% of capacity.”

Initial analysis of the 2018 Rose Theatre suggests that car parking was displaced to other council owned car parks at St George’s Field and Piccadilly.

Rose Theatre returns

Castle car park featuring the Shakespeare Rose Theatre from the air. Photograph: Matthew King
The same report confirms the intention of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions to bring back Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, as reported by YorkMix ten days ago.

It said the first summer of the pop-up theatre generated excellent coverage in national newspapers and “reinforced York’s position as an excellent visitor destination with first-class cultural product”.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, executive member for culture, leisure and tourism, said the Rose Theatre was a huge success:

  • We hope these experiences will attract even more visitors next year and we want to build on that success through a programme of events to be hosted on the car park throughout the year.

    Through the proposed return of the Rose Theatre and the immersive Viking experience, it will reinforce the future vision for Castle Car Park whilst covering the council’s car parking income and attracting both residents and visitors to this part of the city.

The proposals tie in to the council’s wider regeneration Castle Gateway masterplan, which was approved in April 2018.

Councillors will decide whether to give the Viking and Rose theatres the green light at the executive meeting on Thursday, October 18.