Jorvik Viking Festival 2016: 11 terrifyingly good things to do

A warm welcome to the Jorvik Viking Festival from two friendly stewards
15 Feb 2016 @ 5.11 pm
| Entertainment, Family, History

Fluff up your beard, polish your best sword and get ready to eat more roast pig than is strictly good for you – Jorvik Viking Festival is back and it’s bigger, badder and bawdier than ever.

Across York

Mon Feb 15-Sun Feb 21 2016

Jorvik Viking Festival website

York’s 10th century Vikings are in town to celebrate Jolablot, a festival that marks the end of another hard winter and the arrival of spring.

The theme of the 32nd festival is the dramatic rise to power of King Canute, with 2016 marking 1,000 years since he was crowned and the new North Sea Empire emerged.

There’s something for everyone across the week with from free encampments, parades and activities to dramatic live combat, music and fireworks.

Here are 11 things that Vikings of all ages can enjoy.

1. Vikings in your Vocabulary

Somehow we suspect these chaps aren't just popping round to borrow a cup of sugar
Somehow we suspect these chaps aren’t just popping round to borrow a cup of sugar

Top academics describe the fascinating changes the vikings made to the Norse language and poetry (bet they loved a limerick) on Tuesday February 16 at 2.30pm.

Later, at 7pm, the boffins speak out In Praise of King Canute: Norse Poetry from England. Both the ticketed talks take place at The Guildhall.

2. Living History Encampments

Traders and invaders.. Russ Scott (Viking name  Wadmal) displays his goods for trading at the Viking camp in Coppergate. Photograph: Nigel Holland
Traders and invaders.. Russ Scott (Viking name Wadmal) displays his goods for trading at the Viking camp in Coppergate. Photograph: Nigel Holland

There are two viking encampments to visit and explore throughout the week until Saturday February 20th outside the Jorvik Centre in Coppergate and on Parliament Street.

Visitors can chat to the vikings, hear stories of the king and, until Thursday, tickle the animals in a special viking steading (a bit like a viking petting zoo).

3. Combat Battles

The Guildhall hosts a number of one-to-one combat battles to show what helped King Canute rise to power (hint: they were big, sharp and pointy) daily until Friday February 19th

Tickets cost £2.50 to £3.50 and pre-booking is advised as there tend to be lots of families queuing up baying for blood.

4. Beowulf by Candlelight

Is everyone sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin...
Is everyone sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…

A sell-out event for the last three years, this promises to be a wildly imaginative retelling of Peter Carrington-Porter’s work in St Helen’s candlelit church on Thursday February 18 and Friday February 19 from 7.30pm.

Tickets are £5.50 to £7.50 and pre-booking is essential. As this is such a popular event, if you haven’t got a ticket already, you might be out of luck.

5. The Ultimate Viking Banquet

Have an unforgettable – and quite filling – experience in the Merchant Taylor’s Hall on Friday February 19 as you dine with Vikings (their table manners are impeccable) to celebrate King Cantue’s betrothal to Emma of Normandy.

Tickets are £65.50 and booking is essential if you want to enjoy a menu of fine themed cuisine, drama and laughs.

6. Brawl at the Guildhall

OK, so they might not be in contention for the Strongest Viking title, but you wouldn't mess with this lot, would you?
OK, so they might not be in contention for the Strongest Viking title, but you wouldn’t mess with this lot, would you?
No, it’s not the councillors having a rumble, it’s the Strongest Viking Competition on Saturday February 20, when entrants from all over the country descend on the Guildhall to test their strength, skill and stamina.

Tickets are £3 to £4.

7. March to Coppergate

Join this colourful parade through the streets of York with the vikings on Saturday February 20 from 1.30pm.

They’re marching from Dean’s Park, next to the minster, to Coppergate, where they will take part in the battle finale.

8. Best Beard Contest

My beard is definitely the best - and so is my mum's
My beard is definitely the best – and so is my mum’s
Whether you’re naturally hirsute or need a bit of help from some wool and a glue gun, everyone is in with a chance of winning the coveted annual Best Beard title.

Simply fluff up whatever happens to be sprouting out of your face and head to the city camp in Parliament Street on Saturday February 20 from 3pm.

9. King Canute’s Spectacular Finale

King Canute takes a deep breath to blow out the candles for his 1,000th anniversary
King Canute takes a deep breath to blow out the candles for his 1,000th anniversary

Watch the vicious vikings battle the angry Anglo-Saxons in a spectacular fight featuring music, lights and pyrotechnics.

They’re recreating the battle for the throne in 1016, retelling the infamous Battle of Assundun, at 6pm on Saturday February 20 on Castle Green in the Eye of York.

10. How To Train Your Dragon double bill

Watch a double bill of the the hugely popular animated films.

Hiccup, Toothless and friends battle it out in Viking style in How To Train Your Dragon and How To Train Your Dragon 2. There’s an interval between the two movies for refreshments.

The movies kick off at DIG on Friday, February 19 from 1pm. Tickets are £7 per child, and each child must be accompanied by an adult.

Price includes fruit squash, Haribo sweets and a craft activity for each child to take home.

11. Poo Day!

Saving the best for last, can we tempt you to have a go at making your own replica historic poo at DIG on Wednesday February 17 from noon to 4pm?

Yes, we thought so.