The JORVIK Viking Festival - ten reasons to visit York in February

With winter coming to an end, York’s 10thcentury Vikings would have celebrated surviving the harshest season with an annual celebration called Jolablot.  Today, that tradition is continued by the JORVIK Viking Centre, which takes over the city for a week-long festival of all things Norse, the JORVIK Viking Festival, drawing visitors from all over the world to make it the largest Viking festival in Europe!

“The JORVIK Viking Festival was launched back in 1984, and has gone from strength to strength each year – children who attended our early festivals are now bringing their children back for a taste of the Viking life,” comments festival director, Danielle Daglan.  “We make sure that the week has something for everyone, from free encampments, parades and activities to our spectacular grand finale event, a dramatic live combat event with music and fireworks, which this year, will tell the story of Canute, the forgotten king.”

Danielle’s top ten things that you shouldn’t miss as part of the 2016 JORVIK Viking Festival are:

  1. March to Coppergate (Saturday 20 February, 1.30pm) – a parade through the streets of York.  Join hundreds of Vikings as they muster in Dean’s Park, next to York Minster, or stand along the route to Coppergate to see the fearsome warriors walk past.  Free event.
  2. King Canute’s Spectacular Finale (Saturday 20 February, 18:00) – a stunning son-et-lumière event featuring a horde of brave Vikings fighting against unruly Anglo-Saxons, recreating the battle for England’s throne in 1016, with music, lights and pyrotechnics!  Tickets from £10, prebooking essential.
  3. The Ultimate Viking Banquet (Friday 19 February, 19:00) – an unforgettable Viking dining experience in York’s Merchant Taylors’ Hall, to celebrate the betrothal of King Canute to Emma of Normandy.  Expect drama, laughs and one or two frayed tempers as you enjoy fine themed cuisine.  Tickets £65.50 per person, prebooking essential.
  4. Best Beard Contest (Saturday 20 February, 15.00pm) – whether your beard has taken years of careful cultivation, or has been fabricated using wool and glue, JORVIK’s Vikings want to see your beard at the JORVIK Viking Festival’s Parliament Street encampment!  Open to all ages (and genders), this whiskerfest is hugely competitive!  Free event.
  5. Brawl at the Guildhall: Strongest Viking Competition (Saturday 20 February, 10:00) With entrants from all over the country and beyond, this is a trial of strength like no other, testing skill, endurance and stamina to crown the strongest Viking of 2016!  Tickets £4 adult, £3 child, prebooking recommended.
  6. Living history encampments (daily, Monday 15 – Saturday 20 February)  This year, the JORVIK Viking Festival has not one but two living history encampments, one outside the JORVIK Viking Centre in Coppergate, and a second in Parliament Street where visitors can chat to Vikings, hear stories of King Canute, and Monday to Thursday, see the animals that the Vikings farm in a special Viking Steading.  Free event.
  7. Beowulf by Candlelight (Thursday 18 & Friday 19 February, 19:30)– a sell-out event for the last three years, this imaginative retelling of the Beowulf story by Peter Carrington-Porter will have your heart pounding as the story reaches its gripping climax, in the atmospheric candle-lit setting of St Helen’s Church.  Tickets £7.50 adult, £5.50 concession, £4.50 child, prebooking advised.
  8. Lecture programme – with the JORVIK Viking Festival’s roots firmly grounded in the city’s archaeology, which fundamentally changed our understanding of the Vikings, a programme of lectures and talks by top national and international academics provides an accessible insight into what we know about the Norse invaders, from their language (Vikings In Your Vocabulary, 16 February, 14:30) to their poetry (In Praise of King Canute: Norse poetry from England, 16 February, 19:00).
  9. Combat arena battles (Monday 15 – Friday 19 February, 11:00 and 14:00) – York’s Guildhall plays host to a different one-on-one combat event each day to chart the rise of Canute to take the throne of England!  Tickets £3.50 adult, £2.50 concession/child, prebooking advised)
  10. **Please note** - the original 10th idea was a visit to the JORVIK Viking Centre itself, but as that was flooded during the York floods of 27 December, it will no longer be open to the public during the JORVIK Viking Festival .

For more details of events in the JORVIK Viking Festival 2016, please visit


For further media information or photographs, please contact:

Jay Commins

Pyper York Limited

Tel:         01904 500698