York, 20-26 February 2017
Europe’s largest Viking festival will pave the way for the return of the Vikings to York: that’s the aim of the 2017 JORVIK Viking Festival, which takes place from 20 to 26 February 2017. Organisers have revealed that the Festival will provide the perfect prologue to the re-opening of the world-famous JORVIK Viking Centre with Eric Bloodaxe taking centre stage.
With the timeline for the newly re-imagined visitor attraction set for the year AD960, the team responsible for creating the festival programme have taken inspiration from one of the key historical events that shaped the Viking world around this time – the end of King Eric Bloodaxe’s reign. The demise of Bloodaxe led to significant changes to the Viking city of Jorvik, and these stories will be told as part of the new visitor experience, when JORVIK Viking Centre re-opens on 8 April 2017.
“Eric’s face has been used as the logo for the JORVIK Viking Festival for decades, but this year we’ll be bidding a fond farewell to the famous king – and sending him on his way in fiery style,” comments director of attractions for the JORVIK Group, Sarah Maltby.
Indeed, Eric will fight his final battle during the festival finale event. His death in this ultimate mortal combat will be suitably memorialised with a flaming funeral pyre; his body consumed by fire whilst his spirit rises to take its place in Valhalla.
Visitors will be able to join Bloodaxe on his final campaign throughout the festival, whether selecting the finest warriors to stand alongside him in the Strongest Viking Competition (Saturday 25 February), or pledging allegiance and fuelling up for battle at the Battle Feast (Friday 24 February) in the historic Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.
All week long, his troops will be stationed in the Coppergate Centre in a living history encampment on the site of the archaeological dig from which JORVIK was conceived and for over 30 years, has recreated the Viking-age city for over 18 million visitors.
Whilst some traditional favourite events remain the same – including the march through the city streets on Saturday 25 February – others have been relocated to cater for the growing audience that the Festival attracts each year. “We’re bringing the Strongman competition back to Coppergate, the home of the Vikings for this year’s festival, and it will be a free event so more people than ever can enjoy it! We’ll also stage the tremendously popular ‘best beard’ competition in the square outside JORVIK,” comments festival co-ordinator, Nicola Harkess. “Having sold out the finale for the last three years, and with work planned for Clifford’s Tower which would further restrict space at the Eye of York, we’ll be relocating the spectacular finale to Rawcliffe Country Park. This larger space will help us to create more of a festival feel to the event, offering almost double the capacity without spoiling views, with hot food and Viking displays to prepare visitors for the epic battle ahead!”
Alongside two Viking trading ships, a 50ft wide Yurt – courtesy of Yorkshire Yurts – on Parliament Street will house an exhibition trailing the new JORVIK Viking Centre and hosting hands-on workshops during the week, whilst a second large marquee on St Sampson’s Square will host have-a-go archery and sword fighting sessions for children, before transforming into a hub for Viking traders during the final weekend.
Other events planned for the festival include talks and presentations by local experts and visiting authors, crafting workshops where participants can help make props to go into the new JORVIK displays, city tours and a host of fringe events, from pub walks to films, throughout the city.
For more details of this year’s festival, or to purchase tickets for key events, visit www.jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk or use #JVF17 on social media.
Notes for editors:
- 2017 will mark the 33rd annual JORVIK Viking Festival
- In 2016, analysis by Visit York estimates that nearly 53,000 people attended the JORVIK Viking Festival
- The economic impact of the JORVIK Viking Festival is estimated at nearly £6 million
- JORVIK Viking Festival is organised entirely by York Archaeological Trust, a registered charity
- The newly reimagined JORVIK Viking Centre will reopen, following the devastating floods of December 2015, on 8 April 2017.
For further media information or photographs, please contact:
Pyper York Limited
Tel: 01904 500698