What’s the best way to see Vikings for free at the 2020 JORVIK Viking Festival


Families on a budget visiting the 2020 JORVIK Viking Festival will be able to get a real taste of Viking life without breaking the bank, organisers have confirmed, with a host of events throughout the nine-day Festival which are completely free of charge!

Organised by charity York Archaeological Trust, the celebration of all things Norse takes over the city centre for the February half term, and with accessibility and education at the heart of the Trust’s aims, festival manager Gareth Henry explains that it is important to have a mix of free and paid-for events: “Sharing stories about York’s past has been a huge part of what the Trust has done over the last four decades, and whilst we have to charge to off-set the costs for some of our events, we are always keen to make sure there is plenty to see and do that is completely free of charge – including the most impressive annual parade in York!”

Top free events are:

  • The Viking Encampment in Parliament Street, which runs daily throughout the Festival from 10.00am to 4.00pm – meet re-enactors, historic interpreters and traditional craftspeople in their living history encampment at the heart of the city.  Everyone has their own tale to tell, so take time to watch them working and listening to them sharing the stories of their lives and wares!
  • Sagas on the St Sampson’s Square Stage – at regular intervals each day (times will be published on a blackboard each day), listen to heroes, explorers and settlers as they tell their stories, and watch as they demonstrate the battle techniques that helped create their reputation as fearsome warriors.
  • Inaugural Viking Costume Competition (open to members of the public) – the Vikings were clean, well-groomed and often well-dressed as a display of wealth and status.  Don’t just watch them strut their stuff on the St Sampson’s Square Stage on Saturday 15 February from 3.00pm – join in!  Fashion a Viking throw or tunic out of an old blanket, scarf or top, make a cardboard shield and hey presto the Viking catwalk awaits!
  • The Annual Strongest Viking Competition – feats of endurance and strength on the St Sampson’s Square Stage as Viking competes against Viking to be proclaimed the strongest of York’s warriors!  Choose your champion and cheer them on!  Saturday 22 February at 11.00am.
  • The Bloodaxe Reading Challenge – particularly good for local children, and set up in association with Explore Libraries, join this challenge to read as many books as you can before the Festival, and have a chance to win tickets to meet award-winning author Hilary Robinson as she launches her new book Jasper: Viking Dog at Explore York on Wednesday 12 February.
  • The Best Beard Competition – don’t just watch, take part!  Beards of all description are welcome, from naturally-grown to man-made, and the competition is open to men, women, children and even dogs!  Free entry, and the chance to win some fabulous prizes on Saturday 22 February at 3.00pm on the St Sampson’s Square Stage.
  • March to Coppergate – the city streets filled with Vikings of all ages, social status and profession!  Over 200 Vikings are expected to march from Dean’s Park by York Minster down to Coppergate, finishing at the Eye of York in a superb display of costume, weaponry and Viking style.  The march leaves York Minster at 1.30pm, and their war cries will echo around the city centre on Saturday 22 February.


Details of all the events at this year’s JORVIK Viking Festival can be found at www.jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk