Beards and brawls in York for Jorvik Viking Festival finale

By Ben Miller | 17 February 2012
A photo of a young girl holding a flame in a darkened park
© York Archaeological Trust
Festival: Jorvik Viking Festival Finale, various venues, York, until February 19 2012

If you haven’t renounced shaving or started grappling iron, the finale of York’s 27th annual Viking rumble holds no prizes for you.

But for one Viking warrior – chosen from finalists called Jorfor, Kjartan, Orm, Ulf, Dagfinr, Njal, Rurik and Sven – the Jorvik Strongman title lies in wait, decided via a Brawl in the Guildhall.

More statuesque but no less fiercely contested, the race for the festival’s Best Beard will finish at Coppergate Camp, although anyone showing skin in the facial hair stakes might be saved by the eligibility of improvised beards in an award described as “highly sought after”.

Elsewhere, 200 Viking troops march from Dean’s park across the city, accompanied by birds of prey and archery demonstrations en route to a Festival of Fire which will close the festival.

Weapon wielding, war wound make-up for children, fireworks and the torching of a 60-foot Viking longship at York Racecourse are on the cards, all overseen by the historical heroes behind the York Archaeological Trust, which is providing re-enactments and experts ripe for a chat about gristly archaeological finds.

Just in case that’s not enough axe-brandishing entertainment, Tyr – a Faroese Viking metal band making their first headline appearance in the UK – arrive with tunes based around bygone Nordic lore, holding an early evening soundcheck before their gig at Fibbers.

More pictures:

A photo of a huge boat on fire in a ceremony in a darkened park
More than 40,000 people are expected to have visited the festival
© York Archaeological Trust

A photo of a group of people in Medieval dress inside a church
The Festival culminates with Vikings fighting in a ferocious and bloody battle© York Archaeological Trust
A photo of a young boy wearing a fake beard
This is the 27th year of the festival
© York Archaeological Trust
A photo of two men in Viking costume
Fire poi, manifestations of Norse mythology and a firework display close proceedings© York Archaeological Trust
A photo of two men in Viking costumes brandishing swords
The festival is never short of a colourful costume or two
© York Archaeological Trust

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