See full calendar of JORVIK Viking Festival events here
#VisitJorvik appeal to bring visitors back to the city King Canute – the Viking who took the English throne in 1016 – has made an appeal for York businesses to throw their support behind the JORVIK Viking Festival, taking place over half term (15-21 February) to remind the world that York is well and truly open for business.
“The JORVIK Viking Festival regularly attracts national and international media interest – we’ve had enquiries from film crews and journalists as far away as Chile, Israel and Singapore, so it is a fantastic opportunity for York’s business community to demonstrate that the city is open for business,” comments festival director, Danielle Daglan. “All of the events that we’d organised before the Boxing Day flooding are taking place as planned, with only one venue being changed – for a talk which was due to be hosted within JORVIK Viking Centre – and because the Festival is the first major event in the city since the floods, it provides a great excuse to invite people back to York by sharing a consumer-friendly welcoming message across social media.”
Canute is appealing for retailers to add a Viking theme to their displays, from swords and home-made shields to helmets (ideally without horns!) – and JORVIK Viking Centre’s Vikings will be out and about around York over the coming weeks to take Viking ‘selfies’ with people willing to share the message using the hashtag #VisitJorvik – reflecting the city of York’s temporal twinning with its Viking predecessor!
The festival is supported by Make It York, which has been leading the #YorkOpen4Business message. Kate McMullen, Head of Consumer Products and Marketing, Make It York, said, “It has been a very difficult time for some businesses and residents in York, both those affected directly by the floods and those experiencing a downturn in business due to the recent media exposure. York’s businesses and key tourism partners are all working with us to help get across the ‘Yorkopen4businesss’ message. We’re delighted the Viking Festival is going full steam ahead and we’re confident this year’s event will be the best yet.”
The connection between the recent floods and this year’s festival theme – King Canute – is entirely coincidental. 2016 is the 1000th anniversary of Canute – best known for the story in which he tells the waves to turn back – taking the English throne. However, as festival attendees will learn, this was not a demonstration of a foolhardy leader but rather a pious king who wished to demonstrate that only God has the power to command nature, and it would be ridiculous for any leader to claim absolute power.
The story of Canute will be explored in a range of events, including lectures and talks from leading academics. The annual Helen Thirza Addyman Lecture (Tues 16 Feb, 7pm at DIG) will this year be presented by Matthew Townend of the University of York, exploring Norse poetry which gave a Scandinavian view on the first European Union – a North Sea empire – headed by the charismatic king. The Danish Conquest – 50 years before the Norman Conquest – is explored on Fri 19 February at 2.30pm at York’s Guildhall, explaining why Canute paved the way for William the Conqueror.
More light-hearted activities also include the Viking Banquet later that evening at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, celebrating the betrothal of Canute to Emma of Normandy in a food-and-ale-fuelled romp, whilst the Festival’s grand finale, on the evening of Saturday 20 February, tells of Canute’s rise to power with floodlight battles, music and pyrotechnics – a not-to-be missed spectacular!
The 32nd annual JORVIK Viking Festival is only the second Festival to be staged when visitors have not been able to visit the JORVIK Viking Centre itself. The last time was in 2001 when the attraction was preparing for a huge relaunch following a £5 million refurbishment. “Clearly, it is a blow to us that we’re unable to show visitors around our recreation of Viking-age Coppergate this February, but the Vikings have never let water stop them from doing anything – and this Festival provides a fantastic message that despite the closure, life carries on as normal within the city, even for the Vikings!” adds director of attractions, Sarah Maltby.
The full programme for the JORVIK Viking Festival is available online at www.jorvik-viking-festival.co.uk , including details of all the free and paid-for events.