The annual JORVIK Viking Festival is a city-wide celebration of York’s rich Norse heritage that goes back over 1000 years, and is taking place for the 35th time this year from 20 to 27 February. With an exciting programme of events the festival is perfect for all ages. While here, don’t forget to pick up a YorkPass that will grant you free entry to all the Viking (and other) attractions around York. Find out how you can explore the Viking city, saving money in the meantime.

Experience Viking life

Start your journey into the Viking age by visiting the famous JORVIK Viking Centre that is built on the site of the Coppergate archaeological dig from 1970s. Free with a YorkPass, this attraction will take you back in time to see, hear and smell the streets of the 10th century York. Discover the remains of the Viking-Age houses and see the artefacts found in the excavations, including a Viking-age frying-pan!

From there wonder down to the Viking Encampment on Parliament street. For the whole week of the festival York’s central street will be transformed into a special living history experience, where you can discover how the Norsemen and women lived, what they wore and traded. This is your chance to take a selfie, ask some questions and hear an epic saga from the Viking warriors turned traders.

Also on St. Sampson’s Square you will be able to enjoy story-telling of great Viking sagas, dramatic combat displays and musical interludes throughout every day of the festival.

Don’t miss one of the festival highlights – March to Coppergate, starting from the Dean’s park next to York Minster at 13:00 on February 23. Follow the great Viking procession through the streets of Jorvik, get closer to the soldiers and get an idea of what it would have been like to be a warrior 1000 years ago. Get your Viking cloak and axe ready and join the march if you dare.

Learn more about the Vikings

Want to know what Vikings thought of the supernatural? The Magic & Mystery exhibition at Barley Hall has been expanded for the duration of the festival, to explore the mystical ideas of Norsemen and women, including prophecy, trance and runes. Birds of prey featured heavily in Norse sagas and Viking mythology, so on February 22 you will also have a chance to meet a variety of ravens, owls and falcons in the medieval Great Hall.

Barley Hall will also become a hub for many talks and demonstrations about archaeology and Viking life. Included in the admission fee and free with a YorkPass, you can meet the members of York Conservation Trust who will demonstrate the latest tools and techniques used in archaeology as well as the Viking pottery collection. Here you will also discover how photogrammetry is being used in archaeology to create 3D models of artefacts and architecture.

When visiting the iconic York Minster, also free with your YorkPass, don’t forget to venture down to the Undercroft exhibition. There you will find the Horn of Ulf – replica of the 1000 year old elephant tusk gifted to the cathedral by a Viking lord.

For the smaller explorers and future archaeologists, visit DIG – an Archaeological Adventure. The attraction has four excavation pits where children can dig for the exact replicas of Roman and Viking artefacts. First and last days of the JORVIK Viking Festival are “Poo Days” at DIG. Kids can find out why archaeologists love poo, as well as make a replica of the famous poo fossil – the Lloyds Bank Turd on display at JORVIK Viking Centre.

Go down in Viking history

Compete for your place on the pedestal at two great Viking competitions. Known for their skills on the battlefield and the ability to tame seas, strength is integral to the identity of the Vikings. On February 23 at 11:00 on the stage of St. Sampson’s square the “Strongest Viking” competition will take place. The logs will be lifted, battle axes will be wielded and fighting will ensue. Challenge yourself and you may emerge victorious as the strongest Viking of 2019!

Later in the day at 15:00, come back to the square where the search for the most glorious beard in York will ensue. All can join the “Best Beard” competition – men, women, children, and all beards are qualified for entry – natural or homemade. Who doesn’t want to go down in history as the Best Beard of 2019?

To get your money-saving YorkPass go to Choose one of the 1, 2, 3 and 6 day passes and explore York’s attractions at your own pace.

Find out more about the JORVIK Viking Festival on

Have fun exploring the Viking York and share your experiences with us using hashtags #JVF19 and #onlyinyork

Visit York Blog Written By Ana Ignatova