Since 1985, York’s Viking Festival has been getting bigger and attracting more participants and visitors to celebrate a key time in the old Norse year – ‘Jolablot’, a period between winter solstice and the first full moon in January.  Pagan Norse people would have travelled miles to join parties (‘Jol’) celebrating the return of lighter days and making sacrifices (‘Blot’) to Odin and Freyr for a fertile season ahead.

‘Yule’ was an update of the ‘Jol’ word and it was still a pagan festival until Christians accommodated some of the dates and celebrations for their Christmas.  For instance, Twelfth Night when trees and decorations come down now, is probably the same day the mead and meat ran out at Jolablot!

York Archaeological Trust know how to organise a good event: for most of the year they run York’s award winning Jorvik attraction.  February is usually the best time for all things Viking, although it went digital in the pandemic and was pushed back to May last year.

Full details are yet to be confirmed but expect a lavish Viking feast on Saturday February 11th and a ‘Battle Spectacular’ on Saturday February 18th.  Viking markets will be around and an intimidating column of armed warriors will march through the city centre to make their presence felt just as they must have done when Coppergate, near the river Foss, was established in 866 as the site of a trading settlement that would flourish for nearly a hundred and fifty years.

Contributed by Louise Fawn, Yorkshire Blue Badge Guide –