Countdown is on for Heysham Viking Festival

Vikings are set to descend on Heysham this month.
Vikings are set to descend on Heysham this month.

Dust off that horned helmet and raise a drinking horn, as Heysham’s Viking Festival returns to the village.

The free festival is expected to attract several hundred ‘Vikings’ from across the country plus thousands of spectators, with many inclusive historical and have-a-go events.

Heysham Viking Festival. Ulfrich Vaskrson practices his battle cry.

Heysham Viking Festival. Ulfrich Vaskrson practices his battle cry.

The picturesque village was first invaded by the Vikings more than 1,200 years ago, with Norsemen settling to become ancestors of those living locally to this day.

Peter Whaley, chair of Heysham Neighbourhood Council, said “To see Viking warbands processing through the village, culminating in an almighty battle, is truly breathtaking.

“Health and safety wasn’t so high on the Vikings’ list of priorities, but while it looks terrifyingly real, our well-practised re-enactors give a great show with no real casualties!”

Taking place from July 15-16 (10am-5.30pm), the festival centres around a Viking Village, tented encampment on the main field, complete with an authentic Viking longboat.

There will be a daily parade, complete with authentic costumes, weaponry and battle-cries, from the field at 12.30pm up the main street to the headland and back via St Peter’s.

The church itself is home to many Viking artefacts, including the Hog back stone, which will be the subject of one of the expert talks. Also on Saturday, local historian Peter Wade will be conducting a guided walk.

There’s plenty to do for ‘mini Vikings’, with a funfair and ‘have a go’ events such as sword fighting and archery. Then follows a full-scale battle re-enactment, on the village field each day at 3.30pm.

There will be plenty of food stalls and a hog roast will keep all marauding visitors battle-ready.

The feasting and fun continue into the evening with folk duo ‘The Bimble Brothers’ playing on the cricket club field on Saturday night and the newly refurbished Royal Hotel and beer garden will be open throughout.