Beyond the homestead: Viking women take centre stage for 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival

20 – 27 February 2019

Europe’s largest Viking Festival returns to York next February, telling the stories of Viking women beyond the homestead through the voices of seers, queens and shield maidens – a story of women whose influence was as great as any mighty warrior. JORVIK Viking Festival runs from 20 – 27 February 2019.


“For the last 35 years, the themes of JORVIK Viking Festival have enabled us to tell stories that encompass many different aspects of Viking history, from myths and legends to kings and warriors, and though women have taken key roles in many of the stories, this is the first time we’ve told all of the stories from a female perspective,” comments Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, which organises the annual event that drew over 63,000 visitors in 2018. “We have some superb source material in the sagas, which enable us to tell stories of exploration, settlement, conquest, magic and nobility from the perspective of powerful women.”


Characters coming to the fore during JORVIK Viking Festival 2019 will include the seeress Thorbjorgr litilvolva, the colourfully named Sigrid the Haughty and Aud the Deep Minded, and Gunnhild Konungamodir, wife of the last Viking King in York Eric Bloodaxe, who manoeuvred her sons to positions of power in Scandinavia after Eric’s death. Their stories will be presented at Freya’s Banquet on Friday 22 February, and re-enacted by a cast of warriors and shield maidens on the evening of Saturday 23 February at the Eye of York.


Visitors will also enjoy a larger encampment this year in Parliament Street, and the main stage which hosts presentations and displays throughout the week will be in St Sampson’s Square to accommodate the growing crowds who come to watch the Best Beard and Strongest Viking Competitions on Saturday 23 February. Crowds are also expected to line the city streets on the afternoon of 23 February for the parade of hundreds of warriors from York Minster to Coppergate, home of JORVIK Viking Centre.

 The eight-day long celebration of all things Norse runs from Wednesday to Wednesday in 2019 in line with differing dates for the school half term holiday across the country. “Traditionally, JORVIK Viking Festival has built up towards a finale weekend based on our local half term dates, but with an audience coming from across the country, we wanted to be sure that families can enjoy the many displays and events around the city during the week as well as the busy weekend. Depending on when visitors arrive, our parade and night-time son-et-lumière spectacular can be either the perfect start to a Viking visit, or a fantastic way to end a half-term break,” comments marketing manager, Beth Dawes.


As usual, the entertaining public events will run alongside academic talks and presentations highlighting York’s pre-eminent role in the understanding of Viking culture. Guest speakers include Dr Judith Jesch, professor of Viking Studies at the University of Nottingham, who is one of the world’s top experts on women in the Viking age.

Full details of all of the events in this year’s JORVIK Viking Festival will be posted online at