Up to 8,000 expected for annual Viking festival
PUBLISHED: 16:20 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:47 17 February 2020
A 28ft wooden longship has sailed into Sheringham, ready to be set ablaze at the finale of the town’s annual Scira Viking Festival on Saturday.
'Moored' near the town clock, the wooden boat, which was built by local carpenter Henri Howe, features rope stitching, Viking shields sponsored by local businesses and a prow topped with a dragon's head decorated with real gold and copper leaf 'scales' by well-known Sheringham-based artist Brian Lewis.
Pub landlord Graham Deans, who is Sheringham carnival events manager, said the festival, which was founded in 2013 by local artist Colin Seal, had grown to become one of the most popular events of its kind.
He added: "Numbers double every year and we are now knocking on the door of being the second biggest Viiking festival in the country. It's a massive uplift for the local economy, and to have that many people in a seaside town in February is tremendous."
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Kicking off on Monday with a week-long series of family-friendly activities at the town's seafront museum and Oddfellows community hall, the event this year promises to be bigger and better than ever, Mr Deans added, with the main festival day expected to attract up to 8,000 spectators and around 200 re-enactors from four Dark Age groups.
As well as setting up a living history encampment at the Leas clifftop gardens, Lowestoft-based festival regulars Wuffa will be staging battles on the seafront, before wielding flame torches and escorting the longship through the town for the traditional boat-burning on the beach.
Mr Seal, who still heads up the team of festival organisers, said Mr Lewis's involvement had "raised the bar".
"It takes us nine months to organise the festival, but Brian has created something very special and we will be keeping the dragon head for next year and burning a different one on Saturday," he added.
Festival events and activities continue this week at Sheringham Museum and Oddfellows Hall. The fun kicks off on Saturday at 9.30am with a Viking village on the Leas with stalls, weapon and armour displays, have-a-go axe-throwing and living history demonstrations.
Battles will take place at 11am on the Leas and at 2pm on the beach, with the torchlight parade assembling at Station Road at 4.15pm for the boat-burning on the beach at 5pm. More: Everything you need to know about Sheringham Viking Festival