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The Vikings are coming! Norse invaders set to descend on Sheringham for ‘biggest and best’ festival yet

PUBLISHED: 11:50 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:30 07 January 2020

Re-enactors in action at the living history encampment set up at the Leas clifftop gardens as part of last year's Sheringham Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Re-enactors in action at the living history encampment set up at the Leas clifftop gardens as part of last year's Sheringham Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

Hundreds of fur-clad, axe-carrying Norse warriors will descend on Sheringham, when the hugely popular Scira Viking Festival kicks off on February 22 with a week-long series of talks, demonstrations and family craft workshops.

Re-enactors in action at the living history encampment set up at the Leas clifftop gardens as part of last year's Sheringham Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELLRe-enactors in action at the living history encampment set up at the Leas clifftop gardens as part of last year's Sheringham Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Now in its seventh year, the annual event was the idea of local artist Colin Seal, who wanted to honour Sheringham's Norse heritage and attract local people and visitors to the seaside town outside the holiday season.

"After Christmas, it's a bit of a let-down," Mr Seal, 76, said. "January and February are quite miserable, so it's nice to have something to do and, even though it's cold, people wrap up and we go ahead whatever the weather."

Flame torch-carrying Vikings get set for the ceremonial boat-burning on the beach. Photo: KAREN BETHELLFlame torch-carrying Vikings get set for the ceremonial boat-burning on the beach. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Since it was first held in 2013, the festival has grown beyond all expectations, last year featuring more than 100 re-enactors and attracting thousands of spectators from as far afield as Essex, Berkshire and Leicestershire.

Mr Seal, 76, said the event, which is now run by Sheringham Carnival Association, this year promised to be bigger and better than ever, with more attractions and up to 200 re-enactors from all over the country.

Flame torch-carrying Vikings get set for the ceremonial boat-burning on the beach. Photo: KAREN BETHELLFlame torch-carrying Vikings get set for the ceremonial boat-burning on the beach. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

"We are also planning to drape huge banners around the town - every year we try to add something different and new," he added.

Oddfellows Hall, on Lifeboat Plain, will be transformed into 'Valhalla Hall' for a series of workshops and demonstrations including axe and shield-making, while the seafront museum will host Viking-themed talks and musk ox spinning demonstrations.

The boat-burning on the beach at last year's Sheringham Scira Viking Festival.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLThe boat-burning on the beach at last year's Sheringham Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

The main festival day, on February 22, will see festival regulars Wuffa Saxon and Viking Re-enactment Society turn the town's Leas clifftop gardens into a living history encampment featuring Viking cooking, crafts and weaponry displays, as well as have-a-go axe throwing and archery demonstrations.

Other attractions will include thrilling battles on the beach, with the day culminating in a torchlit procession through the town, followed by the traditional burning of a 28-ft longboat on the west beach, which, Mr Seal said, would be "more spectacular than ever".

Re-enactors in action at Sheringham's Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELLRe-enactors in action at Sheringham's Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Festival organisers would be pleased to hear from anyone willing to help out for a few hours during the week or on the main festival day. For more information, email secretary@sheringhamcarnival.com

Re-enactors in action at Sheringham's Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELLRe-enactors in action at Sheringham's Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Members of Wuffa Saxon and Viking Re-enactment Society at a living history encampment set up at the Leas clifftop gardens as part of last year's Sheringham Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELLMembers of Wuffa Saxon and Viking Re-enactment Society at a living history encampment set up at the Leas clifftop gardens as part of last year's Sheringham Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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