ORGANISERS hope this year's Viking Festival will be the biggest and best ever – and it will start with the official reopening of the new Jorvik Centre.

Marking the 25th anniversary of the Viking Centre, in Coppergate, which is currently closed while it prepares for a relaunch, the festival will be held from February 13 to 25 and coincide with half-term.

The Coppergate Camp is set to be the epicentre of Viking activity, with other Viking escapades scheduled for elsewhere in York.

Visitors can learn about Viking life both at sea and on land, delve for real Viking treasure and learn a choreographed stage fight from the Vikings themselves.

Egil Skallagrimsson Keeps His Head, a dramatised version commissioned for the festival, tells the story of Icelandic hardman Egil's sea battle with his long-standing enemy Erik Bloodaxe.

Have-a-go sword combat gives children the chance to go into Viking battle. Children wanting to parade war wounds, but without fighting, can go to Walking Wounded, where make-up artists give cuts and bruises to make any Viking war hero proud.

The Bonebreaker film, which was highly praised in 2009, is back at the City Screen, with an exclusive glimpse of the sequel.

A Horrible Histories event, telling disgusting tales of Viking and Anglo-Saxon history, will include an opportunity to meet the author, Terry Deary. For adults, York Minster is hosting an evening of poetry and music led by Erik Bloodaxe.

On the last day of the festival, visitors can watch as the Viking troop is led in its final march through the city centre to Coppergate, and for the third year running the Best Beard Competition will also be run, with real or false both eligible.

The culmination of the event is a battle reconstruction at York Racecourse, using special effects, burning boats and an explosive fire art finale.

Festival highlights

Monday, February 15
Coppergate Camp.

Dig for Viking Treasure and Trolls’ Treasure at Coppergate Camp and Kids’ Have-a-go Sword Combat (pre-booking essential) at Central Methodist Hall, St Saviourgate.

Tuesday, February 16
Bonebreaker at City Screen.

East vs West at Festival Marquee, St Sampson’s Square.

Wednesday, February 17
Egil Skallagrimsson Keeps His Head, at the National Centre for Early Music.

Olaf the Viking, at Coppergate Marquee.

Thursday, February 18
Kids’ Have-a-go Sword Combat (pre-booking required) at Central Methodist Hall, St Saviourgate.

Combat through the Ages at Festival Marquee, St Sampson’s Square.

Egil Skallagrimsson Keeps His Head, at National Centre for Early Music.

Friday, February 19
Stardome at Central Methodist Hall, St Saviourgate.

Coppergate Camp, includes Walking Wounded and Hair Braiding.

Fit For A King (adults only), at York Minster.

Horrible Histories, at City Screen.

Saturday, February 20
The March To Coppergate, departs Museum Gardens at 10.30am.

3rd Jorvik Best Beard Competition, 2pm at Coppergate Square.

Festival Battle Finale, 5pm at York Racecourse.

For more information and booking visit or phone the JORVIK Viking Centre on 01904 615505.