Viking Yule at the Royal Armouries

Carmel Smickersgill, Tours & Activities Editor
two men pose in chain mail. They are wearing metal helmets, one is holding an axe in the air and the other is holding a sowrd in the air. They are facing the camera.
Royal Armouries Museum

Viking Yule at The Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, Leeds 30 — 31 December 2023 Entrance is free — Visit now

The midwinter festival of Yule was a particular highlight in the Viking calendar. They would spend days sitting around a large fire, with a traditionally large log that would burn throughout. Sacrifices were offered to Odin, Thor or their dead, and people feasted excessively. This winter, the Vikings are gathering once more for their solstice-orientated winter celebration at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, with a packed, family-friendly programme of Yule celebrations. 

Let yourself be transported back in time as you walk into a Viking village filled with warriors practicing their battle moves, and plenty of Viking arms and armour to get up close to. You can take part in the tradition of Viking storytelling and listen to the sagas of the Norse Gods. You can learn about the battles fought by Alfred the Great and Harold Hardrada, and discover the ferocious combat tales of the mighty, gender non-conforming shield maidens. 

For those who want to see the armour in action rather than an exhibition cabinet, there will be regular combat demonstrations where you can catch Vikings and Saxons entering into bitter and blood-thirsty battles. The Vikings are known as some of the UK’s most viciously violent invaders. You can see where this reputation came from in the demonstration of a Viking shield wall. 

For the younger history enthusiasts, there will be face painting and temporary tattoos to get them feeling like a ferocious winter warrior. You can also make your own traditional Viking game to take home with you. Further into the village you can find Viking coin striking, and Viking traders keen to tell you about the feasting, fire and traditions associated with Yule.

Visit the Royal Armouries this season to explore our Scandinavian ancestors’ winter festivities and step back in time to learn, make and discover, with activities for all the family.

Viking Yule at The Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, Leeds 30 — 31 December 2023 Entrance is free Visit now

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