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What makes the 2017 Loch Fyne Viking Festival unmissable? (July 5th to 9th)

What makes the 2017 Loch Fyne Viking Festival unmissable? (July 5th to 9th)
Are your kids fans of Thor? Or do you enjoy watching the TV series Vikings? Then the Loch Fyne Viking Festival is for you! Head to Argyll and enjoy four days of historically inspired Viking fun on the shores of Loch Fyne.

This area of Argyll has a rich Viking heritage. It’s thought that the Vikings were present either as raiders or rulers on much of the western seaboard of Scotland from around the late 8th century until the 13th century. The Vikings or Norsemen came from modern day Norway. Famously, in 1098 one particular Viking, Magnus Barefoot, claimed the ‘island’ of Kintyre. He was granted control by the Scottish King Edgar of all islands west of the mainland in exchange for peace. This reportedly gave him every island a ship could reach with its rudder set. Refusing to recognise the narrow strip of land which connects West and East Loch Tarbert, Magnus had his men carry him and his longship from west to east.

The Loch Fyne Viking Festival sees the re-enactment of Barefoot’s bid to claim Kintyre. This year Freydis – a replica 40 ft. Viking longship built by volunteers in Tarbert – will be joined by replica longships from Northern Ireland and Arran to form a Viking fleet. Rowed and sailed by local and visiting volunteers, the boats will carry Viking hordes to raid the villages of Ardrishaig, Inveraray, Lochgilphead, Portavadie and Tarbert. Each village will host a special event packed with Viking fun and games.

Watch as Glasgow Vikings - one of Scotland's oldest re-enactment groups - build a Viking settlement and re-enact Viking battles. Listen to Swedish band Medvind storytelling and playing Viking music. Have a go at Viking archery with Causeway Archers from Northern Ireland. Look out for the Tonsberg Vikings from Norway who will be dressed in traditional Viking costume and carrying traditional Viking weapons.

There are plenty of opportunities to see the Viking boats in action. On the first day (6th July) the longship fleet will sail from Tarbert up Loch Fyne to Inveraray and back. The next day (7th July) they’ll sail to Ardrishaig and back. On the third day Viking volunteers will re-enact Barefoot’s longship portage from West Loch Tarbert to East Loch Tarbert hauling Freydis overland. On the final day (9th July) the Viking fleet will sail the short distance across the loch from Tarbert to Portavadie and back.

On Saturday night it’s time to party with the Vikings in Tarbert! The village is hosting an open mike night featuring a range of local and national talent, as well as a performance from Medvind. And can we suggest an ale for your Viking night out? Fyne Ale’s Jarl, brewed at the head of Loch Fyne, is a cracking session beer named after the Norwegian Earls (Jarls).

Kintyre is a beautiful part of Argyll. The landscape is wild and rugged, making it easy to imagine the Vikings landing here all those years ago. Take the time to explore and you’ll discover stunning beaches, ancient forest and wildlife galore. And if you’re interested in pre-history, a visit to Kilmartin Glen should be near the top of your list of must-see attractions.

The Loch Fyne Viking Festival runs from from 5th to 9th July 2017. You might also be interested in the Tarbert Traditional Boat Festival on 14th to 16th July when over 40 traditional boats from all over the UK make their way to Tarbert.

Header photo: Mark Beaumont rowing the Viking ship during his Wild About Argyll adventure. Photo by Kieran Duncan.
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