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Popular Viking festival on Norfolk coast is cancelled for next year

PUBLISHED: 11:00 05 November 2020 | UPDATED: 12:25 05 November 2020

A scene from the boat-burning on the beach during the 2020 Sheringham Scira Viking Festival.
 Photo: KAREN BETHELL

A scene from the boat-burning on the beach during the 2020 Sheringham Scira Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

While hordes of Vikings marauding these shores once sparked panic and fear, they now draw thousands of curious spectators.

Viking Festival founder Colin Seal (left) with artist Brian Lewis, who painted a decorative head for the centrepiece longboat.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLViking Festival founder Colin Seal (left) with artist Brian Lewis, who painted a decorative head for the centrepiece longboat. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

But one of the north Norfolk coast’s biggest winter events - the Sheringham Scira Viking Festival - has sadly had to be cancelled for 2021 due to the pandemic.

Colin Seal, who founded the festival in 2014, said though it could not go ahead as usual next February, there was a chance smaller Viking-themed events might be able to be staged later on in the year to make up for it.

Mr Seal said: “Unfortunately we have cancelled it.

“The [carnival] committee is going to adapt and make the best of a bad situation.

Flame torch-wielding warriors on the march at the 2020 Sheringham's Scira Viking Festival finale. 
Photo: KAREN BETHELLFlame torch-wielding warriors on the march at the 2020 Sheringham's Scira Viking Festival finale. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

“That’s what we do, and that’s what the Vikings did.”

The week-long festival usually draws thousands of visitors to the town. Events include axe-throwing competitions, combat and craft demonstrations, re-tellings of Norse myths and children’s workshops.

The festival culminates in a parade and the burning of a Viking longboat on the beach.

MORE: Thousands turn out for Viking Festival finale

Most of the 28ft-long (8.5 metre) boat that would have been burned at next year’s festival has already been built by Henry Howe, and has a decorative head painted by Brian Lewis.

The boat burning on the beach at the 2020 Sheringham's Scira Viking Festival finale.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLThe boat burning on the beach at the 2020 Sheringham's Scira Viking Festival finale. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Mr Seal said the boat would be wrapped up for winter and would possibly go on display next year, before being used for the 2021 festival.

He said: “It’s the biggest boat we’ve ever made and it’s going to be decorated better than ever before.

“For this one we’ll have more time to work on the minutia and details, because we love doing it.

The festival is grounded in local history - the name Sheringham is believed to have originated from an Old Norse word for a Viking lord - Scira - with ‘heim’, the Norse term for home.

The 28ft longship on its way to the seafront at a previous Sheringham Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELLThe 28ft longship on its way to the seafront at a previous Sheringham Viking Festival. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

The festival is organised by the Sheringham Carnival committee, which also takes the lead on a number of other events throughout the year in the town.

Flame torch-wielding warriors on the march at Sheringham's Scira Viking Festival finale.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLFlame torch-wielding warriors on the march at Sheringham's Scira Viking Festival finale. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

A make-your-own Viking mask, sword and shield workshop held at Oddfellows Hall as part of the annual Scira Viking Festival in 2020.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLA make-your-own Viking mask, sword and shield workshop held at Oddfellows Hall as part of the annual Scira Viking Festival in 2020. Photo: KAREN BETHELL


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