The annual Viking Festival in Portadown brings to life the 400 years when the Vikings inhabited the area - from clothes and crafts to battles and history it welcomes visiting into another time and world

They make their way down the river to the landing in Portadown. Longboats filled with Vikings dressed in tunics and pelts and carrying colorful shields are on a mission.  They dock, and head for the encampment just up the hill, where Vikings of all ages welcome visitors to their world.

Teenage Viking in Portadown

Teenage Viking in Portadown

It is a tent-city complete with a blacksmith, jewelers, crafters, artists and musicians, all in braids, tattoos, and dress from the 400 years when Vikings inhabited this are in Northern Ireland. And they return every year to celebrate.

the Viking village in Portadown.

the Viking village in Portadown.

Portadown is actually one stop in what has become a summer- long circuit of Viking celebrations tracking where Vikings lived across Europe and into Scandinavia.  Many of the participants travel the circuit as a summer’s adventure. Some make a living at their craftwork and art pedaling it as they go, as the interest in Vikings has grown with the History Channel’s series called Vikings, with other documentaries about the times and with the fantasy series Game of Thrones that touches on Viking art, dress and jewelry.

Read more: Why History Channel's "Vikings" is so beloved in Ireland

Docking in Portadown

Docking in Portadown

“We’ve definitely seen a rise in interest in these festivals,” says Viking Paul Kavanagh who puts on the annual Viking Festival in Portadown. “The village is growing every time we do this, and so is the audience for what we do and what we sell.”

Conner Sweeney of Valhallas Silver

Conner Sweeney of Valhallas Silver

Kavanagh is a boat builder and his team of craftsmen built the longboats used at the Village which are also used in Vikings.

“One day we got a call asking if we had Viking boats, and if we could build larger ones for the show the History Channel was putting together. We did, and many of those here taking visitors for rides do exactly this in the show. They make sure the actors are safe and that the boats are historic and run as they would have been centuries ago.

Read more: How the Vikings forever changed Ireland

Viking jewelry in Portadown

Viking jewelry in Portadown

“A lot of people come in asking for the jewelry designs they’ve seen on Vikings, or in Game of Thrones. They know what they mean and they know what they want. And everything here is authentic,” says Conner Sweeney who travels the circuit with Valhallas Silver.  “We’ll be here a week, and then head through Germany to Denmark and then on to Sweden. And there is time in between each festival to visit rock formations and historical sites we want to see along the way,” he says.

Sweeney casts all his own bronze and silver and he says demand for it has never been higher.

Clash of the Vikings in Poprtadown

Clash of the Vikings in Poprtadown

There are battles where leaders and armies trade-off with strategies, some very organized in their attacks… and others appearing to be complete chaos. Viking music plays in the background setting the stage, crowd cheer for different factions. It’s a lot like the civil war reenactments in the United States.  And those taking part shop for chainmail, have their swords sharpened, show off their shields and take pride in their heritage.

Armies test each other in Portadown

Armies test each other in Portadown

Even the music sounds and looks authentic. 

One of the Viking entertainers

One of the Viking entertainers

It’s an exchange between Vikings, a revival of Viking crafts and an immersion into history all at once.

Read more: Irish have more Viking and Norman DNA than previously thought, reports genetic study

You can hear the Vikings in action on the battlefield, in their longboats, and sharing their history by visiting www.erinmeehanbreen.com.

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ErinMeehanBreen.comViking warriors waiting their turn on the battlefield in Portadown.