At the height of summer, there are those who cannot wait to grab a towel, a swimming costume, and a pair of flip-flops and head off for hot climes and sun-kissed beaches.

There are others, however, who would prefer to don a stylish cloak, some furs, and a war-scarred helmet and run screaming into battle. For anyone who falls into the latter camp, here are ten of the best festivals for July and August. 

In the tranquil village of Sandur on Sandoy Island, Festívalhöll offers visitors a chance to learn about Viking history in one of Europe's most remote festival locations. Photo: Eydfinnur / Shutterstock

Festívalhöll, Faroe Islands, July 5-7 

Possibly the most peaceful and scenic festival of the summer, Festívalhöll takes place in the village of Sandur on the Faroese island of Sandoy from July 5-7.

The event is free and gives visitors the chance to learn about Viking history in one of the most remote festival locations in Europe. It features a Viking village, duels between warriors, battle reenactments, and a special market with wares from the Viking Age.

Visitors can explore various activities and displays at the festival to gain a deeper understanding of the Viking history of the Faroe Islands.

On the Wednesday prior to the festival itself, visitors can also try their hand at embroidery with a unique course demonstrating the techniques used to create the famous Bayeux Tapestry.

At the Viking Fortress Trelleborg in Denmark, the Trelleborg Viking Festival features horse shows, craft demonstrations, costume making, and the dramatic Battle of Trelleborg with 250 warriors. Photo: Pudelek (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Trelleborg Viking Festival, Denmark, July 13-21 

One of the biggest Viking festivals in Denmark, the Trelleborg Viking Festival takes place at the stunning Viking Fortress Trelleborg, which was recently declared a World Heritage Site.

The one-week event includes horse shows, craft demonstrations, and costume making, as well as free guided tours of the historic surroundings.

The highlight, however, is surely the Battle of Trelleborg, which takes place at 1 pm from July 18-21 and sees 250 Viking warriors clash in a fierce contest. 

The Kynren event in Bishop Auckland, England, features a spectacular Viking assault and a Viking village with a working forge and market, amidst a broader historical narrative. Photo: Kynren – An Epic Tale of England

Kynren, England, various dates throughout the summer 

Though not strictly a Viking-themed event, Kynren – An Epic Tale of England is a spectacular live outdoor performance that takes place on the grounds of a farm in Bishop Auckland, northern England. 

The show, which features dozens of animals and a cast of hundreds of actors and extras, presents some of the most important moments in the history of Britain over the last 2,000 years.

One of the highlights is an all-action Viking assault on an Anglo-Saxon settlement, while this year's event will also see the return of the Viking village in the lead-up to the evening show, complete with a working forge and a bustling market. 

The Starke Viking competition on Björkö island offers strength contests, including the women-exclusive Valkyria class and the grueling Birka's Elddop, with accommodations and a special boat from Stockholm for the grand finale. Photo: Birka Vikingastaden

Starke Viking strength competition at Birka, Sweden, July 24-27 

For something a little different, why not try heading to the island of Björkö in Sweden?

Here, you will find the Viking settlement of Birka, which every summer plays host to Starke Viking, a raw strength competition that sees women and men compete to be crowned the mightiest of them all.

The competition includes the Valkyria class – exclusively for women – Light and Heavy, Open, and Birka's Elddop. The latter is the ultimate test of strength, as the contestants compete over four days in up to five disciplines before the champion is eventually crowned.

Accommodation is available on the island throughout the event, and a special boat will depart from Stockholm to Björkö on July 27 for those who want to cruise into town for the grand finale. 

At Moesgaard Strand, Moesgaard Viking Days in Denmark offers campfire building, bread baking, Norse dancing, storytelling, craft demonstrations, and weapons training. Photo: RhinoMind (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Moesgaard Viking Days, Denmark, July 25-28 

Organized by the Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus, Denmark, Moesgaard Viking Days is a four-day event that provides adults and children alike with real insight into how people lived during the Viking Age.

Held at the seaside location of Moesgaard Strand, Moesgaard Viking Days features a host of hands-on activities, from building campfires to baking bread and Norse dancing, as well as storytelling, craft demonstrations, and weapons training.

Other high points include discovery sandbox digs where children can play as junior archeologists and a vibrant Viking square filled with revelers, jugglers, and Norse bands performing on Viking Age period instruments

The Valhalla Viking Festival in Basingstoke, England, offers archery, axe throwing, blacksmithing, Viking tattoos, hair and makeup sessions, and battle reenactments. Photo: Valhalla Viking Festival

Valhalla Viking Festival, England, July 28-30 

Run by the Skull Vikings, a UK-based online store, the Valhalla Viking Festival takes place at the end of July at Dummer Down Farm in Basingstoke, England. 

There will be plenty of the usual fun and games to look forward to, as visitors have the chance to try their hand at archery, axe throwing, and becoming a blacksmith.

You can also opt for Viking tattoos, hair and makeup sessions, battle reenactments, willow weaving, and period music, not to mention authentic Viking Age food and gallons of mead at the Valhalla Feast Hall. 

The Viking Festival of Catoira, located in the coastal town of Catoira, Spain, offers visitors Viking ships, seaside battles, and Norse-themed performances near the Torres de Oeste fortress. Photo: Reservas de Coches (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Viking Festival of Catoira, Spain, August 1-4 

The small town of Catoira in Galicia celebrates the settlement's role in defending the region against Viking attacks in the 9th century.

At the Viking Festival of Catoira, visitors can marvel at Norse-themed theatrical performances, imposing Viking ships, and intense seaside battles alongside semi-traditional market stalls, live music, and fire-breathing displays.

The festival takes place in a scenic coastal setting dominated by the Torres de Oeste fortress.

Although there is scant historical and archeological detail about what exactly happened when the Vikings came to Spain, there can be no doubting the authenticity or longevity of the festival, which has been held since 1961. 

The Festival of Slavs and Vikings on Poland’s Wolin island features some of the fiercest Viking battles, along with themed games, and an open-air museum. Photo: Jakub T. Jankiewicz (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Festival of Slavs and Vikings, Poland, August 1-4 

To get a feel for the Viking Age's frequent cultural clashes and blends, we recommend heading to the Festival of Slavs and Vikings on the Polish island of Wolin in the Baltic Sea.

The island, which many believe to be the site of the semi-mythical Viking settlement of Jomsborg, is home to an open-air museum that presents elements of both Norse and Slavic culture.

The food, historical talks, and various themed games are all great fun, of course, but the daily pitched battles between the Vikings and Slavs at 4 pm are what truly stand out – some say they are the fiercest of any Viking festival in the world. 

Gimli, Manitoba, hosts the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, featuring a Viking village, shield wall training for children, and combat demonstrations, celebrating the town's Icelandic heritage. Photo: Krazytea (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, Canada, August 2-5 

This unique festival in the central Canadian province of Manitoba celebrates the region's Icelandic heritage in the small coastal town of Gimli.

The first group of settlers arrived in Gimli from Iceland in 1875 in search of fishing work at the coast. The province enjoyed several subsequent waves of Icelandic immigration and today has a substantial and extremely proud population of Icelandic origin.

2024 will see the 135th edition of the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, as locals, friends from Iceland, and tourists alike get together to celebrate the links between the two countries.

Although much of the event is dedicated to more modern aspects of Icelandic-Canadian culture, there is nevertheless a Viking village to enjoy, shield wall training for children, and combat demonstrations every afternoon. 

The Tønsberg Viking Festival in Norway, set in the country's oldest town, features an authentic Viking market, various activities, and a fleet of Viking ships, including a replica of the Saga Oseberg. Photo: Tønsberg Viking Festival

Tønsberg Viking Festival, Norway, August 8-11 

As detailed in The Viking Herald last year, the Tønsberg Viking Festival could hardly have a more suitable setting for a Norse-themed event.

Situated on the waterfront of the oldest town in Norway – Tønsberg is believed to have been founded in the 9th century by Harald Fairhair – the festival attracts thousands of local and international visitors to savor its authentic Viking market and take part in a range of Viking-themed activities.

The real highlight of the Tønsberg Viking Festival is the fleet of Viking ships on display in the harbor, including a replica of the Saga Oseberg. 

The Saga Oseberg itself is an exact replica of the original Oseberg ship, which was discovered in a burial mound just outside Tønsberg and is one of the most significant Viking Age finds.

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