Interactive reenactment groups, Viking-themed performances, and traditional Scandinavian music and dance will all feature at The Viking Experience Festival over the weekend of March 23-24 at The Barn at Vino in Stem, North Carolina. 

This Norse-inspired entertainment is being presented by a huge cast and a tight-knit family group headed by Angela Reid and her daughters. 

Of Danish origin, Angela has been fascinated by Viking history and culture ever since her grandmother regaled her with tales of Norse legends

Scandinavian generations 

Angela has since passed on these stories to her children, inspiring the clan to create their own communal event around them. 

Currently, everyone is hard at work preparing the site for the thousands of visitors expected this month, with the festival growing from strength to strength every year. 

While this will be the biggest festival yet – with streamlined parking, online-only ticket sales, limited day ticket availability, enhanced facilities, and a special Saturday evening ticket that includes unique lakeside entertainment – 2025 promises to be a whole different ball game. 

Moving from their current site, Angela and her family will take over 80 acres of farmland they purchased in Oxford, North Carolina, 11 miles and a 25-minute drive away. 

The new location will give them far more scope to stage more ambitious festivals in years to come. 

As Angela now tells The Viking Herald: "It's not about the numbers, it's about the quality."

"I saw a question on Reddit where somebody asked, 'Why are Americans so obsessed with genealogy?' We're reminded a lot that we aren't really from here." 

"There's a part of us that is a little bit, 'So where are we from, then?' We tend to grab hold of that, probably more than Europeans would because we want to feel that we have a history." 

"My family were the Christensens from Denmark. That's the history that I grew up with, and that's what started my interest." 

"We got into it a few years ago when we got involved with another group and event. The owner of that has recently passed, but we were friends with her, helping her out." 

"It was about five hours from us, so we thought, 'We could bring this down here.'" 

"During the pandemic, we just started meeting in my yard. We could gather outside. And it kind of built from there." 

"I'm a photographer, so during Covid, we decided to do these camping weekends for our Viking friends to come." 

"We'd all be outdoors to comply with Covid rules, just to get together. We had more meet-ups, and after about a year, we decided we could probably go ahead and put on a festival." 

"The concept was worked out between my daughter Hanna, the red-headed queen in our story, and me. She's a part-owner with me and co-owns part of the land up there." 

"I have six children, and Sara and Becca are also actively involved. Everyone else comes to help, and my husband is the land manager."

"There are 50 people in the cast, and we have to limit it. It's invitation-only, with trained actors, so we have a pretty good-sized cast for our group." 

From its inception on a small three-acre site planning for 1,000 attendees to attracting 6,000 people by its second year, the Viking Experience festival has become one of the county's largest events. Photo: The Viking Experience NC

From small acorns 

"We've experienced phenomenal growth. For our first year, we were on three acres, and we thought, 'We're going to plan for 1,000 people.'" 

"Then the county tourism board really got behind us, and we're now one of the biggest festivals in our county." 

"Our county looks after us; they really promoted our event, put up billboards, etc. So, that first year, instead of getting 1,000 people, we got 3,000." 

"For the second year, normal growth would have been about 4,000 people, but they featured us on the local news, so we got 6,000." 

"But it's not about the numbers; it's about the quality. We don't have the desire to be the biggest; we have the desire to be a quality festival where people come and feel like they've had an experience." 

"This will be the biggest of our festivals so far. Last year, we had ten different entertainment and reenactment groups who were camping. This year, we've got 20." 

"We're expanding our field by a whole third. In terms of our numbers, we're using a venue that we've kind of outgrown, but we're trying to make it work this year, so we're not necessarily pushing for numbers." 

"We'll probably do about the same, but our customer base has grown." 

Through engaging shows and interactive campfire stories, the Viking Experience festival aims to transport attendees back in time, offering a simpler lifestyle and a break from modern solitude. Photo: The Viking Experience NC

Around the campfire 

"When we get together for one of our weekends, we're just living the life. Maybe we're historically accurate, and maybe we're not; we're just having fun." 

"We're a mental break from the outside world, and that's what we want to offer." 

"We like to emphasize that we are an entertainment group. We work with reenactors, and the reenactors' purpose is to teach. Our purpose is to entertain." 

"People don't have to be of Scandinavian or Viking heritage to be part of our group." 

"In this day and age, we all live in our single-family homes, working away, and our makeup, for most of our history, is to live in small villages and clans, small groups and tribes." 

"I think people need something like this to get back in touch with being part of a smaller group of people, to get back in touch with a simpler lifestyle." 

"The shows are a great way to introduce the concept to the public. It's attractive. What we try to do with our events is have them watch the shows. We want them to feel like they're back in time." 

"They sit by the campfire, smelling of smoke as they hear stories and become part of the village over the weekend. They aren't bystanders, they interact." 

"To me, it gives people a mental vacation – it's a little bit of an alternate world, with a strong education base." 

"And even if we're trying to be historically accurate, we really don't know. We can try all we want to make it look like how it was, but in reality, we're all just speculating." 

"We really want people to have a joyful feeling, most of all. Joy, love, and acceptance. This is something different; there is a lot of free flow to it." 

"Renaissance fairs are really popular right now, so we're kind of a spinoff from that. Americans enjoy getting in touch with all that, they enjoy learning, as well as the tribal feel of it." 

The festival's move to an 80-acre site in Oxford, North Carolina, signifies a major expansion, with plans for a Viking-themed park and facilities to accommodate larger crowds and more immersive experiences. Photo: The Viking Experience NC

Onwards to Oxford 

"We've also bought 80 acres of farmland in Oxford, North Carolina. My husband is there right now, working on the land, getting it opened up." 

"It was a farm, but it was a tree farm, so it had old trees on it. We're getting rid of a lot of the little trees, and we're going to leave the big ones for a park-like setting for the festival."

"These will be developed as Viking-themed event grounds. Other historical groups might want to rent it. Thankfully, we do have a festival that is profitable, so that gives us a base." 

"It's only about 25 minutes from where we live currently, so we'll be moving there." 

"At the new site, for 2025, we're going to do two weekends. We feel like there's enough demand for that. Our main focus right now is just to get the ground stabilized for tents." 

"Our vision for the future is to go ahead and build things. We've got a pond planned for the property, and there'll be a great hall right off that pond." 

"We'll have about ten acres of festival grounds, and we have an area to expand, and about ten acres for parking."

"In terms of timing, we're going to stick with March. We always plan for rain – but whatever the event, there are always issues. You hold it later, and it's 90 degrees (32°C), and mosquitoes."

"Last year, it was Saturday morning when we went to open, and it was absolutely pouring rain, but there was a huge line to get in. They just brought umbrellas." 

"We try to provide extra tenting. March seems to be a nice balance for us." 

"We prefer to deal with the rain and have everything cool enough, plus we're one of the first festivals as far as the season is concerned. People have been hibernating all winter and are always ready for this." 

The Viking Experience Festival, March 23-24 at The Barn at Vino, 3200 Bliss Trail, Stem, North Carolina. Online ticket sales only.

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