Each year, a Viking village is set up and opened to the public so that visitors can see what life would have been like in a 13th-century Viking village.

Festivalgoers will be able to learn how people of the time made their clothes, weapons, jewelry, and food. Resident Vikings will also share information about their religion, beliefs, homes, crafts, ships, and homeland.

In the Battle of Largs, Scotland's King Alexander III fought the Vikings, led by King Haakon IV. Douglas Blair, one of the directors of the festival's committee, believes the battle shaped Scotland.

"Without that battle, I'm not so sure Scotland would exist because if we had been defeated, then the whole western seaboard would have been under Norse control.

"The country might have disintegrated because England was also attacking the south of Scotland at the time. It would certainly appear that we were assisted by adverse weather, which allowed the Scots to attack the Vikings on the beach.

"It maybe doesn't take as much of the spotlight as other battles, but it was crucial. I don't think we'd have had Bannockburn without the Battle of Largs," Blair told the National.

Free trip on a Viking longship

On August 27 and 28, visitors can take a free trip in a Viking longboat.

"The longship is coming over from Belfast and will be taking trips up and down the Clyde. A lot of the events tend to be free. 

"I think that helps people at the minute, and it means they can spend their money elsewhere in town. It's really a community-led event," Blair added.

Locals and visitors are looking forward to this year's festival, as the edition of 201 was restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Festival visitors will be able to learn how people of the time made their clothes, weapons, jewelry, and food. Photo: Largs Viking Festival

 "Initially, the festival was really just designed to attract tourism. It started off with the odd little concert, but then it started to develop into more of an event that takes place over two weekends.

"We get people coming from various parts of the UK. It was just a local event at first, but it's now spreading. 

"We've done studies in terms of footfall, and it usually brings an extra 70,000 people or so into the town across the two weekends. It allows people to come to the town and stay a bit longer and spend a few more pounds," Blair accentuated.

Furthermore, school parties from various parts of the country are likely to visit the festival by September 4. 

"I think a lot of younger people are getting better at understanding Scottish history and how it fits in with the rest of the world."

Local references to Vikings

There are numerous references to Vikings in the town of Largs, including street names, the amusement arcade, and the Viking who stands outside the Main Street chippie, as the festival's website points out.

The metal statue of Magnus the Viking was put in place on the Prom in 2013 to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Largs. 

There is also more serious commemoration, such as the Vikingar, an interactive exhibit with storytellers telling Viking tales and myths, and the yearly Håkon Håkonsson Lecture. 

In conclusion, Blair stated that the festival is also working on an exciting new project. 

"We've had some grants which will help us build our own longship. It will be held at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine.

"It's great because it's helped local craftspeople to hone their skills. Not a lot of people can say they've built a longship. It's still in the early stages but will be used for events in the future," he pointed out.

The Festival Takes place on Largs Promenade just opposite Nardinis. Largs is less than an hour by road from Glasgow and 40 minutes from Glasgow International Airport. Trains run to/from Largs hourly. More information can be found here.

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