Dazzling light show to launch 2023 Viking festival

Grimsby’s waterfront will be lit up for the exciting opening event of the town’s Viking festival, as the longships return for a second year.

More than 22,000 people attended the inaugural Grim Falfest in 2022 and organisers are looking forward to kicking off this year’s free, three-day event with a thrilling waterfront launch entitled ‘Grim’s Arrival: The Legend of Valhalla’.

Two Viking longboats will sail down the River Haven on the evening of Friday 8th September as part of a dramatic performance on the water that will build to the recreation of a dramatic Viking funeral. 

The event will begin with a procession of Viking villagers marching towards the River Haven slipway before a beacon is lit, drumming by the Humber Taiko Drummers begins to rumble through the air and the longships’ crew bring the tale of Grim back to life.

The audience – who will not need a ticket for the free event – will be able to watch the performance from the bank of the river, close to the Fishing Heritage Centre. Food and drink stalls will also feature as North Lincolnshire turns out to once again celebrate its Viking heritage.

The waterfront show will kickstart the long weekend of Viking activity across the town. The full Grim FalFest schedule can be found here.

A Viking horse display, battles, weapons display and young warrior training are all among the activities taking place across the weekend, as well as food stalls and traditional crafts.

The event was created by the Visitor Economy Services and Retail group (VESR CIC), delivered by Heritage Lincolnshire, and is supported and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Julia Thompson, chair of VESR CIC said: “We are delighted to be able to build on the incredible success of last year’s event. Grim had disappeared into history and it’s great to see the Vikings once again return to Grimsby and bring his tale back to life.

“We’ve been working hard to keep every event free of charge so families, children and visitors can come along, meet the Vikings and see what life would have been like for Grim and his Vikings. I’m so looking forward to see Grim’s Town in St James’ Square and Havelok’s Village in People’s Park.”

Grim FalFest brings the 1,000-year-old story of Grim the Viking to life, including his legendary escape alongside Danish royalty – Prince Havelock – and his role as founder of the town we know today.

Alysha Sargent, event manager for Grim FalFest, said: “We have been overwhelmed with the kind comments we have received from the community since we shared the news of Grim’s return.

“The success of last year and the hugely positive reaction to news of Grim FalFest 2023’s launch has shown us how much of an appetite the people of Grimsby have for learning more about their heritage and getting hands on with history. We can’t wait to see you all there!”

Helen Featherstone, director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We are delighted to support VESR CIC and Heritage Lincolnshire with this spectacular event, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players. Grimsby is an Area of Focus for the Heritage Fund and we’re proud to see this grant being used to bring local people and visitors together to celebrate Grimsby’s rich Viking heritage, demonstrating why it is a town to be truly proud of.”

Unlike last year, Riverhead Square will not be used due to ongoing regeneration work.

The build-up to the event begins with summer holiday Viking activities for children at Freshney Place Shopping Centre. Follow @grimfalfest on social media to keep in touch with all the latest from the festival and to find out more about these events.

Opportunities are open for sponsors, traders and volunteers who would like to be involved in Grim FalFest 2023. Anyone wanting to take part can register their interest by emailing info@grimfalfest.com