A traditional seaside resort on the Firth of Clyde, Largs boasts a quaint Victorian promenade and a charming array of ice cream parlours.
But once a year, these genteel streets ring with the clanging sounds of battle as swords, axes and spears are wielded – by Vikings, no less!
This is the Largs Viking Festival, which marks the anniversary of the last mainland battle between Scots and Norse warriors, fought in the town in 1263.
From 1098, the Hebrides and most of modern-day Argyll and Bute was under Norwegian command. However, in the 13th Century, Scots ruler Alexander III initiated a war that led to Scottish forces engaging the Vikings at the Battle of Largs 758 years ago. Although the encounter was a stalemate, it heralded the end of Norse influence in the west.
King Haakon IV and his fleet headed back to Norway, but their progress was hampered by bad weather. In December 1263, Haakon died on Orkney.
His successor, Magnus IV, abandoned his claim on the islands in exchange for a substantial payment, ending the era of Norse invasion.
This battle has been commemorated with the annual festival since 1980.
Alex Gallagher, chairman of the Largs Viking Festival board, says: “The festival brings great energy and enthusiasm to the town – it encourages and promotes a spirit of community and togetherness, which is felt throughout the area.”
As well as the live event itself, there are also plans for a digital festival – providing a virtual taste of the event.
The festival’s compound will bring a 13th-Century settlement to life, with periodic skirmishes as groups of warriors clash or one-on-one combat takes place.
There will be food, drink and craft traders indoors on weekdays, with more stalls outdoors on the event’s two weekend dates, with a wide range of local, Scottish and other traders – including street food and Viking arts, crafts and weaponry.
Fighter plane battle
Fast-forwarding from medieval warfare to the 1940s Battle of Britain, an exciting addition to the festival will see an aerial display re-enact the decisive Second World War conflict in the skies.
Visitors will watch a Spitfire, Hurricane and a Dakota perform individual and combined formation flying in the display by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
A seaplane will also fly by in tribute to the town’s wartime connections with Catalinas – the US-built “flying boat”.
When: August 28 – September 5
How Much: Adults – £5; Children/Students/Over-60s – £3; Under-5s – Free. Might need to be pre-booked.
Where: The Promenade, Bath Street, Largs, KA30 8BS
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe