Velkommen! Norsemen seize Owl’s Head Park for Viking fest

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Axes and shields: Festival-goers took the fun to the next level with elaborate costumes, shields, and weapons.
Sailing the hills: A Viking ship named the “Norseman” cruised into Owl’s Head Park with a crew of explorers.
Epic duel: Reenactors coated in armor charged at one another with blunted blades.
Always need bagpipes: A trio from the Clann Eireann Pipe Band filled the park with the sounds of pipes.

They took Bay Ridge by storm!

Norsemen invaded Owl’s Head Park for the 17th annual Viking Fest on May 22. The raiders sailed into the park on a giant Viking ship bringing Scandinavian art, medieval weapons demonstrations, and traditional music to the Ridge. It was a Nordic extravaganza that brought revellers from across the borough and city to celebrate all things Viking, said one fest-goer.

“There’s something really pure about the festival,” said Karen Dahlberg O’Connell, who is originally from Norway and has trekked to the fest from the distant isle of Manhattan with her husband and two young daughters for the last four years. “It’s a nice vibe, and we keep coming back, year after year, not so much for new stuff that we’re dying to see, but because we love what they do every year.”

Raiders from the 11th century clashed swords and shields during three different medieval re-enactments that pummeled Nordic history into the heads of gawking youngsters. Horned-helmet enthusiasts from the groups Historic Arms, Medieval Scenarios and Recreations, and the Brooklyn chapter of the Society For Creative Anachronism took to the field of faux-battle in their fiercest Viking garb.

And some inspired locals took the chance to dress as their favorite historical figures, said one cosplayer who dressed as Alric I King of the Visigoths.

“I’m into warrior culture, and I enjoy events that let me dress as different historical characters,” said Irving Morales, from the far-off realm of Queens who has previously dressed as Vlad the Impaler, Roman General Marc Antony, and as pirate captains at similar historic shindigs.

Tykes played traditional ring toss games, learned about Nordic crafts such as stick weaving, and of course, there were Swedish Meatballs — both the Nordic delicacy, and the guitar-and-accordion musical duo.

Bay Ridge’s Norwegian Constitution Day parade came the day after Viking Fest and revellers appreciated the Norwegian emphasis with flags peppered across the park and locals dressing up in their best bunads — a Scandinavian term for traditional garb.

“As a Norwegian citizen, I think it’s really important to celebrate the culture,” said O’Connell, who regularly visits her home country with her family, and whose daughters — Wren and Ronan — donned bunads and horned Viking hats during the affair. “There aren’t that many Norwegian celebrations, and it’s just a great opportunity to celebrate the culture.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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