Review: The JORVIK Viking Centre, reimagined

As you’d expect after a four million pound re-imagining, the world-famous Viking attraction – one of the jewels in York’s crown (or Viking helmet) – is looking good. All signs of the devastating floods are gone, replaced by a fantastic visitor experience that’s both new and exciting but reassuringly familiar. You start your visit in the stunning Discover Coppergate gallery where video, photography and memorabilia tell the story of the Coppergate Dig and the race against time to complete the excavations before work started to build the new shopping centre. Don’t forget to look down, where the enormous glass floor shows off preserved Viking-age timbers. Kids will love getting hands-on and having a go at a bit of digital archaeology with the interactive touch-screens.
If there’s one thing that little visitors always remember from their visit to the JORVIK Viking Centre, it’s the ride back in time through Viking-age York. Clamber into the time capsule – updated to include many more language options and with a screen that highlights key objects to watch out for – and travel back to Jorvik circa AD960 (children can borrow a lantern if the dark bothers them). We listened to the children’s commentary which gives kids a great insight into the Viking cityscape from a child’s perspective, using words they’ll understand and pointing out things that will appeal (not least the constipated man!). It’s very engaging and brings the whole experience to life, as well as dealing with occasional parts that some children might find difficult – like the ill woman having the last rites read to her – in a low key, matter-of-fact way.
Also bringing the cityscape to life are the fantastic new animatronics and the authentic sounds and smells of the Viking age. Keep your eye out for the hunter and his dog, the tattooed blacksmith and his son and the saga teller telling stories of Norse legends by the fire in his house. There’s even a real-life Viking! See if you can spot which one it is.
After the ride, it’s your chance to see some amazing artefacts for yourself in the new gallery. Marvel at the tiny spoons, musical instruments and intricate bonework, or even see a Viking poo! Visit in the first four weeks of opening and you’ll also see the incredible Anglo Saxon helmet buried during the Viking period just metres from where it’s being displayed. Learn more through the touch screens, get hands-on in the handling areas and see a Viking striking coins.
Speak to an adult who visited the JORVIK Viking Centre as a child and they’ll drift into a daydream as they recall their first encounter with the sights and smells of Viking York. It’s an experience you’ll never forget, and this new, improved version is the perfect introduction to all things Viking for a whole new generation.
JORVIK Viking Centre is open daily from 10.00am to 5.00pm (last admissions) until 31 October, and from 10.00am to 4.00pm from November to March. From the 8th April and throughout Easter JORVIK will be open 10am to 6:30pm (last admissions). Tickets can be pre-booked online at the new JORVIK website, www.jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk. Ticket prices remain the same as they did before JORVIK closed in December 2015: £10.25 for adults, £8.25 for concessions and £7.25 for children. Family tickets are available for £30.95 (two adults and two children) or £32.95 (two adults and three children). Full price tickets are valid for unlimited repeat visits for 12 months from the date of issue. Joint tickets are also available with other attractions in the JORVIK Group – please visit the website for details.

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