What is the future of viking reenactment?

I have been asked a couple of times by fellow reenactors online, but also at one of the very few training events that I went to this year, what I think will happen next year: Will event XY take place? Will we have a Wolin, will we have a season?

I thought long about this, and I think we as viking reenactors will have to come to terms with the fact that

we will not have a season next season, or in 2022.

Maybe not for the years to come, either. Large events like Wolin, the Hedeby Summer Market, Neustadt-Glewe or the market in Schlotzau which was organized by a dear friend, will in all likelyhood not take place in the same form as this year.

It’s the end of October, and this is the time where many markets begin their application process. Forms are sent out, people plan for next year, with a fresh memory of all the great events in the past season motivating them to craft and train in winter. This year, however, we are heading into another lockdown, and there is no betterment in sight.

Market organizers need to prepare for events, and the number of items to prepare is seemingly endless. The most important prerequisites, however, are the venue and the participants. Neither can be prepared for 2021.

Venues for early medieval reenactment events in Germany (and I think in many other parts of Europe) are either publicly-owned museums, public parks or private properties (for example acres or private parks). I cannot imagine that any museum curator, public servant or private landowner would want to engage in discussions about hosting a medieval or viking market while being in lockdown – it’s just totally out of everyone’s scope right now. I imagine that this would be the main hindrance for events in 2021.

Participants, however, have issues of their own. After a year of homeschooling, childcare, loss of income due to coronavirus, and continued uncertainty, many will find themselves unable or unwilling to engage in planning for markets. Each event requires taking days off work, often considerable travel distances, and substantial planning and work by participants. And that’s not even including the packing and unpacking, the gear repair and so on.
How can one plan for an event if ongoing discussion is afoot to change the length and placement of summer holidays – the core timeframe for viking events? How can I plan a week off for festivals when I’m neither sure I’ll be allowed to travel there nor if I might have to home-school my children?
I think we will see that participants will be more reluctant to commit to events early, making event planning harder, and carrying a higher risk for event organizers: If participation is low, a vicious circle starts that might well doom an otherwise healthy event within a few years.

So what can we do?

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. I think that – if we accept the inevitable – we can find new ways.

In my opinion, the viking reenactment community should start thinking seriously about alternative formats and methods of gathering, doing the hobby, and staying safe with the virus. Having a battle with 500 participants, shoulder to shoulder, is not going to happen. Small living history events, in museums or on private property, might work (or might pose an incredible risk, we just don’t know yet).

What I would love to see is a lively discussion about things that could work, concepts that could be approved by the authorities, methods of living history that would be fun while not being a super-spreading event. And for winter (and subsequent lockdown periods), ways to connect not only with your local peer group, but with larger parts of the reenactment community, apart from the occasional „virtual market“ which is mainly sales-oriented.

What has already been done? What are your ideas? I would love to read about them – leave a comment or engage with us on Facebook. I’ll collect the most inspiring ideas from all comment threads and post them in this article.

Am I seeing things to gloomy? I’d love to be convinced otherwise – comment and let’s discuss!

Dieser Eintrag wurde veröffentlicht in Uncategorized von Christopher. Setze ein Lesezeichen zum Permalink.

Über Christopher

I have been doing viking-age reenactment since 2011. I have seen many places and battlefields in Europe, and am constantly working on my Birka kit (soft kit: Eastern-influenced high-ranking officer, hard kit: the same, only with sword and shield). I do my own research and write much of the content on this page.

4 Gedanken zu „What is the future of viking reenactment?

  1. I honestly understand where you are coming from, and having attended some of these larger events in Europe it may seem doubtful that they will happen next year.
    But my take on it is
    1) it will give groups a chance to strengthen the bonds and community
    2) work on improving aspects of public displays shows
    or a chance to just enjoy the company of other reenactors without being on public display.
    Covid will pass and we will be able to get back to our hobby

  2. It is too pessimistic a view of what it could be. There is nothing written in the near future. The virus will go away and, for better or worse, activities will resume, including the re-enactment. Because people need it as much as we do, if not more. The re-enactment will certainly not end in a virus or terrorism. None of this can stop people’s willingness to escape from reality and cultivate their passions. Let’s not get caught up in the despair that now rages all over the world. We will restart in any case.

  3. well said.
    I don’t think the article is negative or that hope leads to disappointment.
    For me, this is also the time when the wheat separates from the chaff. Especially from a professional point of view as a stand operator.
    The hobbyistic competition for us seriously independent has become too big. All these „I don’t have to earn money with it, that’s why I sell everything cheaper than you“ fractions hopefully drop out a little. I’m sorry about that? Doesn’t this change the picture of the market in my opinion?No, there will always be good craftsmanship and that is what makes a good market.
    Here we are with Sara who asked if reenactment is tied to an event and she is right.
    For me reenactment is a matter of attitude. Do I mean it seriously and do I want to learn to be as accurate as possible and know as much as possible about what I am doing?
    Of course it’s nice to be able to „execute“ all your equipment and not just tinker with it at home.
    However, many museum appointments are a nice place to meet like-minded people, to exchange ideas and to learn a lot there as well – and yes, we still have fun. You can, provided you have a good presentation, meet in many museums also in small, family groups, move into the houses and have a small event there for a few days. You just have to book in time. Many museums offer this, not only early medieval ones.

    As a market organizer, I have been working on new and constantly changing hygiene concepts since this spring.
    The museum has invested a lot of money to be able to do online ticketing in the remote area. This allows us to limit the number of visitors and the time they spend there and to meet the requirements more easily. Fiber optic cables were laid, people were trained, new hardware was purchased, and then they were closed again.
    This is hard, because financially they have not yet recovered from the first closure.
    Of course, I very much hope that we can have a market again next year.
    For the stand operators, who really make their own living from it, for the re-enactors, who want to expand their equipment, meet, fight, just store together, be together again.
    We will start our registration procedure as usual in the middle of December and keep our fingers crossed.
    Even if I personally don’t see it that way yet, hope is always there.
    And I will not give up working on it. As soon as we are allowed again we are ready.

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