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Historical Re-enactments: The Production and Design of Viking Festival Experiences

Historical Re-enactments: The Production and Design of Viking Festival Experiences

By Deimantė Jurevičiūtė and Waleed Muhammad

Master’s Thesis, University of Stavanger, 2014

Viking and Slavic Festival in Volin - photo by Jakub T. Jankiewicz / Flickr
Viking and Slavic Festival in Volin – photo by Jakub T. Jankiewicz / Flickr

Abstract: Viking Age is a fascinating story, history – it’s international and everybody knows about it. The Viking tourism has grown since the 70’s and has its origins in the wider development of heritage tourism in Europe. This thesis takes focus on Viking Age re-enactments, since most of them are situated in Scandinavian countries. The main idea behind this study is to look into Viking festivals’ contents, characteristics and its concept development. Together with that we test out the Experience design model effectiveness for using in the event studies. In this paper we took the qualitative approach by interviewing different festival organizers and going on a field trip. We selected the referral sampling technique (snowball) to collect the data from the target population. Achieved sample was three semi-structured and one unstructured interviews. The findings identify nine key elements of the Viking festival production, explain the role of content in the concept development and explore the success factors of these events. The creation of experiences can be analyzed using the Shedroff’s Experience Design model, which is discussed in more detail later in the paper. In conclusions the recommendations are given to the festivals and the future research, as well as an explanation of the limitations of this study.

Introduction: Today the heritage tourism business is based upon various archaeological findings, museums, heritage centers, theme parks, trails for travel, even village reconstructions, and, of course, highlighted by seasonal trade fairs, which are often boosted by the activities organized by reenactment clubs or so called “living history” societies. As Hallewood & Hannam (2001) suggests that the results of this is a calendar full of events and also a heritage tourism phenomenon that fosters a degree of European integration.

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Recent research shows that entertainment can be an effective medium for educating visitors at historic places. There is a term for the collision of these two subjects – so-called ‘edutainment’. Oxford English Dictionary describes “edutainment” as “an activity or product (esp. in the electronic media) intended to be educational as well as enjoyable; informative entertainment”. Timothy claims that it can be a useful tool in getting and keeping visitors’ attention, and the entertainment element in the historic sites appears to appeal more to the public, especially when the visitors themselves are encouraged to participate. So in tandem it is potentially adding a competitive advantage against the other alternatives of leisure. According to Timothy, “re-enactments of famous people and events has frequently been shown to be an effective tool in getting guests to remember the characters, dates and incidents associated with specific places and events.”

Click here to read this thesis from the University of Stavanger

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