Why a village in northwestern Spain is about to be invaded by bloodthirsty Vikings

The Local Spain
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Why a village in northwestern Spain is about to be invaded by bloodthirsty Vikings
Inhabitants of Catoira village, in Galicia, re-enact the Viking assault that took palce 1,000 years ago. Photos: MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

Thousands of 'Vikings' will land on the shores of a small village in Galicia on Sunday, as part of an annual festival that commemorates a Scandinavian invasion which took place a thousand years ago.


On the first Sunday of August (in 2022 August 7th), Catoira in the province of Pontevedra is flooded with ‘blood-thirsty’ men and women from all across Europe.



Dressed in animal skins and armed with the finest plastic weaponry, they disembark on the rugged Galician coast with the aim of capturing the Towers of the West, just as Norway’s King Olaf II did a millennium ago.



The ‘blood’ spilt during the simulated battles does taste distinctly like red wine, but the visual effect it has when poured all over the fighters’ bodies is just as gruesome.



Catoira’s residents have proudly seen their local festival come on leaps and bounds since its first edition in 1960.



Declared a Festival of International Interest, it also includes musical acts by folk groups and a medieval market in the 11th century towers.


viking festival galicia


The occasion the Romeria de Catoira marks was recounted by local and foreign historians, as was the interest Vikings had in ruling over all of Galicia, Spain’s most westerly region, as they did with Normandy in France.

King Olaf II Haraldsson, first a Viking and finally made a saint when he converted to Christianity, called Galicia Jakobsland (Land of James).



2022 marks the 62nd edition of this surreal festival, and will see local band Tanxugueiras (one of the candidates for Spain's Eurovision entry) perform for a crowd of thousands on Friday. The Viking 'invasion' on the other hand will take place at 10am on Sunday morning.



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