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Midgardsblot live review – Midgard Historical Centre, Borre, Norway

Live Review

Venue: Midgard Historical Centre, Borre, Norway

Wardruna raise the spirits amidst ancient burial grounds at Norwegian festival Midgardsblot

THURSDAY

The gods are benevolent once more. In a small Viking village set up amidst the burial mounds of Borre that look imperiously across Norway’s southern coast, a group of traditionally attired minstrels, storytellers and attendees bearing shields, drums and flaming torches, are taking the short march into Midgardsblot’s main arena to perform an inaugural blot – a sacramental offering and a petition for good fortune. Bathed in forecast-defying sunshine and overlooked by a reconstructed great hall, a circle is formed. Within, a fire is lit, audience-participation chants are sung and calls are made to the North, the East, the South and the West, to Freya and to Odin and for the continuation of good weather and camaraderie as the gathered are invited to offer a personal sacrifice into the flames.

Only in its second year, Midgardsblot has already become a point of pilgrimage, drawing an audience from across the world. For metal-heads, the idea of a Viking festival sells itself, but this festival offers something uniquely immersive and communal. From tours of the site to the camping grounds that look across the Oslofjord bay, movies and seminars – not least Wardruna’s Einar Selvik’s introduction to runes – through to archery, axe-throwing and various combative endeavours, marketplaces, the village, forest paths and all-round sense of belonging that Midgardsblot engenders, coming here feels like a connection is being made – to your fellow travellers and to history. At least a third of the people here are in period dress, including children, and like Roadburn, the chilled, accommodating atmosphere is tuned to a frequency reserved for festivals that have the effect of crossing over a much-needed threshold.

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