By Deb Malewski
– Contributing Writer
The Michigan Nordic Fire Festival is a unique experience that celebrates winter, fire and family fun in Charlotte. It is billed as a “medieval fantasy brought to life” — with historical reenactments, costumed participants, vendors and lots of Viking-themed entertainment, from fun contests and games to serious historical presentations.
This year’s event, the fifth annual, starts the evening of Friday, Feb. 28 and runs through Sunday, March 1. It takes place at 620 W. Shepherd Street in Charlotte, at Lincoln Park. Free parking is provided at the Charlotte High School, with free shuttle service to the venue. The festival is a non-profit, community organization. Dressing as a Viking is encouraged but not required.
The Nordic Fire Festival draws people from around the Midwest to attend this unique winter experience, which was originally created to showcase Charlotte in the winter and provide a fun activity for everyone. Thousands are expected to attend the event, as they have each year.
With many elaborately costumed visitors and participants in authentic Viking or fantasy gear, it’s an ideal opportunity to people watch. The event will provide visitors with a chance to throw spears and axes, engage in sword fights and to be a “weekend Viking,” organizers say. There are many games of skill for both adults and children.
The event opens on Friday with the burning of a replica Viking longship at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday events are numerous, highly varied and include things for all ages. A complete schedule of activities is available on the festival website at michigannordicfestival.com.
On both Friday and Saturday night, the Mead Hall will provide a chance to imbibe in locally produced craft beers and mead, a honey-based drink. The Mead Hall will be open Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and will have music and other entertainment. On Saturday, the Mead Hall opens at 5 p.m.
Event sponsors urge visitors to come to the event dressed weather-appropriately, although there are events that take place both outside and inside heated tents.
“I love this festival and its Renaissance feel,” said festival volunteer Julie Kimmer from the Courthouse Square Museum. “Everyone should come to see the new 27-foot Viking boat.”
The Viking boat, complete with elaborately carved dragons at each end, currently sits on the courthouse lawn, awaiting the big event. The boat was located near Detroit, and festival sponsors helped make the purchase. This is not the boat that will be burned in the bonfire, though.