Celebrate the Viking millennium

It may be 2000 everywhere next year, but for Newfoundlanders the millennium also marks another special date: the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of Leif Erikson and his band of Vikings and the founding of their settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in the northwest part of the province. The Viking Trail Tourism Association, which promotes the area for tourism, is celebrating the occasion with a number of special events next year.

Start planning now for a visit to The Rock next summer, when the “Grand Encampment” will feature 100 guides dressed in Viking clothes who will demonstrate life in the last millennium, complete with a re-enacted battle. Next July 28, Viking ships will arrive at the camp enroute from Labrador, in a recreation of Erikson’s 1000-year old route. One of the ships will be commanded by one of the famous Viking’s descendants, and thousands of visitors are expected to attend.

The ships will then sail down the west coast of Newfoundland, stopping at ports along the way and arriving in St. John’s in August. A United Nations World Heritage site, L’Anse aux Meadows offers Viking huts, interpretative guides and cruises on replicships. More than 150,000 tourists visit the region each year, and since there are only 14 hotels in the area, association officials advise those who are planning to make the Viking voyage next summer to book early. The region also offers camping and RV parks for accommodations.