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Yuletide Night returns!

Move over, Largs Yuletide Event- the traditional late night Thursday Evening is back! After all, you can’t fight tradition…

Local businesses requested the Largs Initiative to scrap the 3 day long yuletide weekend event in order to bring back the traditional Thursday Evening with extended opening hours, and they have finally agreed. The three day long Largs Yuletide Event was initially proposed to attract more business to the town, in order for the shopkeepers to get a trade boost to help them in this time of economic recession. However, local businessmen themselves asked for a return to the traditional approach, to be held on the evening of Thursday (as custom as always had it), December 10th.

Commenting on the change, a spokeswoman for the Largs Initiative group stated that: “Although the change of plans has resulted in the cancellation of some of the accompanying events, The Largs Initiative is determined to support local businesses and is happy to go along with their wishes.”

Don’t be so quick to ring out the old… sometimes, it’s just better to keep things as they are.

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The Viking Festival’s Continental Fair a smashing hit

The Viking Festival’s Continental Fair a smashing hit

Chocolate croissants, pastas, prawns, frankfurters… There were flavours of every kind to tantalize the taste buds while taking in the delights of the arts and crafts flown in by traders from all corners of the globe, from as far away as Spain, Ecuador and South Africa.

The Viking Festival is the biggest and most important in Largs’ calendar, and it just keeps getting better, outdoing itself year after year. The continental market of the Viking Festival is one of its highlights, turning the Largs sea front into a massive global fairground for the duration of the festival. The food at the continental market is always to die for, keeping your palate delightfully engaged while you indulge the rest of your senses to the sights and sounds of one of the largest international carnival you will ever hope to see.

Most unfortunately, even with so many traders bringing with them relics of their perennially sun kissed tropical countries, the fairs had to contend with pouring rain that rarely ever let off during the four days of the market. But it takes more than a little rain to dampen such bright spirits; and speaking of spirits, Allan Henderson (Managing Director of Salwarth Brewers in Castle Douglas) got it spot on when he had this to say about the fair: “It always helps when the sun shines but we have done alright.”

Photography by Duncan Holmes

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The Battle of Largs

The Battle of Largs

2838207712_a59f9855e9[1]The Largs Viking Festival is already underway this weekend, in memory of the historical Battle of Largs, so what better way to get into the Viking spirit than a short impromptu history lesson?

The Battle of Largs was fought 2nd October, 1263, between the forces of Norway (led by king Håkon Håkonsson) and Scotland (led by king Alexander III) on the Firth of Clyde in North Ayrshire, where the town of Largs stands today. Since the beginning of the 12th century, the Inner and Outer Hebrides and Kintyre, and the kingdom of Man had been under the suzerainty of the King of Norway. In the 13th century, Alexander III of Scotland had been attempting to buy the islands off him, but launched an offensive when that failed. This prompted King Håkon to respond by setting sail with what was reputedly the biggest fleet to ever leave Norway, with over 120 long ships and between 12,000 to 20,000 soldiers. He easily took back the Hebrides, and anchored his fleet by the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde, where he was approached by envoys from the Scottish king, opening peace talks. But the talks failed, and King Håkon soon afterwards sent the kings Magnus and Dougal with 40 ships up Loch Long and into Loch Lomond, while the main fleet with King Håkon in charge moved closer towards the islands of Cumbrae and Largs.

It was then that the Scots found their deus ex machina in the form of a storm that drove five of the longs ships aground. The next day, King Håkon went onshore with some 800 men in an effort to rescue the longs ships, and were confronted by the Scottish forces- some 8000 men in all, including 500 armoured and mounted knights. Outnumbered ten-to-one, the battle began to quickly turn into a rout. King Håkon finally managed to escape back into main fleet, but could not send reinforcements because of the storm. Only one ship from the main fleet managed to reach land, and a lengthy long-distance battle ensued, which ultimately ended with both sides retreating. The Norwegians had survived the Scottish onslaught, but they were a spent force themselves. Winter was almost at hand, and the army was short of provisions. King Håkon was forced to sail back to the north, and never returned again- he fell ill and died on 15th December that very year.

The Battle still lives on in the form of the Largs Viking Festival every year, a celebration which dignitaries of both Scotland and Norway attend as a mark of the friendship between the countries. Image: Flickr

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Largs Annual Festivals

Largs Annual Festivals

lThere is more to be experienced in Scotland than just the natural beauty of its hills, vales and lochs. No country, after all, is complete without its people. And few people live life larger and more colourfully than merry old Scotsmen. When you live in a place as breathtakingly beautiful as Largs, you want to celebrate life as often as you can. No wonder, then, that Largs has as many as three annual festivals of its very own.

In the first weekend of June every year, for example, Largs lives up to the sound of the blues. The Largs Jazz Festival is the first of the year (of their local calendar, at least), in which various bands from all over the world flock to participate. Unfortunately, the hugely popular event has been kept in abeyance for the last two years, but is hoped that it will take off in all its golden glory again in 2010.

In July Largs celebrates the Brisbane Queen Festival. It began as the Carnival Queen festival in 1934, but was renamed in 1936 to commemorate Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane, born in Largs, who went on to become the 6th Governor of New South Wales, and after whom the town of Brisbane in Australia is named. Ena Baird was crowned the first Brisbane Queen, and the tradition has continued since then. Each year, the Brisbane Queen is chosen from among the local schools, and is presented the Queen’s scepter and full royal regalia (not a replica- they are actually presented to Largs by the Government of Queensland) and is afforded the treatment of royalty for the day.

Then comes the week long Largs Viking Festival, which takes place every August/September to commemorate the 1263 Battle of Largs when the Vikings were defeated for the final time by the Scotsmen. A Viking Village is reconstructed for the festival, a Viking parade, a re-enactment of the battle culminating in the ceremonial burning of a Viking longship, and finally ending with a spectacular fireworks show from the Pencil Monument.

Photography by Duncan Holmes

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