The very first Viking Festival came to Largs in 1980 with the aim of building an international reputation for the town.
We explained on 4 April of that year: “The crux of the event surrounds a Viking invasion, mock battles, parades, and ceremonial burning of a ‘longship’ which already promises to be a series of dramatic spectacles in the capable hands of the experienced Norse Pageant Society. The Society would also be setting up a Viking Village around the pencil for the week of the festival.”

Famous tv quizmaster Magnus Magnusson of ‘Mastermind’ was to open the proceedings, and nationwide publicity was financed by the Scottish Tourist Board (see picture below of Magnus at Barrfields in 1984 with Brisbane Queen Judith Henderson)

Largs and Millport Weekly News:
The Largs Tourism Working Party who were organising the event were busy approaching firms and individuals who had any sort of link between Scotland and Norway to ask if they were interested in participating in the festival.
Councillor Dan Doris said that the real link between the two nations is the North Sea and suggested that sponsorship was sought from some of the big oil firms.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:
A Norse warrior model was to go on display outside the Tourist Information Centre. The model in full chain-mail dress cost £100.
The chairman of the Largs Festival Week committee Josh Nordbo said: “This is our first year and the better we can make it, the better it will be for the future. We want the Viking Festival to become international. Let’s make it a good foundation.” 
Excitement was building, we reported on April 25, as a three-man delegation from Largs was to travel to Frederikstadt - the Norwegian town with which Largs was hopeful of establishing a twinning link. As part of the exchange, the Largs party were heading to Scandinavia in June, with the Frederikstadt group returning for the Viking Festival.
Magnus Magnusson officially declared the festival open on Wednesday September 3 1980, having just presented a documentary on the Vikings for the BBC. He also gave the first Haakon Haakonsson lecture which was appropriately held in The Nordic Suite of the Royal Hotel.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:
After the official opening ceremony on the lawn outside Barrfields, local schoolchildren presented their own version of the Battle of Largs of 1263 when the Scots defeated the Vikings.
The first spectacular Viking battle re-enactment took place on the following Saturday when the Pageant Society took the guise of the Viking warriors who tackled the local army of Scots fighters.
At the Pencil the latter-day Vikings re-enacted a Norse raid, landing from the boats for a dramatic battle sequence, and on the same evening, a Viking funeral took place with fireworks.
On Sunday, there was to be a further battle where the Scots were ultimately victorious and marched on foot and horseback to Kelburn Country Centre.
There was also a top level Scotland-Norway weightlifting competition featuring international men battling it out on the promenade.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:
Among the other attractions were the Viking Spears darts tournament, the King Haakon sea angling contest, a Viking sailing regatta, variety shows and competitions.
At the big launch, Magnus said: “This has been called The Year of the Viking with a vengeance. The Largs Viking Festival is celebrating history for its own sake and a great many fun things to do have been arranged for the coming week, they should be taken as fun and enjoyed as such.
“What we are doing in Largs is reliving the past. It must never be allowed to die, it must always be part of us.”

Largs and Millport Weekly News: