If you’ve lived in Chicago for at least one summer, you’ve been there: shoes off, hands braced behind your head, tiny sailboats in the distance bobbing to and fro with unmistakable grace.
Except. Wait. What’s that one? That giant pirate-looking thing with the massive oars sticking out the sides?
That’s the Draken Harald Hårfagre, the largest Viking ship in the world. We believe the name is Norwegian for BAMF.
This summer, it’s embarking on its first transatlantic voyage and sailing into Navy Pier for the Tall Ships Festival — a celebration of majestic ships of great heights, returning to Chicago after a three-year hiatus.
Presale tickets are available right now.
You want in on those. Because it’s highly unlikely this boat will see our shores ever again.
The Journey BeginsSkipper Björn Ahlander on what it takes to captain a behemoth Viking longship.1:24
The Draken Harald Hårfagre gets its name from the first king of Norway (English translation: Dragon Harold Fairhair, also: "how the hell you prounounce that?") and stands as the world's largest and truest reconstructed Viking ships.
With its homeport in Haugesund, Norway, the ship is a crown jewel of traditional Norwegian artistry and boatmaking; a massively huge undertaking that took two years to complete between 2010 and 2012, and another two years to learn her ways on the water, let alone prepare her for a transatlantic journey.
Just how big is she?
One-hundred and fourteen feet long with a twenty-seven foot beam, displacing eighty tons of water and propelled only by its twenty-eight hundred square foot sail or rowed by its 25 pairs of oars. That's huge, even by today's standards. And she'll be sailing to our shores crewed by 32 brave men and women. There is no galley. No under deck. Just a small tent on the main deck.
Like the epic open sea voyages of yore, the Draken will make her way through the Shetlands, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland, before hitting our mainland by way of Northeast Canada.
Assuming all goes well, they'll be arriving in Chicago on July 27th for the Tall Ships Festival. You can follow the route right here.
May the sea gods be ever in their favor.
Photos: Draken Harald Hårfagre