For every Viking wannabe who’s wanted to raise a horn full of ale or watch a longship burn, this year’s San Diego Comic-Con is for you.

For the first time, History is hosting an authentic Viking funeral in San Diego harbor, complete with custom-built longship that will be set on actual fire.

“There has been a lot of upheaval in the Vikings series. The theme for this upcoming season is ‘who will rise?’” says Dan Bragg, senior vice president of marketing for A&E, History and Lifetime. “This [activation] takes advantage of that in a really powerful way to set the stage for what will happen this season.”

Prior to the procession and funeral pyre, History will host a Vikings panel featuring cast members Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha), Gustaf Skarsgard (Floki), Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn), Alex Høgh Anderson (Ivar the Boneless) and creator and writer Michael Hirst. That will take place at 5:45 pm in room 6BCF before fans head to the harbor to watch the ship burn.

It’s all in honor of — spoiler alert! — Vikings’ dearly departed Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), who saw his story conclude in historically accurate fashion in last season’s finale. In season five, the sons of Ragnar are squaring up their positions, with psychopath Ivar the Boneless wanting to rampage through England, Bjorn preparing to explore the Mediterranean and Ubbe (Jordan Smith) and Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) considering their next moves. Back home, Ragnar’s ex and Bjorn’s mother, Lagertha (Kathryn Winnick), rules Kattegat. Jonathan Rhys Meyers also comes on board next season as Bishop Heahmund.

For fans who prefer to hang out in the Gaslamp, History will be handing out thousands of Viking drinking horns.

“Those are collectibles and we’ve got partnerships with about 11 bars in the Gaslamp quarter for special drinks,” says Bragg. “Each bar will come with their own little concoction for the horns.”

To find out which bars are participating, follow @HistoryVikings on Twitter and try all 11 special elixirs (but maybe not all in a row).

Finally, fans that make it to the Comic-Con floor can create a video of themselves at the Warrior’s Allegiance booth. There, they can deck themselves out in select Vikings gear, fight with one of Ragnar’s four sons and then share that video on social media. They also can collect a limited-edition Vikings comic book created by Hirst exclusively for SDCC.

History also is introducing a new series, Knightfall, at Comic-Con. The drama tells the tale of the Knights Templar of the 13th century and their quest for the Holy Grail, from which legends say Jesus Christ drank at the Last Supper.

“This is a very cool series about the Knights Templar from the Middle Ages,” says Bragg. “These were warriors in the crusades who fought for the Pope. The show is really about how these Knights Templar found out that the Grail was in France and how they are trying to get it back combined with beautiful themes of politics and religion.”

The premiere date for Knightfall has not yet been set, but to create buzz around the show History is setting up “Knightfall: Guardians of the Gear,” a much-needed place for attendees to drop their hard-earned swag. The activation will come in the form of a small castle along the MLK Promenade in the Gaslamp staffed by knights. Twice a day, the knights will form a procession to deliver the Holy Grail to the castle, and then take it away for safe-keeping every evening.

Besides stopping by the castle to stash their stuff, while there attendees can also take selfies with knights, see a sneak peek of the series and preview the Knightfall: Rivals video game. They can also add a comic book inspired by the series and entitled Truth & Lies to their hoard.

“This is really a moment to create some buzz around the show and the mystery of the Knights Templar as well as do a little educating around the story of the Grail,” says Bragg.

Overall, Bragg sees Comic-Con as a huge opportunity.

“Being part of the cultural conversation is massive for any brand if you can tap into it,” he says. “We have a show with Vikings that’s already part of that conversation, and that’s been really important. We’re dovetailing into Knightfall for the same reason — to warm the waters for a premiere down the road.”


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