Vikingland Band Festival

Vikingland Band Festival
The Vikingland Band Festival Parade Marching Championship is an annual marching band competition held in Alexandria, Minnesota on the last Sunday of June. It is regarded as the biggest and most prestigious summer marching band competition in the Midwest.

The Vikingland Band Festival was founded in 1985. Since its inception, it has featured over 85 different marching bands from seven different states (Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin), two Canadian provinces (Manitoba and Saskatchewan) and even Norway. Most participants are experienced competitors known for their long-lasting traditions of excellence, but the festival welcomes younger marching bands as well, giving them a chance to shine and providing a valuable experience.

The Viking Band Festival has little in common with carnival parades with their floats, dancers and costumed characters. It features only marching bands that march at large intervals to prevent their music from blending together. Alexandria has a remarkably wide main street that is a perfect venue for this kind of event.

The winners of the parade marching championship are chosen by a panel of six judges that provides scores and feedback for each participating band. The highest scoring band in each class earns the title of Class Champion and the overall high scoring band earns the title of Grand Champion. Since the inception of the championship, eight different bands have claimed the Grand Champion title. There’s also a panel of non-professional judges that names one of the bands the People’s Choice.

Class Champion bands and the Grand Champion are awarded traveling flags which they carry for one year, until the next championship. If a band wins the title three consecutive years it earns the right to retire the flag in its honor, i.e. to keep it. There also are caption awards presented to the top sections (wind section, percussion section and color guard) in each class.

The Viking Band Festival is one of the most anticipated events in Alexandria and the unofficial state parade competition in Minnesota. Every year it gathers the finest high school marching bands from across the Midwest (a total of 2,000 performers) and attracts about 20,000 spectators for a truly unforgettable experience.

In 2020, the event was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Vikingland Band Festival

Photo: Jesse Thorstad




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