Cressida Cowell's popular How to Train Your Dragon books are the inspiration for Wolverhampton Art Gallery's summer exhibition, which opens on Saturday (14 June 2014) with a special day of family activities to celebrate.

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The exhibition runs until 30 August, and gives fans of the series the chance to step into the exciting and imaginative world created on the pages of Cowell's books.

A Viking's Guide to Deadly Dragons transports visitors back in time to the Dark Ages, a world where Vikings ruled and dragons roamed. With Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as the unlikely hero, people can discover the tribe of Hairy Hooligans, his island home of Berk, his hunting dragon Toothless and his quest to become a hero the hard way.

This Saturday from 11am to 4pm visitors can come face to face with a horde of vikings as part of Wolverhampton Art Gallery's Vikings and Dragons Family Day. Re-enactors from the Svartland Vikings are giving demonstrations of their weapons and armoury, there are lots of activities inspired by the exhibition to try - and even a storytelling dragon.

People can also be in with a chance to win a bumper selection of How to Train Your Dragon goodies. Entry to the event and exhibition is free, with a £2 charge for some activities.

Cressida Cowell grew up in London and every year the family spent holidays on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland which had no roads, houses or electricity. In the stone house built by her father, Cowell spent a lot of time drawing and writing stories by candle-light.

In the evening, her father told tales of the Vikings who invaded the islands 1,200 years before, of the quarrelsome tribes who fought and tricked each other, and of the legends of dragons who were supposed to live in the caves in the cliffs.

In 2002, remembering the stories she had written on the island as a child, Cowell turned these ideas into the book for older children; How to Train Your Dragon. She has written and illustrated 10 books in the popular series which is now published in over 30 languages.

The exhibition has been developed by the author in association with Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books in Newcastle upon Tyne and includes her original drawings, manuscripts and working processes from the How to Train Your Dragon book series, which have also been made into a popular film by DreamWorks - a sequel is out next month.

  • released: Monday 9 June, 2014