Where: Lerwick, Shetland
£: Free to watch the morning marching and evening procession. The evening Town Hall event is ticketed (£30) with limited availability.
What is it?
Up Helly Aa in Lerwick is Europe’s largest fire festival and has been an annual tradition since around the 1880s. The festival features fire-lit processions, a Viking longboat burning, as well as dancing and singing.
The processions are world-famous and feature the Guizer Jarl and his Jarl squad. The Guizer Jarl is the leader of the squad, usually dressed in the finest Viking armour and his squad are made up of around 50 men who dress up in Viking suits complete with armour. The squad make their own suits for the procession and the accompanying weapons such as axes, swords, spears, daggers, bows and crossbows! The replica boat is made by local tradesmen and is painted to match the Jarl Squad’s suits. Over 1000 torches are made for these processions. It’s a sight not to be missed.
Junior processions take place from 5.30pm with the main procession following at around 7.30pm when the torches are lit to create a wonderful spectacle in the dark. The procession complete with replica longboat heads towards the King George V playing field where the galley is then burnt.
Following the procession the squads head to the halls for dancing and merriment.
More info: www.uphellyaa.org