Up Helly Aa
The Up Helly Aa is an annual festival which has
taken place in Lerwick, in its present form since 1870. It is a 24 hour party
which takes place on the last Tuesday in January each year, celebrating
Shetlands Viking Routes and marks the end of the winter months. There are
various Viking events, with people in costumes, taking place throughout the day
and this culminates in a torchlight parade and the burning of a Viking long
The Galley or Long Boat is built every year by
the local Up Helly Aa associations and takes around 4 months to build. At 7.30pm
a signal rocket bursts over the Town Hall, the torches are lit, the band strikes
up, the procession begins, and only lasts about half and hour. It is led by
around 1,000 torch carrying 'Vikings' (guizers) with heavy axes and shields, who
are part of squads and they march the 'Jarl' in the galley around the town. At
the climax of the procession the long boat is parked up, the torch bearers
circle it and sing a traditional Up Helly Aa song after which the Jarl climbs
out and it is set alight with the flaming torches. Once the galley has burned
and the flames die down, the Guizers sing a traditional song and then they
disperse in their squads to visit various halls around the town in turn to dance
and drink with the guests. This can take most of the night.
The Lerwick is the largest of the 'Up Helly Aa'
(fire festivals) which take place on Shetland each year, we have a number of
them listed within our
Location: Up Helly Aa, Lerwick, Shetland
Grid Reference: HU472415
Getting there: See the Visit Shetland website
link below on details on how to get to Shetland and where to stay.
Access: Street event.
Other Useful Websites:
Address: Lerwick, Shetland
Opening Times: 7.30pm
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