Recently voted in Wanderlust Magazine’s top 10 alternative winter festivals, Shetland’s Up Helly Aa is Europe’s largest fire festival. Held in Lerwick every year on the last Tuesday of January, it’s a celebration of Shetland’s history and has been a tradition since the 1880s.
Up Helly Aa involves ‘guizers’ (dressed up as Vikings) taking part in marches and visitations during the day, with a torch-lit procession in the evening. Almost a thousand guizers take part in the procession, following a galley (traditional Viking vessel) with their flaming torches. The procession culminates with the burning of the galley, which is followed by hours of dancing and performing throughout Lerwick.
Only locals can take part in the procession, but as a spectator you can experience the unique atmosphere of this spectacular fire festival. Why not explore Lerwick and Shetland from self-catering accommodation and really get to know this wonderful island.
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