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Last week saw the incredible ‘Up Helly Aa’ take place in Lerwick, Shetland.  

On the last Tuesday in January every year, this traditional event brings the community and visitors together to celebrate in style – a spectacle like no other – with ornate costumes, chanting, cheer, flames and fire.  The event involves a series of marches and visitations, that then culminates in a torch-lit procession and the burning of a galley.

Watch a 4 minute video on the 2019 event here


Up Helly Aa is a community event, with countless volunteers contributing many hours each winter towards organising and planning teach year’s festival.

The Guizer Jarl and his squad begin their preparations in February, and many long hours of hard work go into the design and production of their fabulous outfits.

The Up Helly Aa Committee begin their year preparing the Up Helly Aa Exhibition that runs from May until September in the Galley Shed. This boasts a full size Galley, Jarl Squad suits, other Squads memorabilia and an extensive collection of photographs recording the suits worn and the guizers involved.

In early September the Guizers of the remaining 46 squads begin their squad meetings and preparations. This involves determining the character(s) that they wish to portray with their suits, making the suits while also creating and practising their act to perform in the halls they visit through out the evening.

At the end of September the Galley shed is transformed back into to a working shed where the Galley and the torches are constructed during the winter.

Special thanks go to this website for the information provided in this post.

We hope to make it to Shetland in 2020 to see this incredible festival and if anyone has been already – we would love to receive your comments.

You can learn much more about the festival in the About Up Helly Aa section.


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Post by Linda Dumpe

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