Lerwick Up Helly Aa

Where: Lerwick, Shetland
When: Last Tuesday in January
Time: From 8.30 am


Up Helly Aa is the biggest fire festival in Europe and takes place on the last Tuesday in January each year, celebrating the Viking heritage of Shetland . Groups of fancy-dressed folk march through town led by Guiser Jarl – this takes place during the day with regular stops for photography and refreshment. The Shetland Museum stop around 2.30 pm is recommended as a good place for visitors to meet the participants and see the elaborate costumes in good light as much of the later action is during the hours of darkness. Processions begin at 5.30 on the Hillhead for Juniors, followed by the adults at 7.30 – expect literally hundreds of torch bearers and Guizer Jarl with his Squad bringing their specially built galley. The ship is ceremonially burned at the King George V Playing Field with a crowd of up to five thousand spectators before the Guisers dance the night away in a series of organised ceilidhs at halls around town. Guiser Jarl is elected each year so plenty of men get the chance to play the role – the festival has been going well over 100 years and looks absolutely magnificent.

Other places have their own version of Up Helly Aa like Scalloway, Cullivoe and Brae  but the Lerwick event is by far the biggest and best known.

Helpful Hints

You’ll need to plan this visit well in advance to arange transport and accomodation (see links on the website below). Programmes are available at the local shops and a visit to the Up Helly Aa Exhibition at the Galley Shed on St Sunniva Street is recommended if you’re in the area during the summer months.

In 2018 it will be on Tuesday January 30th.

Click here for the event website : http://www.uphellyaa.org/

Photo by Colemic2006.

View larger map