Sunday Special – Up Helly Aa Fire Festival, Scotland

January can be a dreary month in the northern hemisphere, what with its short days of sunlight, frigid cold air and in many places with snow but no place to ski or snowboard. So what does one do to help pass the dreariness? Well in Lerwick, Scotland they hold a fire festival on the last Tuesday of January (that is January 26 for the 2016 festival). The Up Helly Aa Festival has been a Shetland tradition since the 1880s. An homage to days of Viking glory this 24 hour period sees “squads” of men dressed up in Viking gear marching through town with torches ablaze and songs being sung. A full day of revelry, food and drink awaits participants. The evening is topped off with a Viking-style ship is set ablaze and the sky filled with fireworks. It sounds grand.  I have just decided that I am going to head to the Shetland Islands one Januray to attend this fun and crazy Up Helly Aa Festival.

Photo credits: Mike Pennington via Wikimedia Commons

Burning the galley at Uyeasound Up Helly Aa - geograph.org.uk - 1706017

Procession at Uyeasound Up Helly Aa - geograph.org.uk - 1706007

Guisers in the procession at Uyeasound Up Helly Aa (geograph 3848202)

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