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Up Helly Aa

Lerwick, Shetland

Location Guide

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 boat.

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 Fire Festivals list.

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The lighted parade The Jarl and his Longship 
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A Guizer Group   Marching Bands
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Burning the Longship Marching Squads
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Location: Up Helly Aa, Lerwick, Shetland

Grid Reference: HU472415 Ceremonial County: Shetland 

Map Link: StreetMap  

Aerial photo:

Getting there: See the Visit Shetland website link below on details on how to get to Shetland and where to stay.

Access: Street event.
Website: www.uphellyaa.org

Other Useful Websites:  Wiki   Visit Shetland

Address: Lerwick, Shetland
Postcode: ZE1 Telephone:
Opening Times: 7.30pm

Charges: None

Nearby Locations:
Other Location Pages: Fire Festivals







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By: Tracey Park Section: Fire Festival Key:
Page Ref: up_helly_aa_lerwick Topic: Activities and Educational  Last Updated: 12/2013

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