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Published: 24 January 2015

By Andy Ross

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Up Helly Aa 2015

It is that time of year again. Time for fire and burning galleys. Yes, Shetland's annual festival of Up Helly Aa. 

Taking place on the last Tuesday of January, the Lerwick festival is truly a winter spectacle. Squads dressed in anything from lederhosen to Disney character costumes, and led by the Jarl Squad in their fine Viking dress, march through the town carrying burning torches before heading to a purpose-built galley which is ceremonially burned. It is a magnificent sight in the dark of winter which you can watch live on the internet

The Lerwick Festival is the second of the fire festivals in Shetland and certainly the biggest. From the middle of January through to March, Shetland celebrates with smaller rural festivals, just as enjoyable with more local flavour to the skits that the squads put on in the local halls after the burning. The festival signals the end of the festive season and the promise of the returning light to Northern climes. 

(Photo courtesy of Northlink Ferries - Cullivoe Up Helly Aa - our very own local celebration)