This is a relatively unknown festival with traditional roots going as far back as the late 1800s. It is held on the Shetland Islands - to the North of Scotland and is considered to be one of the most incredible festivals in all of Europe.
The entire festival plays out in the town of Lerwick – with a huge bonfire and free flowing alcohol. This glittering spectacle is centered around celebrating the history of the place and also to demonstrate the hardy spirit and the skills of the islanders. One can expect to see Vikings in their full regalia, Norse galleys and take part in a party that lasts all night long.
This festival means different things to different people and there are many experiences to savor – even considering that it was canceled on a few occasions like World War II and the flu pandemic in the 1900s. The sight of Guizer Jarl and his squad marching through the small town is a sight to behold.
It is believed that this festival celebrates the return of soldiers from the war – the men were pretty happy to be back home and celebrated with their rowdy habits and not to mention, their firearms. The townspeople were also happy to see them and stayed up late blowing on horns, beating drums and old kettles, played loud music and drank merrily.
Over the years as the town of Lerwick grew in size, the festivities became more elaborate. In 1870, this event was given its name – Up Helly Aa and the festival was moved to the end of January.
The Viking Ship and the Guizer Jarl were introduced in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The festival resumed in 1949 – and got radio coverage from the BBC. This helped to catapult the festival onto the international stage. With more people participating and more resources being available to organizers, it has truly become one for all those who love to party.
At 9 A.M in the morning Up Helly Aa 2016 starts and March to British legion(The start up location varies year on year). Leaving British Legion by 9:45 A.M and march along Esplanade,then along Commercial street pausing at the bill located near the Market cross. The area is cordoned off finish for photos at Bressay Ferry Terminal. Depart to Civic reception in Lerwick Town Hall from Bressay Ferry Terminal at 10:30 A.M.
A series of visit to the Primary Schools, Hospitals and eventide homes throughout the rest of the morning and following afternoon from the Lerwick Town Hall. A visit to the Shetland Museum around 15:30. The Guizer Jarl Squad passes up the ranks at 19:15 and at 19:30 procession commences. The visit to the first hall of the evening at 21:15. The timetable may differ from what stated above, may subject to change on the circumstances and will be confirmed near the festival.