Up Helly Aa is the biggest of the fire festivals that take place in the winter months in Shetland. This Viking themed fire festival takes place in Lerwick on the last Tuesday of January – this year Tuesday 31st January 2017. The day involves a series of marches and visitations and in the evening is the most famous part – the torch-lit procession and Galley burning.
At 1850, the men, Guizars will gather to receive their torches. On the stroke of 1930, a rocket fired into the sky is the signal for them to light up their torches. Then the blazing procession begins, with over a thousand men marching, dragging a Viking Galley with their leader – the Guizar Jarl – standing on top. When the Galley reaches the burning site, the torchbearers form a circle round it and sing the traditional Up Helly Aa song. Another rocket is fired and the Jarl leaves the ship. A bugle call sounds, and the torches are hurled into the galley! The burning galley and the flames in the January winds are quite as sight to see!