Up Helly Aa Fire Festival – Scotland

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Up Helly Aa 2017 is held on 31st January in Lerwick, Shetland.

The torchlit procession typically consists of various Guizer Jarls and their squads, who number up to nearly one thousand and carry their Torches through the town. They follow the Galley along the route towards its fiery end and Valhalla. The route is lined with spectators, who on a good night may number over five thousand strong, cheering at the guizers as they pass by. This march is a day-long event, with numerous scheduled detours throughout the town.

The Jarl Squad will lead the procession with the Jarl at the helm of his Galley. The procession will march along the prescribed route before finishing in the burning site at the King George V playing field. The public are not allowed in to the burning site.

Following the burning of the Galley all the squads re-assemble and organise themselves to now embark on 11 hours of visiting. The halls are open welcoming the guizers as guests, the routine is the same in every hall. The squad arrives, performs their act, the guizers have a dance with a lady from the hall before saying ‘Thank you’ and ‘Goodnight’ and then leaving to repeat the same process in the next hall.

The halls that are open on Up Helly Aa night are ticketed events that are mostly organised by volunteers. Those attending the halls are invited guests who also assist in the running of the hall. The Jarl Squad timetable can be found here.

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