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Up Helly Aa 2023

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Up Helly Aa is an annual fire festival which takes place in Lerwick, Scotland – usually on the last Tuesday in January. It involves a variety of visitations and marches, culminating in a torch-lit procession and the burning of a huge galley.

What date is Up Helly Aa Fire Festival 2023?
26 January 20231 Day Event

The Up Helly Aa refers to a variety of fire festivals in Lerwick, in the middle of winter to mark the end of the Yule season. The following Wednesday is a public holiday in Lerwick to allow for recovery.

Up Helly Aa Festival

Up Helly Aa is a lot more than a sub-arctic bonfire. It’s an amazing spectacle and celebration of Shetland Viking history, which demonstrates the skills and spirit of islanders.

It runs completely by volunteers and lasts only a day, but it takes several thousand people and an entire year to organize properly.

The biggest secret of the Up Helly Aa is what the “Guizer Jarl” will wear and which character from the Norse Sagas he will represent each year.

Viking Fire Festival

Lerwick’s Jarl will have been planning (and saving up for) the longest day of his life for 15 years or more, before he dons his raven-winged helmet, grabs ax and shield, and embarks on a 24-hour sleepless marathon.

On the evening of Up Helly Aa day, close to one thousand heavily disguised men, in groups called “squads” appear in the streets of the city. Only the Jarl Squad should wear Viking costumes, the rest ranges from the almost sublime to fun and ridiculous.

Up Helly Aa Viking Fire Festival

The famous torchlight procession usually consists of one thousand guizers who carry their Torches through the town, following the Galley along the route. During this period, the town is in darkness and the streetlights are switched off.