• STV
  • MySTV

Thousands gather on Shetland for Up Helly Aa festival 

People dressed as Vikings marched through Lerwick to recreate its ancient Viking past.

Shetland: Up Helly Aa fire festival.
Shetland: Up Helly Aa fire festival. STV

Thousands of people have gathered for the world-famous Up Helly Aa fire festival on Shetland.

The spectacle, which attracts visitors from around the globe, takes place in Lerwick on the last Tuesday of January each year.

People dressed as Vikings marched through the streets of the town to recreate its ancient Viking past, in a tradition dating back to the 19th century.

The procession is led by the Guizer Jarl, or chief guizer, and culminates in a replica longboat being set alight.

This year the boat has been decorated in the distinctive green and white hoops of Celtic at the behest of Guizer Jarl John Nicolson, a supporter of the football club.

Fire festival: People dressed as Vikings marched through the streets.
Fire festival: People dressed as Vikings marched through the streets. STV

Volunteers are responsible for the building of the galley boat and the production of more than 1000 torches.

Those taking part in the festival spend the night visiting a host of celebrations in halls around the town.

The 2019 Chief Viking John Nicolson is the fourth member of his family to take up the role. 

The Guizer Jarl, or chief guizer, gets the honour of choosing the colour of the ship and Mr Nicolson, as a lifelong supporter of Celtic football club, opted for distinctive green and white.

Celtic fan: The Guizer Jarl opted for distinctive green and white.
Celtic fan: The Guizer Jarl opted for distinctive green and white. STV

Shetland and neighbouring Orkney were ruled by the Norse for about 500 years until they became part of Scotland in 1468. 

The festival stems from the 1870s when a group of young local men wanted to put new ideas into Shetland's Christmas celebrations.

https://stv.tv/news/highlands-islands/1435038-up-helly-aa-world-famous-festival-will-light-up-lerwick/ | default

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.