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The Up Helly Aa festival, introduced by men returning

The Up Helly Aa festival, introduced by men returning

Some like to drink, others like to set Viking boats on fire. Check out these amazing images from the unusual festival of Up Helly Aa.

So it seems that the vikings are back in business, even if it is for just a day. According to a tradition that dates back to 1881, on every last tuesday of January, Scotland’s Shetland Islands celebrate Europe’s largest fire festival, Up Helly Aa.

We bring you stunning images from this rather unusual festival! Keep clicking!

The Up Helly Aa festival, introduced by men returning from the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, takes place annually on the last Tuesday of January.


Guizer Jarl Stephen Grant stands on a viking longboat

Guizer Jarl Stephen Grant stands on a viking longboat

Up Helly Aa is Europe’s largest fire festival and as its website describes, ‘is many things to many people’.

“Throughout the day there are experiences a plenty to be had by all from the celebration of our history, the sight of the Guizer Jarl, his Jarl Squad marching through the town followed by his galley to the evening party atmosphere in the halls,” it reads.

Guizer Jarl Stephen Grant stands on a viking longboat before it is sent on fire during during the Up Helly Aa fire festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland


Jarl Squad vikings light up their torches during

Jarl Squad vikings light up their torches during

The festival is said to have been introduced by men returning from the Napoleonic Wars and involves, among other things, setting a replica of a Viking ship alight!

Jarl Squad vikings light up their torches during the Up Helly Aa fire festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland.

 

Jarl Squad vikings light up their torches during the Up Helly

Jarl Squad vikings light up their torches during the Up Helly

In all these years, the festival has been cancelled on three occasions — in 1901, when Queen Victoria died, between 1914 and 1919 during the First World War and from 1940 to 1948 during the Second World War.

Jarl Squad vikings light up their torches during the Up Helly Aa fire festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland.

 

 Flames engulf a viking longboat

Flames engulf a viking longboat

There also been few postponements — in 1900, the festival was delayed by two weeks due to an outbreak of influenza, in 1936 for two weeks again, this time to mourn the death of George V and finally in 1965 for a week due to the death of Winston Churchill.

Flames engulf a viking longboat as it is set on fire during the Up Helly Aa fire festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland

 

Flames engulf the dragon's head on a viking longboat

Flames engulf the dragon's head on a viking longboat

The Up Helly Aa day concludes with the burning of a galley. For hours after this, there are dance performances and celebrations in halls throughout Lerwick. The following Wednesday is a public holiday in Lerwick to allow for recovery.

Flames engulf the dragon’s head on a viking longboat as it is set on fire during the Up Helly Aa fire festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland.

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