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current event, up helly aa, scotland,

Scotland Celebrates Up Helly Aa 2014

For more photos and videos from the celebrations in Scotland, browse the #uphellyaa hashtag.

In Scotland, on the last Tuesday of each January, towns throughout Shetland mark the end of the Yule Season with the Up Helly Aa fire festival. In preparation for the festival, each town’s men organize into squads, with the chief squad led by the Jarl, an elected leader for the entire festival.

On the evening of the festival, the men dress in Viking costume and parade through the town carrying lit torches. In larger towns such as Lerwick, the processions can number nearly 1,000 celebrants. As night falls, the men follow the Jarl to the coastline where they throw their torches into a replica Viking longship and sing while it burns.


Up Helly Aa, Shetland, Scotland, Current Events,

Up Helly Aa: Scotland’s Fire Festival

Want to explore more photos from Up Helly Aa? Search the #UpHellyAa hashtag or visit the Lerwick location page.

Each year in Scotland, thousands of men bearing torches parade through the streets on the last Tuesday of January to mark the end of the Yule Season. Though only officially begun in 1881, the Up Helly Aa day fire festivals have their roots in ancient Anglo Saxon rites. Revelers pay homage to this history by dressing in full costume and electing a Jarl to head the festivities. The Jarl and his committee lead the torch-bearers through the town to a replica of a Viking longship, which they set ablaze with the torches. After the burning, townspeople retire to local public halls for a night of dancing and performances. The Wednesday after is taken as a day of recovery before “Hop Night” when the festivities continue until morning.