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In pictures: Up Helly Aa festival in Shetland

Two Shetlanders take a break before a parade in Lerwick during the Up Helly Aa festival. Picture: PA

Two Shetlanders take a break before a parade in Lerwick during the Up Helly Aa festival. Picture: PA


  • by LUCY CHRISTIE
 

Hundreds of “Vikings” stormed the streets of Shetland to celebrate their heritage in the island’s annual Up Helly Aa festival last night.

The event in Lerwick is ­Europe’s biggest fire festival and takes place on the last Tuesday of January each year.

Around 900 costumed “guisers” wearing winged helmets, sheepskins and carrying axes and shields, march through the streets of the town to recreate its ancient past.

The procession is led by the guiser jarl, or chief guiser.

Earlier yesterday, a junior jarl elected from a local secondary school headed a mini-torchlight procession. Later in the evening, the main procession was to make its way through the town streets to burn a traditional ­galley.

A host of volunteers are ­responsible for the building of the galley and the production of more than 1,000 torches. Work begins at the end of October to ensure everything is ready.

 

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