From the official Web site:
Up Helly Aa, which takes place in Lerwick, Shetland, on the last Tuesday in January every year. Up Hele Aa involves a series of marches and visitations, culminating in a torch-lit procession and the burning of a galley.
The following Wednesday is a public holiday in Lerwick to allow for recovery.
No surprise there – this is (the very far north of) Scotland after all.
From Cape Town this was quite a trek; fly (via Dubai) to Glasgow, an overnight there, then the next afternoon a scheduled Loganair twin prop to Sumburgh on the southern tip of the main Shetland island,
hoping praying the weather was going to be OK. Thankfully, it was, leaving only the car hire and the 35km drive into Lerwick to negotiate.
From here, the photographs can tell the story. Up Hele Aa is absolutely well worth a visit, but make sure you are well rested, you have plenty of warm clothing and camera(s) that can deal with not only the elements, but deliver competently in the semi-dark conditions. It’s also worth remembering that this far north – abreast of Bergen in Norway – the sun only rises around 08:30 and disappears just eight hours later at 16:30.
And yes, it snowed, rained and sleeted and was damned cold. I recommend liberal doses of Scottish Communion Wine to ease the pain.
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