Record Online Audience for Up Helly Aa

by Promote Shetland -

Online viewers worldwide will be able to enjoy this year’s Up Helly Aa live in high-definition video, as destination marketing organisation Promote Shetland prepares for a record-breaking day’s coverage.

Using 10 cameras throughout Lerwick and the talents of 15 young local volunteers, this will be the first Up Helly Aa webcast to use Promote Shetland’s new studios at 4 Market Street in the town. For the first time ever, aerial footage from two drones could be part of the event - weather permitting - and cameras will be allowed into the civic reception for the Jarl Squad, which is being held at Mareel this year while the Town Hall is refurbished.

As well as the live broadcast of the procession and burning, presented by Davie Gardner and Peter Malcolmson, there will be live programming throughout the day, based around special editions of the Beatcroft Social music ‘visual radio’ show, hosted by Tom Morton, and taking in for the first time the Junior Up Helly Aa procession and burning.

“It’s a massive undertaking,” said Promote Shetland’s Andy Steven, “and one that’s taken months of planning. For the first time we’ll be streaming on Facebook Live from the Promote Shetland Facebook page as well as at uphellyaa.com. We’ve never used so many cameras or so many enthusiastic young local film makers, or been on air for so long.”

Previous webcasts have attracted huge audiences from across the world, with Up Helly Aa trending on social media. This year a dedicated team will be in place to handle Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds, Mr Steven said.

“We’ll be monitoring the the #uphellyaa hashtag on Twitter an Instagram and as in previous years, we hope to see a real community of Shetland enthusiasts from across the world come together on the night.”

Previous webcasts have attracted huge audiences from across the world, with Up Helly Aa trending on social media.

Former BBC DJ Tom Morton will host episodes of his experimental ‘visual radio’ show The Beatcroft Social between 9-11am and 5-7pm. These will include live video of the morning Jarl Squad procession with the galley, the unveiling of the Bill at the Market Cross, and later, the Junior Up Helly Aa procession and burning. There will also be excerpts from the Fiery Sessions concert at the Garrison Theatre.

“We’ll have lots of great Shetland tunes as well as music by an array of artists who have played here over the years,” said Mr Morton. “Davie Gardner will be on hand and we’ll have some great stories of folk who’re in squads and visitors attending Up Helly Aa. And of course, people will be able to see what’s happening live.”

Mr Steven said the superfast broadband links from Shetland Telecom enabled such a complex production to be broadcast reliably and in high quality.

“All of those involved are looking forward to bringing the planet’s greatest viking fire festival to a worldwide audience,” he said. As for the possibility of aerial footage, he said: “All the licences for this are in place, so we’ll just have to wait and see what the weather does. One thing’s for sure - there will be no cancellation of either the festival or our coverage, hail rain or snow!”

We’ll have some great stories of folk who’re in squads and visitors attending Up Helly Aa.

On uphellyaa.com and Facebook Live via facebook.com/promoteshetland on Tuesday:

9.00am - 11.00am: The Beatcroft Social, with Tom Morton. Music and live video taking in the Jarl Squad marching with the galley and the unveiling of the Bill at the Market Cross

5.00pm - 7.00pm: The Beatcroft Social, with Tom Morton and Davie Gardner. Music and live video of the Junior Up Helly Aa procession and burning.

7.00pm - 9.00pm: Live coverage and commentary of the main light-up, procession and burning, with Davie Gardner and Peter Malcolmson.

Get social and join the discussion online by using #uphellyaa on Instagram and Twitter.