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February 2013 Visit Shetland Newsletter



I'm Abby, author of Postcards from Shetland, and I'm here again with the latest Shetland happenings, information and holiday suggestions. If you are considering a visit to Shetland, please do not hesitate to contact us for holiday planning advice, using either the contact form on the website or by phoning +44 (0) 1595 98 98 98.

Since we last spoke…

…Vikings have been organizing the biggest and craziest fire festival in Europe!

A belated Happy New Year! I hope you're all keeping cosy during this very chilly start to 2013. Over here we're getting warmed up for the biggest annual fire festival in Europe - Up Helly Aa! If you can't make it for January 29th - no worries! Promote Shetland has cameras strategically placed along the Up Helly Aa route and images will be broadcast live to a global online audience. You too can enjoy the fiery procession from the comfort of your own home with dram in hand!

Watch the Lerwick Up Helly Aa at and share, with thousands of visitors and locals, this unforgettable event which culminates in over 800 Vikings and their imaginatively dressed followers throwing their flaming torches into the Galley. To Valhalla! Unfortunately there are no cameras in the Halls where the all night (and morning) parties are held afterwards!

If you are popping over - visit the UHA website to view the events timetable, book a guided Up Helly Aa tour with Douglas Sinclair (via Lerwick Visitor Centre), take a walk on the wild side with Shetland Walking and Wildlife, join 'The Origins of Up Helly Aa' free guided tours at Shetland Museum and Archives, snap up one of the remaining places on Unseen Shetland's 'Up Helly Aa Tour', attend Mareel's comedy night: Stand Up Helly Aa and afternoon concert: Fiery Sessions. Up Helly Aa is one of the festivals to put on your bucket list!

Top tip:You may have noticed Shetland is festival crazy - there are over ten major events every year! Click here for handy dates for your diary, including the Jazz Festival (14th-17thFebruary) and the world famous Shetland Folk Festival (2nd-5th May) - an impressive local and international line up has been announced on the funky new SFF website. Be sure to book accommodation and make travel arrangements as soon as possible!

The man from National Geographic says YES! to a winter break in Shetland!

A Shetland winter break offers those with a pioneering spirit a unique retreat after a hectic festive season and National Geographic's Digital Nomad, Andrew Evans was eager to experience Shetland in all its wintry glory. He joined Allen Fraser, from Shetland Geotours, visiting areas of geological interest and reveling in 'the beauty of Shetland…eager to see Shetland as it is'.

Andrew took a boat trip and viewed the breathtaking sandstone cliffs of Noss and watched the gannets returning to their ledges, 'one of the greatest places I've ever seen', he then scooted off to Northmavine to marvel at Eshaness and follow the Volcano Trail, 'awesome, just awesome!' The day ended with a fish and chip supper at award-winning Frankie's in Brae. Yum! Read Andrew's Shetland posts here and here. Great video too!

Did you know: Shetland is one of only three Geoparks in Scotland? Find out more about Shetland's outstanding geological heritage here and download free Trail guides. Why not pop over for a long weekend and be inspired by 'Natural Shetland'? Find travel and accommodation information here!

A new website for cyclists and a New Year resolution - to get on my bike!

At Christmas, after another calorie packed meal, hubby suggested 2013 should be the year when we get pedaling on our recently gifted bikes. I wasn't sure whether this was a good idea, however, I got more into the cycle zone when he said we could have regular cake and tea pit stops! 'Sounds good to me!' I said. Joking aside, exploring Shetland by bike has been on my mind since reading about Lara Dunn's wonderful Shetland cycling trip in September's issue of Coast Magazine and featured in the September newsletter.

Lara was wowed by the cinematic views, the 1000 miles of well surfaced (and very quiet) roads and also managed to branch off onto a section of theNorth Sea Cycle Route. If off road is more your bag - there's plenty of rough tracks to explore too. There is a Guide to 22 Cycle Routes (request your copy now!) with handy tips, maps and details, and …drum roll… Promote Shetland is happy to announce there's a new Cycle Shetland website too. Woohoo! It's packed with all the information you could possibly need for a freewheeling-fantastic holiday. This summer you may just see me out about on my shiny new bike, wearing lycra and a snazzy pink helmet, on the other hand, I may just get conveniently lost in the famous Shetland Teas Triangle. Please don't come and find me!

February's Prize - a stylish canvas bag from 60North Bag Company

Congratulations to January's prizewinner, Samantha Boseley from Leicester - a beautiful handmade necklace by RoLo is on its way to you! This month's prize is a Lodberrie Loader - a stylish marine-inspired canvas bag, designed and made at the home-based workshop of 60North Bag Company - a trading name of 60North Marine Canvas - a well-known business amongst island boat-owners for custom-made marine canvas work and for repairing sails for local and visiting boats.

The designs are rooted in the traditional and iconic bags used around boat yards, harbours and aboard ship for hauling, lugging, loading and storing supplies. 60North Bag Company offers a select range of Limited Edition bags and Co-Design options - create your very own unique design!

Each bag is individually handcrafted from tough sailcloth or brightly coloured canvas, built to last a lifetime and is spacious enough for all your essentials.

The official UK book launch of Dead Water is happening at Mareel!

What were you thinking Misa?! My PS colleague gave me a copy of Dead Water; the fifth book in the Shetland series featuring Detective Jimmy Perez, just before a deadline! Was it difficult to put down? Absolutely! I should have been scribbling away, instead I've been trying to work out who killed journalist Jerry Markham? Why was he back in Shetland? What is incomer, Rhona Laing hiding? So many questions, so many twists and turns, scandals galore and long held secrets yet to uncover. Get out your 'Do Not Disturb' sign, curl up in front of the fire - Dead Water is another must-read from award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves.

Did you know:The official UK book launch of Dead Water is happening here - at Mareel (31st January at 7.30 pm). In addition to readings from the novel by Shetland actors, leading forensic pathologist Dr James Grieve will join Ann for a fascinating discussion. See you there!

Shetland inspires creatives...

I've been to view the latest exhibition at Shetland Museum: New Shetland Graduates.Helen Whitham's knitwear made me stop in my wedge heeled tracks. Her range of handcrafted contemporary knitwear, championing Shetland's tradition, culture and craftsmanship, is a style maven's must-buy. Get your order in soon before Helen has a loyal following and a long waiting list! Another creative inspired by Shetland is the rising star amongst British Menswear designers, Lou Dalton. Lou is a frequent visitor to Shetland, 'it is quite simply one of the most amazing places I've been to…' and her love for the Shetland landscape and community is reflected in her autumn/winter 2013 menswear collection. Her range, both rugged and sleek, recently showcased at London Collections: Men and has received rave reviews. Read a fascinating interview with Lou, featured in Style Salvage.

Top tip:if you'd like to meet Shetland creatives - follow the Craft Trail and be inspired too!

Help! I've become an otterholic…

…you will too when you see this short video of Ada the rescued otter cub, now thriving at Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary. For more ooohs and ahhhhs - view the superb photo, featured in National Geographic, of a mother and two male cubs posing in Shetland for fellow otterholic, Charlie Hamilton James. Click here for the image and be prepared to have your heartstrings pulled!

Talking of which - otter capital -Yell has launched a website for visitors, in addition to handy advice for people who would like to relocate to this stunning island. Shetland island hopping is one of my favourite holiday activities; each island is so very different and if you'd like to get away from the 'usual' holiday activities and experience an alternative break - I may have the answer!

Top tip:Why not spend a week helping an island community with various jobs? Week-long Thistle Camps (from spring through summer) are held on Fair Isle and offer a chance for visitors to help with a variety of tasks and work alongside crofters. Make applications via the National Trust for Scotland. Immerse yourself in island living; enjoy extraordinary wildlife spotting (look out for whales in the harbor), a world-class Bird Observatory and a very lively social life, by all accounts!

The start of the New Year is a time to look ahead, to plan new adventures and we are here to help you experience the holiday of a lifetime. If you have any queries or just want to say hello - get in touch! All our contact details are at the beginning of the newsletter. We look forward to welcoming you to magical Shetland.

See you soon!

PS have you seen the photos and video of two cosy-looking Shetland ponies dressed in hand-knitted button down Fair Isle? Click here to view the bang on trend ponies!

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Or write to us at: Promote Shetland, Shetland Museum & Archives, Hay's Dock, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0WP, United Kingdom

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