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January 2015 Visit Shetland Newsletter



Happy New Year! Isn't it great when you have a blank diary, full of possibilities for the year ahead. I hope that 2015 is happy and healthy for you and that you manage to do some of the travelling tips I'll be bringing you over the coming year. My New Year's resolution is to explore some of the more remote places in Shetland that I either haven't been to, or haven't visited for many years.

This is the perfect time to book a holiday, it'll cheer you up after the festive holiday period and give you something to look forward to. So what are you waiting for? Shetland is the ideal location for that get away from it all holiday, but there's plenty on offer throughout the isles for all types of visitor and there's a good range of accommodation to suit your needs. Have a browse through the Visit Shetland website for lots of ideas and helpful advice. And when you get here, you'll find the Shetland Travel Information website a useful resource.

3 Cheers For Up Helly Aa

January only means one thing in Shetland - Up Helly Aa! It's held on the last Tuesday of the month, when nearly 1000 guizers parade around Lerwick with flaming torches and set fire to a viking galley ship that's taken months to build, followed by a night of partying at venues across the town. The main squad is the Jarl Squad, headed by the Guizer Jarl who has worked for 15 years on the Up Helly Aa committee to get to this one night. I was lucky enough to catch up with Neil Robertson who will be this year's Jarl as he was preparing for the big event.

There's a number of events on surrounding Up Helly Aa. Shetland Arts have Fiery Sessions in the afternoon, showcasing local talent, the Shetland Film Archive are screening old and contemporary films of the event through the ages on Tuesday afternoon in Mareel and there's an evening of comedy with Stand Up Helly Aa. Tickets for all are available from Shetland Box Office.

Oh, and be prepared to see some pretty strange sights on Wednesday morning - there's always a few guizers trying to find their way home, still dressed in whatever fancy dress they were wearing the night before! If you're visiting in the summer months you can pop along the Galley Shed to see the Up Helly Aa exhibition - it's open 3rd May to 24th August, after which it's shut to the public so work can begin on building next year's galley.

For those of you not able to see the procession in Lerwick, then you can watch it online thanks to 60 North TV. All that's missing is the smell of the paraffin and the heat from the torches!

Other Up Helly Aa's

As well as the Lerwick Up Helly Aa, there's a number of other fire festivals held around the isles. Each are unique in their own way and well worth going to see. Here's a list of what's on when:


9th - Scalloway Fire Festival

27th - Lerwick Up Helly Aa


13th - Uyeasound Up Helly Aa

20th - Northmavine Up Helly Aa

21st - Norwick Up Helly Aa

27th - Bressay Up Helly Aa

27th - Cullivoe Up Helly Aa

Saturday 21st February 2015


13th - South Mainland Up Helly Aa

20th - Delting Up Helly Aa

Coming from the south end of Shetland I must admit to being a little biased in favour of the new kid of the block, the South Mainland Up Helly Aa. This year the burning will take place at St Ninian's Isle, which has to be one of the most scenic locations for a burning. I'll be bringing you an interview with the first ever female Guizer Jarl in the March newsletter.

A - Z of reasons to come to Shetland

If you're a regular reader of the newsletter, you'll know that I like to drop in a Top 5 or Top 10 ideas - well this time I thought I'd let someone else do the talking. Here's a tongue firmly in cheek look at the A-Z reasons to visit (and maybe even stay) in Shetland.

The Year Ahead

If you have a blank diary at the moment, then here's some dates and events for you to consider:

January - Up Helly Aa season begins with Scalloway Fire Festival on 9th.

February - Time to get organised - Early membership for Shetland Folk Festival opens on 1st and tickets for Shetland Fiddle Frenzy are go on sale on 2nd.

March - Up Helly Aa season ends with Delting Up Helly Aa on 20th.

April - Shetland Folk Festival starts on 30th April.

May - Heritage centres around Shetland open for the summer season.

June - Mid Summer (woo-hoo!), the Lerwick Carnival and the Bergen-Shetland race takes place

July - Shetland Nature Festival runs from 4th to 10th

August - Shetland Fiddle Frenzy is on 2nd to 9th

September - Shetland Wool Week takes place from 26th September to 4th October

October - Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival kicks off on 8th

November - Shetland Noir and the Shetland International Guitar Festival

December - Living Lerwick Winter Festival

Competition Time

Congratulations to Graham Tully from Denmark who won a stunning print of the Northern Lights over Mousa Broch by D MWoodhouse Fine Art, it's on its way to you now.

This month we're giving away a signed copy of Shetland Food and Cooking by Marian Armitage. This fabulous cookbook is about Shetlanders, the food they grow, rear, catch and sell; the traditions and historical influences as well as newer trends.

See you soon!


Remember, if you can't make it to Shetland for Up Helly Aa you can watch it on the internet with 60 North's live broadcast.

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