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What's On at Lerwick Up Helly Aa

by Allison Christie -

At the risk of sounding like a high school arithmetic question, how long does it take fifty Up Helly Aa squads (with up to thirty in each squad) to visit eleven halls (in a carefully planned rotation) to perform a well rehearsed act, catch up with guests, enjoy supper and a dance, thank the hosts and hostesses for their hospitality and then move on to the next hall?

The answer - it does indeed take all night, with halls open from 9.15pm on Tuesday and guests and squads leaving the halls sometime around 8am on Wednesday. First stop after that is usually an all important breakfast, maybe a liquid refreshment or two, some tunes and maybe an after party.

It’s probably no surprise that the Wednesday after Lerwick Up Helly Aa is a public holiday, with schools, many local services and shops closed for the day whilst the party comes to an end and we take the day to recover. Even though schools and many public services take the public holiday, Shetland is not closed for the day. There is lots to see and do, with many of our attractions opening out of season so you can make the most of your time here for Lerwick Up Helly Aa.

This round-up of What’s On at Up Helly Aa from the Lerwick Tourist iCentre is an excellent summary of all that’s available to help you make the most of the events before, during and after Lerwick Up Helly Aa. They also have a very popular Guide to Up Helly Aa that you can pick up from the Tourist Centre at the Market Cross in Lerwick.

With plenty to see and do if you don’t have a ticket for a hall on Up Helly Aa night, there’s also a great atmosphere around town on the Tuesday night. And fewer sights more hilarious than being out for a walk on the Wednesday morning and guizer spotting - you might see any amount of party worn and dishevelled vikings, cowboys, trolls, ballerinas, storm troopers, puffins and so on heading for home in a somewhat zigzagged direction!

Opening times for shops and local services vary, but generally local shops away from Lerwick are open as usual. Both Lerwick supermarkets are also open as normal.

Local transport is one thing to check, with reduced services for both inter island ferry and bus services on the Wednesday.

Our post on Up Helly Aa with Kids has great ideas to entertain all ages, as well as lots of free family fun ideas when you’re out and about.

There’s a feast of nature to explore of course, and if you’re lucky enough and the skies oblige, you might also spot the Northern Lights.

So however you’re experiencing Up Helly Aa here in Shetland, we hope you enjoy the experience and all that Shetland has to offer.

And don’t forget to keep up to date with live action and behind the scenes videos on all 12 fire festivals at and via our Facebook page.

About Allison Christie

Busy wife and mum of three (cats and horse not included). Sometimes gardens and photographs, mostly delegates. Allison owns and runs her own Social Media Management business from her home in Vidlin, Shetland.
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