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By Promote ShetlandFebruary 3rd 2023

Fire Festival Season in Shetland is under way, marking the start of a unique series of fiery celebrations that take place in communities across the islands between January and March every year. We will be sharing some of the highlights.

Shetland’s spectacular Fire Festival season is in full swing, with Vikings' roars, blazing torches and a sense of celebration already having taken over Scalloway and Lerwick in January.

Following three years of postponements and cancellations, the return of the festivals has been greeted with even greater excitement than normal.

Lerwick Up Helly Aa was restored to its traditional slot on the final Tuesday in January and creating an unparalleled buzz throughout the community.

The 2023 Guizer Jarl (or viking-in-chief) Neil Moncrieff proudly led his squad around town throughout the day and into the small hours.

Up Helly Aa, Lerwick, 31st January 2023

The event draws in tourists from afar who rub shoulders with thousands of locals to enjoy the spectacle of a festival marking Shetland's Norse heritage and nodding to ancient rituals heralding the rebirth of the sun after a long, dark winter.

The Jarl's Squad led a swarm of almost 1,000 guizers around town during a spectacular torchlit evening procession around Lerwick's King George V playing park, culminating in setting a replica Viking longship aflame.

The procession was broadcast live online and tens of thousands of viewers - including proud expat Shetlanders and intrigued onlookers stretching from New Zealand to Alaska – tuned in to enjoy proceedings before almost 50 squads of friends set off to tour Lerwick's halls to dance the night away until 8am the following morning.

In a notable change for the 142-year-old event, several women took part in the torchlit procession for the first time, while girls made up almost a third of participants in the Junior Up Helly Aa procession.

Just over a fortnight earlier, the historic village of Scalloway had hosted the first Viking fire festival since 2020. Hundreds joined the procession, wearing a variety of colourful fancy dress suits, with hundreds more lining the streets despite pouring rain during the evening procession.

Scalloway Fire Festival, 13th January 2023

It was just the beginning of the annual series of fiery events, with Up Helly Aas taking place all over Shetland between January and March.

Promote Shetland will be sharing footage and photography throughout Fire Festival season, so keep checking back to see the latest images.

You can watch back our full live stream of the Lerwick Up Helly Aa procession, featuring experienced broadcaster Tom Morton speaking authoritatively about the origins and evolution of the festival, at uphellyaa.com.

You will also be able to enjoy full live coverage of the South Mainland Up Helly Aa on 10 March through the same website and on Promote Shetland's Facebook page and YouTube channel.

To discover more about all of Shetland's fiery winter celebrations, visit our Up Helly Aa and Fire Festivals page.