Cullivoe Up Helly Aa

22nd February 2019 (Last Friday of February)

In Yell, Up Helly Aa traditions began as a children’s event in Sellafirth in the late 1950s. However with many people finding the Lerwick Up Helly Aa too difficult to reach, the occasion soon grew into an island-wide event: a procession was held and a galley burned, and a tradition had begun.

The following year, the North Yell Badminton Club took over the running of the festival, before a committee was formed in 1960. The festival has run annually ever since (with the exception of the years 1966, 1968 and 2004).

Held on the last Friday in February, proceedings take much the same shape as in other Up Helly Aa festivals: the Jarl Squad spend the day visiting schools and elderly members of the community, before taking part in an evening procession.

The Jarl squad march their galley from Cullivoe hall to the marina where it is set alight and floated out to sea. Squad performances are then held in the local hall, and the school, which was added as a venue in 1982 to prevent overcrowding at the hall.

Following this, a dance is held at the hall which continues into the early hours. A Hop night is held the following day, which sees another round of entertainment and dancing in the evening.

A week after, the Guizer's Return is held, on the following Saturday, giving the guizers the opportunity to watch each other’s acts and see the squads who took part in the festival. A dance takes place in between each squad performance, and continues when all acts have finished. The Return is also a good chance to see the "creative" charity haircuts being sported by the Jarl Squad.

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