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Fire Festival Events

Shetland's annual fire festivals, also known as Up Helly Aas, take place between January and March. If you're thinking of attending the festivities, here are some useful dates for your diary…

2020 Up Helly Aa celebration dates

EventDateLight up
Scalloway Fire Festival10th Jan 2020 (Second Friday of Jan)
Lerwick Up Helly Aa28th Jan 2020 (Last Tues of Jan)7.30pm
Lerwick Junior Up Helly Aa28th Jan 2020 (Last Tues of Jan)
Nesting and Girlsta Up Helly Aa7th Feb 2020 (10 days after Lerwick)7.30pm
Uyeasound Up Helly Aa14th Feb 2020 (Usually second Friday of Feb but Jarl decides on date each year)8pm
Northmavine Up Helly Aa21st Feb 2020 (Third Friday of Feb)8pm
Norwick Up Helly Aa29th Feb 2020 (Last Saturday of Feb)7.30pm
Cullivoe Up Helly Aa28th Feb 2020 (Last Friday of Feb)7pm
Bressay Up Helly Aa28th Feb 2020 ((Last Friday of Feb)8pm
Walls Junior Up Helly Aa6th March 2020 (First Saturday of Mar)7.30pm
South Mainland Up Helly Aa13th March 2020 (Second Friday of Mar)
Delting Up Helly Aa20th Mar 2020 (Third Friday of Mar)

Fire Festival Events

As well as the main Up Helly Aa celebrations across our communities, there are also a number of associated events which take place, particularly around Lerwick Up Helly Aa.

"Men in Tights" Photography Exhibition

Date: Sunday 26 and Monday 27 January
Venue: Shetland Museum & Archives, Hay's Dock, Lerwick ZE1 0WP
Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday: 10am-4pm, and special Up Helly Aa opening times: Sunday 26 January from 12pm and Monday 27 January 10am-4pm
Entry: Free

A photographic exhibition, “Men in Tights” is in Da Gadderie at Shetland Museum & Archives and runs until 22nd February. The display focuses on Up-Helly-A’ squads from the early 20th century and highlights suits from 1905 to 1923. Many squads made use of a favourite Up Helly Aa disguise - men dressed as women – hence the name of the exhibition.

Up Helly Aa Family Fun Day

Date: Sunday 26 January
Venue: Shetland Museum & Archives, Hay's Dock, Lerwick ZE1 0WP
Time: 2pm-3pm
Tickets: £2 per child

Head to the museum and take part in its Up Helly Aa family fun day. Make a helmet, torch and shield ready to take part in a small procession around the museum at 3.30pm. This is a drop-in event, no booking required.

Talk: Origins of Up Helly Aa with Trevor Jamieson

Date: Sunday 26 and Monday 27 January
Venue: Shetland Museum & Archives, Hay's Dock, Lerwick ZE1 0WP
Time: 12.30pm-1.30pm
Tickets: £5

Join one of the museum's expert guides to discover the origins of Up Helly Aa through to the modern day festivities. Trevor Jamieson will give an illustrated talk, highlighting the origins of Up Helly Aa and how the festival has evolved into today's format. To end his talk, Trevor will perform the music and songs sung at the Up Helly Aa procession.

To book tickets, head to the booking page of the Shetland Museum & Archives website.

Sumburgh Head Visitor Centre - Up Helly Aa opening

Date: Sunday 26 January, Wednesday 29 January - Friday 31 January
Venue: Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Sumburgh ZE3 9JN
Times: 10am-5pm
Tickets: Adult: £6, Concession: £4, Child: £2, Family Ticket (2 adults, 2 children): £12.50. Group discounts can be provided on advanced request.

Open exclusively during Up Helly Aa week, Sumburgh Lighthouse is a world-class visitor attraction on Shetland's south mainland. Discover the history of Shetland’s first Stevenson Lighthouse and its Keepers in the restored Engine Room and Smiddy. Visit the Radar Hut to learn how Sumburgh Head played a crucial role in protecting the British Home Fleet during WWII. And while you are there, dive into our Marine Life Centre to explore life under the waves.

No advance booking required. To find out more visit the Sumburgh Head website.

Shetland Food and Drink Market

Date: Monday 27 January 2020
Venue: Mareel, North Ness House, Lerwick ZE1 0WQ
Time: 12pm-6pm

Enjoy the best of Shetland's growing food and drink scene the day before Lerwick Up Helly Aa at this busy market. Participating producers include Mackenzie's Farm Shop and Café, C'est la Vie, Mirrie Dancers Chocolatier, Whalsay Made, Suze Walker - Medical Herbalist, Busta House Hotel, Shetland Reel, Eventastic, Waas Bakery, Lerwick Brewery, Thule Ventus - Shetland Salt Fish, The Cake Fridge - Shetland, Island Deli, Shetland Farm Dairies and Island Larder - home of The Shetland Fudge Company.

To find out more, visit the Taste of Shetland Facebook page.

Fiery Sessions

Date: Tuesday 28 January
Venue: The Garrison Theatre, Lerwick ZE1 0HD
Performances: 12pm and 3pm
Tickets: £14, under 16s £12

Join Lewie Peterson as host of this year's Fiery Sessions and welcome Skelburn, George Spence, High Level Hot Club and Haltadans to the stage for an afternoon of tunes, as well as a special guest appearance of the Junior Up Helly Aa squad in the later show.

Buy tickets

Flaming Tunes

Date: Tuesday 28 January
Venue: Islesburgh Complex, King Harald St, Lerwick ZE1 0EQ
Performance: 12.45pm until 3.30pm
Tickets: £10

Enjoy a fantastic afternoon of live music, compered by Eunice Henderson and with musical performances from Maggie Adamson, Gemma Donald and Alan Small. There's also a special visit from Lerwick's Junior Jarl Squad.

Call Islesburgh Community Centre to book tickets on +44 (0)1595 745 100.

Old Scatness Broch and Iron Age Village - Up Helly Aa opening

Date: Wednesday 29 January
Venue: Old Scatness Broch and Iron Age Village, Scatness, Sumburgh ZE3 9JW
Times: 10am-4pm (last tours 3.30pm)
Tickets: Adult: £6, Concession: £4, Child: £2, Family Ticket (2 adults, 2 children): £12.50. Group discounts can be provided on advanced request.

A rare chance to visit this world class heritage site in Shetland's south mainland, which lay undiscovered for over a millenium.

For more information visit the Shetland Amenity Trust website.

There are often lots of live music sessions, Sunday teas and other events held around Shetland's fire festivals. You can find out what's on during your visit at What's On Shetland, The Shetland Times or at VisitScotland's Lerwick iCentre.

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