While the torchlit parades and burning of the galleys are what most people associate with Up Helly Aa, there's much more to each fire festival than one night of revelry. Each of the 12 festivals take months of planning and involve the whole community.
On fire festival days, the Viking Jarl squads spend the daylight hours visiting care homes, supported living accommodation and schools in their communities, to make sure that people of all ages can get involved in the celebrations.
There are community events too, including an Up Helly Aa Craft Fair the Sunday before Lerwick Up Helly Aa at Mareel, an Up Helly Aa Food and Drink Market the day before Lerwick Up Helly Aa and music in the form of Fiery Sessions at the Garrison Theatre on the afternoon of Lerwick Up Helly Aa. These events are particularly popular with visitors who want to experience aspects of Shetland's culture beyond the fiery evening procession.
Of course, once the galley burning is done the night is far from over. Community halls open their doors to welcome the various squads who entertain the crowds with their amusing skits before a Shetland reel or two on the dancefloor.
Sustenance comes in the form of a delicious spread of sweet and savoury treats laid on by the hosts and hostesses of the halls. The highlight for many is reestit mutton and tattie soup – a staple of the Shetland winter diet and guaranteed to keep hungy bellies satisfied throughout the night.