You might be surprised that on Shetland there are 10 Up Helly A's as the Lerwick one gets all the press attention, it is I suppose worthy of that attention as it has up to 1000 torch holders from a multitude of squads. We had a normal working day on Up Helly A' day, and by organised bus, arrived about 7.00pm just in time for torch ignition. I was expecting a very historical Scandinavian procession, and was surprised by squads in all sorts of costumes. There were two bands, a brass one and a pipe band, the brass band dominated, perhaps suggesting a fracture from the mainland in a "we are Shetlanders" way. Having spent some time in Cornwall I appreciate that regional strong identity. From memory tainted by whisky, the Jarl Guiser's squad lit up first and marched away, collecting "per Ardua" the galley on the way, at some point a flare/bang was sent up and that was the signal for the other squads (non historical) to light up, that procession behind the galley was some sight 900 torch bearers, with all the smoke, heat and smell of kerosine, the songs, the band music, it was memorable. Even my camera smelt of smoke for days! The procession part ended in the park where the galley Per Ardua was ritually "torched" that was spectacular and i hope my pics demonstrate this. I happened to be three deep in people all positioned for this finale, so had to raise my camera above my head and was well pleased by some of the galley burning pics. We had to return home at 9.00pm by the same organised bus and could not take in the business at the halls, which I believe needed booking. The squads visit all the halls in turn and perform! usually a risqué and locally apt turn pointing politically at certain cooncilars (sic)  A very local event and I suppose can only really be appreciated by locals.

One Response to “Up Helly A’”

  1. ThePath February 18, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    The last one (no 6) is verging on spectacular. Looks like something out of a movie.

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