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Up Helly AA
Up Helly AA is the “lightening of the year” festival, a celebration of Viking heritage in Shetland. The center of the event is a torch lit procession and longship burning in the old Pagan Norse tradition, recalling rituals of chieftain cremation and religious ceremonies to mark the Sun’s return after the Winter Solstice.
On the evening of Up Helly AA, regardless of weather, almost a thousand men carrying torches and in costume form rans in squares in shetland’s capital, the Jarl Squad taking the lead in Viking dress. When a rocket bursts over the town hall, the torches are lit and the band strikes up, and so the procession begins. The replicx longship is dragged to the burning site through a crowd of approximately 5,000. When a bugle sounds, the torches are hurled into the longship and as it burns, the crowd sinks “The Norseman’s Home” requem.