Best time to go to Scotland

Up Helly Aa 2018

To mark the end of the Yule season, thousands of Vikings traditionally burn the galley with thousands of torches

Up Helly Aa in Scotland - Best Time
Photo by

© Ross Mackenzie

Up Helly Aa is a famous Viking-themed fire festival that actually celebrates the end of Christmas season and its origins date back to the 19th century.

South Mainland Up Helly Aa
South Mainland Up Helly Aa

However, back in those times the costumed Vikings or guizers used to roll burning tar barrels along the roads of the Scottish towns and villages, but due to large damage that way of celebration was substituted with torchlit processions which culminate with the burning of Viking longship model known as "galley."

Up Helly Aa in Scotland - Best Season

Today Up Helly Aa takes place in nearly 10 Scottish settlements, and the one in Lerwick is considered the biggest fire demonstration in all of Britain. On the last Tuesday of January around 1,000 guizers headed by the chief Viking "Jarl" march through the streets of Lerwick until they arrive in the galley and throw their torches into the ship.

Up Helly Aa traditionally takes place on the last Tuesday of January, so you can plan visiting the event quite in advance.

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