Up Helly Aa – the Viking fire festival in Shetland, Scotland

March 25, 2013 in Amazing, Crazy and bizarre, Europe and Middle East

 

Europe’s largest fire festival takes place on Scotland’s Shetland Islands every January. It is held to mark the end of the Yule season (Christmas was once called Yule in Scotland). Thousands of men dress up as Vikings, marching in squads through towns while carrying torches. The procession culminates in the burning of a replica Viking longship. The celebrations are held at more than 10 different locations all over the Shetland Islands.

Up Helly Aa Viking fire festival Shetland Islands 2

Credits: Mike Pennington. Link to picture. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

Although the festival might seem very masculine with men dressing up as Vikings, it has actually attained a not-so-masculine nick-name. As it is only allowed for men to dress up, and the customes can look quite flamboyant, the celebrations have earned the joke name of “Transvestite Tuesday”. (Via: wikipedia.org. Pictures: wikimedia commons.)

Up Helly Aa Viking fire festival Shetland Islands 1

Credits: Anne Burgess. Link to picture. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

Up Helly Aa Vikings

Credits: Mike Pennington. Link to picture. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

Up Helly Aa Viking fire festival Shetland Islands 4

Credits: Mike Pennington. Link to picture. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

Up Helly Aa Viking fire festival Shetland Islands 4

Credits: Mike Pennington. Link to picture. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.