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From: 2014.01.25 To: 2014.01.25
The abiding influence of the Vikings, who arrived in Shetland just over 1000 years ago, is celebrated on the last Tuesday of January with the largest fire festival in Europe - "Up Helly Aa". After a torch-light procession of up to a thousand "guizers" through the streets of Lerwick a full-size replica Viking long ship is ceremonially burned. The "guizers" and onlookers then return to local halls for a night of revelry, dancing and partying. Summer visitors can get a flavour of this mid-winter extravaganza at the Up Helly Aa exhibition in Lerwick where the regalia, props, costumes and a replica long ship are on display. The first celebration took place on New Years Eve in 1878, when instead of burning the usual tar-barrel the citizens of Lerwick set fire to a traditional Shetland boat known as a yoal. Each year the fun grows bigger with the flames.